back to article At the Toyshop of Doom

Today sees the opening of DSEi, the UK's biggest weapons and kill-tech trade show. The whole ExCel centre in the Docklands is full of exhibitors showing off their guns and gadgetry. The place is packed with generals and admirals looking to snap up the latest must-have piece of kit. You like guns? We have many. Also, portable …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > we'll be bringing you lots of military gadget coverage over the next few days

    Thanks for the warning. I'll make a point of not reading at all for the duration.

    Maybe I'm the only one, but pictures of guns make me feel physically sick. Strangely, I can't disassociate guns from killing and wounding and pain and death, like some people seem able to.

  2. Michael


    There's some things I've always wondered about these shows.

    Do the things they show there have price-tags on them? Are there salesmen in bad suits offering discounts if you buy now, pay 2009? Can you take samples out on trial invasions and return them if they're not up to your requirements?

  3. Jason Togneri

    Bighorn - a missed opportunity...

    ... for a Longhorn-based joke.

    (Yes, I know that in the wake of Vista all of the Longhorn stuff has been forgotten. I'll get me hat.)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Sick

    You obviously wern't brought up on Doom.

  5. James


    You can't dissociate pictures of guns from their purpose yet you can ignore their necessity in the real world? A world where conflict is inevitable despite delusional wishes that it isn't so.

    Ultimately freedom and law are defended with force. Diplomacy can work because it is backed by the threat of force if diplomacy fails. If this country is attacked by a hostile power, how would you like our government to respond? Offer the attackers a quick chat about their aggressive behaviour or armed, military response? What freedoms are left, that the government hasn't given/taken away, were fought for with guns. Your personal dislike of guns doesn't change the fact that guns are necessary and we need to arm our military with effective, modern weapons.

    Good show, El Reg, for not being afraid to cover important topics like how technology affects how soldiers fight.

  6. Tim Akeroyd

    Go on Sir, pick it up and feel the craftsmanship...

    Umm, very nice. What happens if I press this button here...?

    Aaaghhh, no Sir, NO!! Not the RED button!!!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Sick

    "Maybe I'm the only one, but pictures of guns make me feel physically sick."

    Then I'd be suprised if you didn't pass out or have an attack of some sort watching primetime TV.

    Grow a pair of processors!

  8. SImon Hobson

    What ...

    ... no Eddie Murphy jokes ?

  9. Brad


    Yes please post more, the blurrier the better. or stop rationing the camera operator's cigarettes.

  10. Jason Clery

    can you get me

    Can you get me entry into the show?

    How about a free sample of a set of Gen 3 night vision goggles?

    Please!!! I will Bambi eyes!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ sick

    Guns are simply tools, the same way that knives, explosives and cars are.

    do all those things make you sick as well, since they're often used to kill people?

    now, a gun is a tool with a very specific purpose: to destroy what it is fired at. but really now, being ill from looking at them?

    product of the liberal times I suppose. being unable to change your viewpoint or even be openminded enough to accept the reality of things is a typical sign of the super-liberal.

  12. david

    a celebration of a wise saying.

    "Peace through superior firepower."

    after all, who wants to go to war with an enemy who can rain kinetic-energy projectiles from space down on your head with no warning of what's coming?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    generic title

    @Michael - I'd quite like to know prices too, since we (UK tax payer) often end up paying for foreign arms sales via our excellent ECGD (Export Credit Guarantee Department).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the dodgy quality of the photos...

    ...I have to ask, were you really allowed in there with a camera?

  15. Bruce


    Let me guess, BAe Systems trying to con the world into buying the crap only HMG considers worthwhile? If we have to use force at least let it be well priced, on time and capable of doing the bloody job.

    Now, anybody interested in a used TU-95. Will accept a swap for a couple of Tormado F3's.

  16. H

    If you have to ask, you can't afford...

    The old addage above is still inforce at shows like DSEi* which incedentally i agree is a death-fest and not welcome in the UK. Leave it to the US. I guess Reed slacked it after years of pressure similar to the views earlier (both anti & establishment) and thinking "let's cut it loose, it's hassle" - eventually the next events company will do the same if the pressure is applied in the right places.

    *Im sure the "UK-Export Credits Guarantee Department will do nicely", no, we don't need payment details just now.

  17. Ian Ferguson

    One thing I'd like to know:

    Have you been given press passes, or did you pay to enter?

    Personally I think the whole show is exceptionally distasteful. I appreciate the need for guns in certain UN mandated peace-keeping situations but beyond that do not see the need in this world for machines built purely to kill people.

    However, those wings look damn cool.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    silly liberals.

    how are tools distasteful? yes, tools meant to cause harm to objects, but only tools. like chainsaws. or knives. or axes. or blowtorches. or cars. or piano wire.

    and yet each and every one of those things can be used to kill someone, quite gruesomly, in fact.

    so, should we get rid of all those things?

    nevermind that getting rid of guns would turn people into sheep purely at the mercy of the folks running the show, in addition to the criminals.

  19. Alan Donaly

    Oh sure

    it's fairly distasteful and wars don't really have to happen at all however that doesn't stop those who profit by them from coming to power and using this stuff so it's interesting from that level.

  20. Steve Roper

    Hey, if those wings really work...

    ...where the hell is my flying car?

  21. b shubin

    Don't be a tool

    @ sick:

    death tech - brought to you by the same species that invented the spear, the flint ax, and the bow, and proceeded to use it on other humans, not just the animal prey and predators these things were originally (supposedly) intended for.

    you're a bit late to the party.

    the wheel is used in many mechanical applications, starting with transportation; it was also used for torture and execution.

    the syringe is used to inject curative agents subcutaneously and intravenously; it is also used to administer lethal injection, to spread disease (HIV, hep) or to feed a drug habit.

    electricity is essential to most functions in our post-industrial civilization; it is also used to torture and murder people.

    an inanimate object has no intent. the Ebola virus is more dangerous to a human in the same room, than a loaded gun. actually, if the human becomes ill from the Ebola, the gun may provide a faster, more merciful release.

    objects are meaningless without context.

    as for the person who provided the traditional "damn librul" remark, after you're done grunting and scratching yourself, please consider that liberal does not mean pacifist. i am a former US Army NCO, my views are decidedly left of neo-conservative (pro-choice, pro-human-rights, anti-Iraq-war, non-religious, pro-environment-conservation, anti-imperialist, gays do not threaten my marriage, etc.), and my idea of gun control (aside from hitting my target) is teaching firearms safety to anyone old enough to hold a gun, mandatory training, no exceptions, except for the mentally challenged and the legally blind. too many kids in the US get killed by other kids, who don't know how not to play with guns.

    an anti-gun sentiment is meaningless out of context. maybe this person had a very negative experience associated with guns. could be a purely emotional knee-jerk reaction. much like your snap generalization, actually.

  22. Barnaby

    Tooling up

    The "gun is just another tool" argument doesn't appear to be that strong. Some of the previous posts have underplayed the real purpose of weapons with phrases like "to destroy what it is fired at" or "tools meant to cause harm to objects".

    Weapons are tools *designed for* harming people. A different concept to, tools that *could be* used to harm people. Weapons and their use therefore belong in a different ethical context to other tools. Hence having different outlook on weapons is justified.

    Certainly the self defense argument is good; walk softly and carry a big stick and so on. However if selling the weapons we build ostensibly for our own defense (a) puts them get into the hands of people who will quite happily use them indiscriminately (with all the misery that entails), (b) means they get used against us and, (c) we as tax payers end up subsidizing (a) and (b) above, there are clear rational and moral imperatives to improve how the arms industry works.

  23. Darren Gallagher

    As used on the Famous Nelson Mandela

    Our Government is pretty much funded by these guys. Big guns = Big Bucks. Read the book, be surprised. Definitley When children from a school set up an arms dealership, wuite successfully may I add.

    Read it skidmarks!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silly hippies.

    Stop whinging about "Eugh, makes me feel ill" or "Has no place in our country" etc. Wars happen, deal with it. People want to kill people, stop being so morally elitist and trying show you moral superiority by shunning war.

