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18 I an Williams-Wynn’s mission is to enable UAVs to operate safely and routinely alongside manned aircraft, and to bring together innovative small and medium enterprises in the UK to create a cohesive industry that can also export its expertise. The focus of his efforts to bring UAVs ‘in from the cold’, as far as airspace is concerned, is the new National Beyond- visual-line-of-sight Experimentation Centre (NBEC), a facility he helped to create with its own safety case under which the industry has unprecedented freedom to develop new UAV capabilities. His route into the unmanned systems business took him through the British Army, special forces, analysis of UAV imagery for military intelligence, and directorships in industry along the way to his current role as MD of Blue Bear Systems Research – and a technical consultant to this magazine. It was as a young soldier in the Intelligence Corps in 1993-94 that he began working with the British Army’s sole UAV asset at the time, the Phoenix. Part of his role was to work out what value the Phoenix and its imagery could provide to the corps, but at that time the organisation was involved in a struggle with the Royal Artillery for control of the Army’s UAV capabilities, which the gunners won. “So our world moved on,” he recalls. “We effectively allied ourselves with the Americans, and started working with imagery from systems such as Searcher and Pioneer.” That led to an experience that illustrated how the two militaries managed to work closely together, despite some political sensitivities around rules on sharing information. “I had a Global Hawk feed come across my desk early one morning from the US base at White Sands,” he says. “It went to the Joint Analysis Centre next door, and they put a 3 s delay on it before sending it to my desk – just so the Americans could say they’d had it first!” His regular and reserve military service encompassed the 1991 Gulf War and the post-9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq before he left the military in 2004 to join Breconcherry, an engineering company that made decontamination systems for a range of industries encompassing biotechnology equipment, brewers’ vats and even armoured vehicles. One example was a system for the Polish army that was big enough to drive a tank through. Blue Bear Research’s MD tells Peter Donaldson about how he sees UAVs being integrated into unsegregated airspace The long view Early in his military career, Ian Williams-Wynn analysed imagery from US-operated UAVs such as this IAI Pioneer after the Royal Artillery won control of the Phoenix UAV from the British Army’s intelligence branch (Courtesy of IAI via Wikepedia) February/March 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology