Unmanned Warrior - The captains and the kings depart

Of all the complexities that the Unmanned Warrior management team have faced in the preparation for this event perhaps the most challenging is the programme of personal visits.

It might seem an easy thing to put on a show and then invite the heads of the military and industry to pop by and take a look. Even collar a minister or two for a moment.

Think again.

This is set in a far field, off the beaten track – deliberately so. This is an area where fast moving manned and unmannned systems need to room to live and breathe. Space and distance. 

So getting people here – and that includes a lot of equipment, systems, research and demonstrating staff – is not as easy as taking a quick trip to Farnborough or Boscombe Down.

The Scottish Islands are well provided with air services. But not 747s.  Much smaller. Then there is the problem of where to accommodate everyone. The Scottish Tourist Board can help, and has, and there is a sizable block of barrack like rooms on the QinetiQ site.

But for hundreds? Not so easy.

Then these are not summer tourists. They are men and women of senior management  status. The Admirals and Commodores, the CEOs of industry, the Scientific Leads, the Civil Service Heads. 

And from 18 nations.

Which means defence attaches and ambassadors too. So the Royal Navy has to be a courteous and benevolent host, and also quite careful with its invitations. This is a party to which some have been very reluctantly excluded, for a variety of practical reasons, lest the facilities and demonstrations be overwhelmed.

 Two key days have been planned and the wishes of 150 invited men and women in the world of defence – from Singapore to Seattle and from Lisbon to Trondheim – have been taken into consideration, shaken but not stirred and served up as a fearsome cocktail from the laptop of the redoubtable visit team.

And of course it comes down to the wire. Cancellations, last minute replacements, late clearances, range rearrangements, hats, coats and mobiles left in cars or at home.

Aircraft that run late.

We saw off our first group this morning. We counted them all in and counted them all out. So that was good.

A cheerful and critical bunch. These are not people to be fooled by a finger buffet and fulsome words.

There were sharp questions put to the demonstrating teams on the range tours and pointed note taken of the answers. 

But all were here to learn, to meet comrades in arms, and share hard won knowledge - and benefit from our unmanned experiments.

And, as we jointly look to the future, that, the RN believes, is the only way forward.