back to article UK importing Army spy-drones to replace losses

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has moved to rapidly acquire more surveillance drones, placing an urgent order for Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from Israel. The robot aircraft are needed for ongoing operations in southwest Asia. Hermes 450 L The Hermes 450 drone aircraft. The Hermes 450 is a large, capable …


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  1. Paul Fleetwood


    You'd have thought the massive proportion of the US military/industrial complex who are employed thinking up acronyms to make unpleasant killing machines sound more friendly could have done a bit better than to leave a lower case 'o' in there

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Gov - please waste MUCH more of my cash...

    Is there anything in the Military space which can be built cost effectively in the UK? If the Apache really cost 3x the US models then this is a disgrace. As usual a case of jobs for the boys!

    I've decided that my new business is going to have to develop a military product based on something already available overseas. Should pay for the swimming pool and country mansion...

  3. James Pickett

    How much..?

    You have to wonder how they cost these things. Drones might have some smart avionics, but mechanically they are dead basic, and you can buy a very smart single-engined Cessna or Piper (with auto-pilot and computer navaids) for under £200k. What's the other £7.8m for?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multinational corporations / genocide of the starving nations

    "This pressing need isn't at all surprising, with the UK MoD revealing last month that it has lost or wrecked more than 70 drones in Iraq alone just since 2003."

    One day there will be a museum to these fallen warriors, who were made from metal to die on our behalf. Hopefully these drones will be near the front, so that we can put them into historical context.

  5. James Penketh

    Re: How much..?

    The other £7.8m is for lining the pockets of everybody involved, IMNSHO.

    I mean, come on. This country used to be great for it's engineering skills, what happened?

    Oh, right...

    the greedy unions, the corrupt governments selling them out, outsourcing, school not teaching proper skills (instead, concentrating on this 'committee' and 'teamwork' BS.)

    Why built brilliant equipment when you can buy a piece of equipment from the yanks, at five times the original price.

    GET WITH THE PROGRAM! Start by firing all those damned management staff, and hiring people who have a clue.

    My tuppence, for your perusal. If I have offended anyone, stop being a soft pillock, and grow up.

  6. SpitefulGOD

    Cash wasting

    It's incredible how much money the government wastes, they bought our software for £4000 in a local authority, to implement it cost them around£245,000. The cause I feel is meeting after meeting after meeting all in the hope that the blame of any project failure can not be pinned down to one person.

    But to be honest this technology rocks, I wish I had one and the cost isn't much in the scale of things, if it saves lives it's worth it.

  7. Rob

    Public money

    James Penketh - I agree, your hired ;-)

    "The cause I feel is meeting after meeting after meeting all in the hope that the blame of any project failure can not be pinned down to one person." - Got it in one, meetings about meetings, so that people can manoeuvre themselves into a position where they can claim some of the glory or pass the buck, which ever looks like the better prospect.

    My last IT project using public tax payers money ended up being slightly under budget and delivered 3 days before deadline. It's still working and since I have made modifications and I'm still rolling out functionality. I have no formal project management training or qualifications but I have been got a degree in common sense and tend to read and listen when embarking on projects. Is there anyone in government that can say the same?..... I'm waiting

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems sensible, actually...

    OK, so 3 times as much is maybe too much, but in principle I'd rather we spent more to keep at least some technological expertise in the UK. Part of our strategic planning has to be based on the possibility that maybe our traditional allies (e.g. US, Israel) cease to be allies.

    If we buy everything from overseas with no capability to manufacture locally, we're pretty badly fscked in the event those people don't want to sell to us any more. I'd pay extra for the insurance. (The fact that someone like Thales is overseas owned is irrelevant - in the event we required it compulsorary purchase/nationalisation of the UK facilities would be trivial; building the capability up from scratch less so.)

  9. Nigee


    Total cost of watchkeeper is not just the birds. It's also assorted

    sensors (expensive), ground control stations and probably 10 yrs of

    spares and at least some contractor support, plus bits and pieces such

    as initial training. Then there's mods, takeoff and landing on

    something other than concrete or tarmac, changes to the flight control

    s/w for different payloads, not to mention probably getting it safety

    certified to UK standards (to enable flight outside military airspace in

    UK), maybe even re-writing s/w to safety critical standards (the

    precious citizenry of UK might get a tad agitated about 'unmanned war

    machines' hitting their roofs). Then there's standardisation, NATO

    seems to be getting excited about any nations' birds being controllable

    and able to dump data to the ground stations of any nation, means

    standardisation and new equipment that has to be integrated. It all

    costs and has no shortage of engineering challenges. (particulary given

    UK's totally woeful system engeering skills), a big contingency sounds

    wise to me.

    The reported loss of 70 birds in Iraq is probably not just Phoenix.

    They've being buying mini-rpvs (ie hand held and launched by 2 bods +

    bungy cord). No doubt some of these have become the worse for wear.

    Phoenix has done a surprisingly good job considering it was designed

    for NW Europe where there are no sandstorms and it doesn't get too hot.

    They've also being flying them at ranges from their control stations

    that were beyond what the book said was possible (perhaps the book was

    sometimes right).

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