A rumor is out that Bruce Dickinson’s aviation firm in Wales have taken part in the manufacture or repair of military drones…
You have probably registered the controversy surrounding the use of unmanned drones in military operations. The use of drones have increased dramatically under US president Barack Obama, allegedly for the assassination of terrorist leaders. But research suggests that the lethal machines are responsible for huge numbers of civilian casualties in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In 2009, the Brookings Institution reported that US-led drone strikes in Pakistan killed 10 civilians for every militant. Some estimates claim that thousands of innocent people have perished in such attacks since the launch of the drone strikes in 2001, with many more likely to have been injured.
It’s against this grave backdrop that rumors of Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson’s involvement began to spread. The blog Dorset Eye reported that Dickinson’s Cardiff Aviation had accepted a contract with the US military to manufacture “lighter-than-air” drones, a contract potentially worth as much as $ 500 million. The blog labelled Dickinson a “rock’n’roll warmonger” in a very heated post.
Unfortunately, the only source provided for this information was an announcement on a South African Conference Speakers International website, which has since been removed. As many people will know by now, Dickinson is available to give talks about corporate innovation and team-building through such forums, and they listed a military contract as one of his business achievements.
A spokesperson for Iron Maiden have responded to NME in a written statement, saying that the entire thing is a misunderstanding that turned into “a totally inaccurate and malicious piece of writing”. NME quotes the spokesperson as stating: “Both Bruce Dickinson and Iron Maiden’s manager Rod Smallwood were early investors in, and remain great supporters of, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), a company that has nothing whatsoever to do with drones, ‘lighter than air’ or otherwise!”
Specialising in heavy lift, the potential application of this in-development aircraft, known as the Airlander, can be both civilian and military. The HAV company highlights the potential in humanitarian operations as well as transport and surveillance related to energy, mining and distribution, which can open extreme environments to human activity in a, relatively speaking, environmentally friendly way.
But HAV are also open about the military operational potential of the vehicles, which is predictable given the fact that all research and development of this sort will rely in large part on military services for funding. Indeed, the prototype shown during take-off in the company’s own image gallery bears the marking United States Army.
So, this is not about Cardiff Aviation manufacturing military drones. Which always sounded completely impossible, anyway.
But it is definitely about Dickinson and Smallwood investing in a company that produces innovative air vehicles. These are being developed specifically for military heavy lift and deployment, albeit with clear possible applications in humanitarian efforts and the research and operation of energy ventures in the future.
Sources: NME, Classic Rock, Brookings Institution, New America Foundation, Dorset Eye and Wikipedia.
8 thoughts on “Dickinson Drones?”
Every investment has a risk of possibly skipping stones to something evil, even just adding funds into your 401k or hedge fund. I think what happened here was the blog jumped from point A, speculated, and then jumped to point E without taking the time to examine possibilities B, C, and D.
Bruce is such a phenomenon. Just as the world is watching him with admiration, I have no doubt that there are others who are licking their chops and just waiting for him to crash to eat him alive.
The Dorset Eye blog entry that started this was bad reporting fueled by agenda, and seemed to take great joy in attacking Bruce. But what the Maiden spokesperson doesn’t mention, and the rock media failed to dig up, is the fact that one specific purpose of the vehicle Bruce and Rod invest in is military heavy lift and deployment. (EDIT: Of course, the spokesperson did in fact mention this…)
So it’s not as simple as any kind of new technology being liable for military use; this aircraft is being developed with the specific aim of military use. In my opinion, both the original blog and the media follow-up and clarification failed to properly illuminate the case.
To be honest, “military heavy lift and deployment” is just one of the many purposes of the lighter-than-air ship developed by the company Bruce and Rod invested in. The initial design and development, or at least what Bruce mentioned at the PPRUNE website some time ago, was much broader than just some sort of military heavy lift aircraft or something with the specific aim of military use. The problem is that, sometimes, armies tend to be the first to invest in these technologies and I bet the company would rather stay afloat with a contract with the US Army than go bust.
Anyway, by no means can that be called a drone and the Dorset Eye blog entry is so full of hatred that it is hard to believe.
Ghost, my article is hopefully very clear that the military use is ONE of the purposes of the aircraft, not THE purpose. Hybrid Air Vehicles themselves are clear that the Airlander is being developed for specific civil and military purposes. The Maiden spokesperson is also clear on this point, but presents it all as a means to “save” civilian and military lives. Well…
The Dorset Eye, for their part, knew nothing about HAV or the Airlander at all. Neither did they care to investigate. Their blog entry is in complete error. But, it remains fact that Dickinson is set to make money from military activities in the future.
Well, being that Mr. Bruce was in the military and that it’s his money, he certainly has that right to make money from military activities. After all, they’re not just about engagement. (My father is a plankowner of the USS Kittyhawk).
However, I also believe in his and Rod’s sense of character. I have had the pleasure of meeting them both and I have no doubt that if either of them discovered that any of their money was used to craft drones or any other atrocities, I’m pretty confident that not only would they NOT be quiet about it, but they would try to find a way to rectify what they could. These men believe in integrity and their brand, which is the principle foundation of their success aside from Goddess-given talent. They’re not gods, but no way would they allow themselves to be reckless with either if they thought that making drones would be part of the deal.
But, making money from the military, alone, is not a crime nor a scandal. You can look to Bono and his repulsive love affair with Monsanto for that…
For my part, I’m not questioning whether Bruce has a strong character, or whether it’s his right to invest his money as he wishes, or whether this is a question of drones. I do however feel that it is prudent to highlight the purposes of the HAV project.
The funniest/weirdest thing in all of this is the fact that someone would think Cardiff Aviation had the means to manufacture military drones. Wow. That’s one for the books…