The Fights Still On

Mark Ayton visited 801 and 899 Naval Air Squadrons at RNAS Yeovilton to review the conversion training and frontline tasking of the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier FA.2 fleet, now in its final 22 months of operation.

RNAS YEOVILTON, Somerset, is the home of the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier FA.2 fleet, comprising one frontline squadron, 801 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and the Sea Harrier training unit 899 NAS. As of July 2004, the Sea Harrier has 22 months of service remaining with the Royal Navy. Originally planned to be in service until 2012, its early retirement is the result of a

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The Economist August 3rd 2013

The world this week


A military judge found Bra­dley Manning, an American soldier, guilty of violating the Espionage Act for releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wild-Leaks in 2010, though not of «aiding the enemy». Mr Man­ning could be sentenced to 136 years behind bars for his role in the largest leak in American military history.

The Obama administration declassified a number of docu­ments connected with its electronic-surveillance programmes, in the «interest of increased transparency». The move was eclipsed by the Guardian, a British newspaper, which published secret docu­ments providing more detail about xKeyscore, a system which

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The ancient aviator and the Albatros

Geoff Roberts air tests Aero’s latest Albatros variant, the L 139.

MY FIRST HIDDEN reactions to an invitation to fly in the Aero L 39 Albatros could never be described as being fired with wild enthusiasm. After all, since 1974, over 2,800 of them have been produced and operated in 16 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America — hardly a new aircraft. Secondly, I admit to being influenced by badly informed sources regarding what I could expect at Famborough ’94. «L 39? An airborne Skoda isn’t it?» «Built by Emmett, I think.» How wrong they and I were.

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Tailored time

Customizable components and anti-counterfeiting features make Vacheron Constantins Quai de l’Ile appealing to collectors. How does it hold up as a practical everyday timekeeper?



Manufacturer: Vacheron Constantin, Chemin du Tourbillon 10, CH-1228 Plan-les-Ouates, Switzerland

Reference number: X85IOP2A

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; day and date; power-reserve display; stop-seconds function

Movement: Self-winding manufacture Caliber 2475 SC/1; 28,800 vph; 27 jewels; index adjusted via setting screw; Glucydur balance; Kif shock absorption; 40-hour power reserve; diameter = 26.2 mm; height = 5.7 mm

Case: Rose gold and titanium, highly domed sapphire crystal with non-reflective treatment

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Switzerlands FSK 17

Peter Haclerode reports on Switzerland’s rarely seen, but highly efficient, airborne Special Forces – FSK 17.

DESPITE IT’S LONG-MAINTAINED policy of neutrality, Switzerland has always considered defence to be a high priority. The Swiss armed forces maintain a high degree of professionalism and are extremely well armed and equipped — and yet national servicemen have only 17 weeks basic training to their credit, topped up by a 19-day refresher course every two years.

However, the Swiss armed forces also include a small, but highly trained, special forces element, the Fernspah Kompanie 17.

In 1968, the Swiss decided that its army

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Aug. 20: Bobby McFerrin, a virtuoso who never met a musical genre he couldn’t wrap his supple vocal chords around convincingly, turns to spiritual music with his «Spirit-youall» album.


Aug. 14: The highly influential rapper El-P and the Outkast collaborator Killer Mike have joined forces as Run the Jewels. Their self-titled Fool’s Gold release showcases their brilliant, aggressive delivery of complex rhymes. As indie-rap veterans, both are at the top of their game, a refreshing antidote to Top 40 rap artists who peak at younger ages with skills far less honed. As Mike declares on the song «Get

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If you make music on the move but need pro performance, Steinberg has the interface for you.

With mobile music-making more popular than ever thanks to seriously powerful laptops, portable USB-powered audio interfaces are no longer the bundle of compromises they once were. Many now offer audio quality comparable with bigger units even if, by definition, they have fewer inputs and outputs.

We expect more from mobile gear these days, and the latest member of Steinberg’s UR family of interfaces is the UR22, the most compact yet. It’s compatible with all recent versions of Mac OSX and Windows and, after

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On the day I speak to Andrew Smith, his photographs are on show in Sheffield’s Winter Gardens — the black and white tones of his work set on rugged metal display stands which act as a sharp contrast against the leafy, succulent backdrop of the glass house interior. It’s a little snowdome of the Sheffield landscape in general, where heavy industry shares space with green parks and rolling hills.

His Steel Soul exhibition, and the book which has been released simultaneously to celebrate 100 years of stainless steel, tells the story of life in one of the city’s biggest, and

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The richly coloured stained-glass front door of Ann Robertson’s Edwardian home is just the starter to the menu of vibrant rooms, paintings and artefacts within. ‘This is not a minimalist or neutral style of house,’ she says, opening the door to a wide, tiled hallway. ‘When we bought it, we were incredibly lucky that all the original features were intact: the pediments over the doors, the fireplaces and even this floor, which was only discovered when we lifted up the old brown carpet a week after moving in.’

Ann moved here from a smaller house round the corner when her

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Stars and stripes

When the United States became involved in World War Two, the British were well entrenched in the art of night-fighting, as were the Germans. The Americans were initially weak in several areas — and having a combat-ready type was one of them.

It would be May 1944 before the USAAF became operational with its new Northrop P-61 Black Widow. Prior to that, the hard-working Douglas A-20 Havoc was adapted as an interim nocturnal and all-weather fighter under the designation P-70.

In the meantime, there was a war to be fought and a stopgap was needed; one that had already proven

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