    Not all cultures and countries around the world shun war and get all "offended" at the prospect of conflict. Just because you do and most Western countries do dosn't make a blind bit of difference.

    I'd have loved to have gone - as I recall it's an industry/government only show - no public, no press etc.

    I believe the Tau of Starship Troopers is one we should all adopt "Violence is the supreme authority from which all other authority derives."

    Violence for teh win. BOOM! Head shot etc. Insert random web-ism here. : )

  25. Bill Coleman

    fucking war

    ...what is it good for?

    We've become more technologically advanced then emotionally advanced. We'll blow ourselves up if the planet doesn't eat us first.

    Looks like some pretty cool shit at that show though. We are never so creative as when we are finding ways to destroy.

  26. Russell Sakne


    Hear! Hear!

    Love guns. Hate the Arms Industry... Exporting weapons has so many times led to them being used against the exporter or their allies, and when the exports are thinly-veiled Government subsidies to our munitions industry, then I'd rather they stopped the exports and just paid BAe to produce stuff for us to use.

  27. Mark Dibley

    The Registry gives thumbs up to supporters of illegal wars, terrorists and homegrown murderers

    What a shame. I had just finished reading Mark Thomas' book, As used on the famous Nelson Mandela, and after hearing about the closure of DESO I naively believed that some sense was returning to the world.

    But unfortunately, The Register seems to think that the weapons industry is just an extension of the computer games industry and that it is fun to go "ooh! look how big a bang that can make" or "wow! it can slice and dice and comes in a really cool shiny black case". Unfortunately, the level of journalism seems to stop there (about the same level as Nuts magazine) and doesn't seem to bother to consider who are using these weapons (weapons dealers don't care if you are the "good" guys or the "bad" guys) or who are on the receiving end (always the "bad" guys, even when they are innocent civilians).

    By promoting DSEi and it's work as a series of light articles you belittle and devalue the efforts of all those people who work so hard trying to make people aware that, whether the weapons industry is necessary or not, it is corrupt, greedy and directly responsible for the murders of thousands of innocent people every year.

    So, the fact that you are so "chuffed" at being at DSEi can only lead me to say that, as a reader of The Register for 4 years, I am no longer interested in your news or opinions and I will find my tech news somewhere else from now.

  28. paul smith

    Ethical dilemma

    I always have this problem when articles come up about military tech.

    I start off reading them and grumbling about violence and the oppression and murder of millions of people throughout history, but then the small boy in me takes over with...


    Robots! Guns! Lazers!


    more gun pron please

    .....I am ashamed ;-)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hold-on, hasn't our beloved Gov killed the industry yet?

    Labour killed our successful handgun industry with a stupid knee-jerk law (which did NOTHING to lower gun-crime), why haven't they smashed the rest of the arms industry? It's successful, it makes money for the country (better than most of our European "partners"), how come Labour haven't managed to kill it? Don't the unions realise this is a burgeoning capitalist business at work here, they usually manage to ruin any of those! And all on show in Red Ken's own back yard, how amusing. My congrats to the UK arms industry for still being an area where we can hold our heads up high and say we truly innovate and often lead.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Sick, Mark Dibley and the follow on posts (james, B Shubin etc)

    Sick, you seem a 'little' melodramatic, the concept of guns isn't really making you physically sick ? Point well made though, you stirred up emotions judging by peoples responses.

    Mark, your also a little far off, do you think everyone will sign a peace pact agreeing to destroy all weapons and just swear at each other when annoyed from now on ?

    For James, your as delusional as Sick, did you not notice that most arms are used offensively when countries feel a bit brave having more arms than someone else ? Its's not really as if we use them for defense only. Most modern weapon usage seems to have centered around one large rich country which seems to position itself as world policeman (without anyones invitation).

    Hardly the scenario of "when all other options fail" and yes, us brits are the lapdogs to the latest fiasco.

    B Shubin, your idea of gun control is by my books what causes the problems in your aforementioned country, without wishing to downplay tragedy didn't you notice all the massacres that happen in your schools and society ?

