In Britain, the biggest exhibition of military equipment to be held anywhere in the world, was disrupted on Tuesday (20 June) by protesting fishermen.
In Britain, the biggest exhibition of military equipment to be held anywhere in the world, was disrupted on Tuesday (20 June) by protesting fishermen. The British Army had planned to provide visitors from over 70 countries with a practical demonstration of the weapons on display. Everything from hand guns to tanks were to be fired over the coastal hills around Lulworth, southern England. Instead a small group of local fishermen, worried about the effects of exploding missiles on spider crabs, sailed into firing range and restricted the display to blasts from machine guns and mortars.
SYNOPSIS: Although limited to manoeuvring rather than firing, tanks like the light-weight Scorpion were a major feature of the exhibition. Along with the Scimitar, they competed for the attention of potential foreign buyers, with the star of the show -- the chieftain. This battle tank was seen from a distance because its armour coating is still secret.
The exhibition, based in Aldershot, southern England, is organised by the British Army, the Ministry of Defence and commercial and government arms manufacturers. Sales of weapons abroad are expected to contribute about 900-million Pounds (1.6-billion United States Dollars) to Britain's balance of payments in the current financial year. Military observers from all over the world, including delegates from West Germany, watched the land and air manoeuvres.
China has sent a team of military officers for the first time. Since the death of Chairman Mao Tse-tung in 1976, the Chinese government has concentrated on modernising the army.
This exercise marked the official opening of the week-long exhibition which will culminate in a display by the British Hawker Harrier Jump-jet. The Chinese delegates have expressed interest in the jet and in anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, and advanced laser and radar range-finding equipment.
Despite repeated requests from the display organisers, local crab fishermen sailed their boats into the bay beyond the hills. The fishermen feared the blasting and shelling would disturb the spider crabs and the army had refused to compensate them for loss of earnings. So instead of a firepower display by Chieftain tanks and heavy artillery, the spectators watched light arms and mortars peppering shots into the hillside.