    Your lack of understanding of gun control is a fairly typical stereotype to me, please take a look at gun crime levels outside your own country, will you open your eyes a little bit please ?

    You might see other countries get along quite well without the right to bear arms and try to exclude guns from getting into the hands of psycho nutters.

    Having said all that can you guys @ El Reg see if you can get one of those laser guided missile thingies, I'd love to 'test' it on my stereo wielding neighbours son....

    True Fire and Forget (about the little bleeder....)


  31. Bruce

    UK arms industry?

    Hold the phone...what makes you think the UK arms industry is a success? BAe turns over a lot of money granted, but most of it is a direct feed into the MOD budget where we the UK tax payer is stung for late, poor and vastly overpriced crap that no other government would touch with a 10 foot pole unless there was a hefty bung involved.

    The British arms industry - BAe - is actually about as much use as the great British car industry, and just about as British. Very few manufacturing jobs are actually still in this country, and if it wasnt for there malign influence at the MOD BAe would quickly be down the road and far away. Don't swallow the hype, do the research instead. Facts and Figures dude..facts and figures.

  32. bluesxman

    @ Sick et al

    A greater man than I put it best (said man being Homer) ...

    "A gun is not a weapon, Marge, it's a tool. Like a butcher knife or a harpoon, or... or an alligator."

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in two minds

    Mind A : Coool gun stuff!!!

    Mind B: Oh great, look more ways to kill, maim and generally not be very nice to your fellow man. Isn't it a shame that there is still a requirement for these things.

    I have to agree with b shubin and teaching kids about just how dangerous these things are. When I was young and went hunting with my uncles every time we were shown just what happened. A rabbit (dead) would be put over a low branch and then shot at close range. I can tell you that you would be in no doubt that they are not to be "played with"

  34. Ian Michael Gumby

    Are you all daft?

    Guns don't kill people, people kill people. As long as there are haves and have nots, or fanatics who wish to impose their vision of the world upon us, there will be a need for military grade weapons.

    Animals fight and even kill for mates or territory. While they have hoofs, horns, or claws, we have evolved in to using tools to do the dirty work.

    And for you bleeding heart liberals, remember the Falklands.

    On that first pic, the "gun" (green on a tripod) is both a 20mm grenade launcher (400rnds per min) or a .50 cal. machine gun.

    The 20mm shells can be smart shells, making easier to kill the enemy and less collateral damages.

    Next to it looks like a .50 rifle. (semi-auto)

    Next to that looks like a .30 cal rifle. (Not sure if its a .308,.300Win Mag, or .338 Lapua.

    Next to that on the left looks to be a squad automatic. Possibly a .308 (7.62 NATO).

  35. Adam Wynne

    Wheres the IT angle?

    Lewis, good on you for getting into DESI and taking photos. And to all the detractors of the weapons industry, if you don't like it, don't look. El Reg's circulation/readership will hardly change, I suspect, when the few detractors who posted here leave never to return.

    I've worked in the defence industry, at BAE SYSTEMS, BNFL, and some smaller contractors. The tech is bleeding edge, the employment in the UK is huge - so what if a few projects run over budget? I'd sooner spend the money and be able to put up a Typhoon when a Russian Bear comes knocking, or indeed, remind the French that we won at Waterloo. (What a shame the Chunnel high speed line now comes into St Pancras!)

  36. Dave

    @ b shubin

    well said, sir!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:"Maybe I'm the only one, but pictures of guns make me feel physically sick."

    ha ha.. flame on!

    maybe you should head on over to and plant a cyber tree?

  38. Rob Mossop

    Some observations

    To all of you attempting to go down the 'it's a tool' or 'without context everything is neutral' line of argument. Seriously, you just shot yourselves in the foot (pun intended). Whereas with the other 'examples' you give (syringe, wheel, hunting implements, etc.) there are clear uses that are not related to killing, maiming or otherwise harming human beings, guns and equipment of the type on display at this 'show' clearly have no such alternate use. The whole basis for the show's existence is the enabling, through sale of arms, of the destruction of other human beings. The idea that, somehow, cluster bombs, automatic weapons and missiles have a non-lethal use that might otherswise justify their existence is laughable at best and delusional at worst. Besides which, if you want a 'context' just look at the show itself, that gives them context and that context is clear: buy this equipment to kill people (or enable you to kill them more efficiently, etc.).

    Don't try to conflate this with arguments about gun control either. This is not about domestic control of firearms, it's about the proliferation and sale of arms to those who wish to meet out destruction on a national, or international, scale. Whatever your views on an individual's right to bear arms, it is not even close to a position on one country's 'right' to attack its own, or other countries', citizens.

    The problem I have with The Register writing articles like this is not necessarily the equipment itself, but the show that they are giving advertising to.

    I can see why The Register might see it as a 'cool' idea to cover this show. It often runs articles on tech-related military stories and this might seem like a natural extension of this. It is not. The only reason this show exists is to explicitly encourage the sale and use of these pieces of 'tech' where the only aim is to oppress or otherwise harm human beings. By having a presence and reporting on the contents of the show The Register implicitly condones the sale and use of those weapons and equipment. Trying to pretend otherwise is self-delusion, you're mentioning the show, you're giving it free advertising, you're condoning it.

    Note I'm not jumping up and down screaming about feeling sick or attempting to impune the intellect or personality of those posting here (or The Register for that matter). I just hope that The Register has thought long and hard about the nature of the beast it has just implicitly condoned and that it has a reasoned line of argument it can report here about why it feels it is not participating (albeit implicitly) in the promotion of the international arms trade.

  39. Bruce

    A few projects run over budget????

    Adam - When you say 'what if a few projects run over budget?' could you name any BAE project that has run under budget, early (or even on time), and been better than kit already in production from other suppliers? Why do we as UK tax payers end up paying more to H&K(owned by BAE at the time) to repair our rifles, than we would if we purchased brand new M16s? why do our Apaches cost £40 million each when Israel buys theirs for £12 million, or shall we talk about Nimrod????

    I would rather send an F-16 up against a Bear than a Typhoon and save the 200 odd million pounds per aircraft (aside from the 100 odd that the RAF will mothball because they dont want them, cant crew them and cant afford to run them) but then maybe i value my nationalistic 'pride' in BAE less than you do. I would prefer it if my taxes didnt act as a subsidy for a private corporation to produce late, poor kit for our armed forces purchased by a department of state that is so bad at its job even the govt select committee is running out of suitable phrases to describe the cluster f*** that is the MOD.

  40. Mark Dibley

    re: Bliss

    My comment is not about weapons, war or any such naive dreams as instant world peace. My whole comment relates purely to the level journalism that celebrates the weapons at this show as "Toys for boys" whilst the reality is that the weapons are often sold, either illegally or via exploited loopholes, to governments around the world that are on UN/EU weapons embargo lists. I merely wanted to register my disapproval of the proposed series of future articles that will promote these companies who exploit a system that does not do enough to ensure that the products are legally sold.

    To ask for responsible and sensitive reporting is not to be soft or a hippy. To ask for such a serious subject to be treated with less of a flippant attitude is my way of communicating grievances.

    (And yes, I am still reading this page to ensure I can defend my comment)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ....are no booth babes like those you get at PC + Consumer Tech shows?

    ps: guns, girls and IT is cool - can't you merge your website with "Guns and Ammo"?

  42. Jason Clery


    Ian Michael Gumby

    The 3rd tan one is an FN SCAR. Airsofters have this as their latest toy now

  43. Nicolas Fanget

    the channel is smaller than the Atlantic

    @ Adam Wynne

    When will Brits realise the channel is narrower than the Atlantic? We garlic-munching continentals have NO interest in hurting the UK, we all have too much to lose in a globalised world!

    Whereas your transatlantic friend will drop you like an old smelly sock at the first occasion...

    PS: although I'm not in favour of weapons, war and all the like, at least the French government can nuke whoever they decide is a threat, without having to ring Washington first.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hold on...

    Who's bright idea was it to allow the Swedes sail a warship up the Thames?

    The last time that happened they get drunk, indulged in copious recreational theft, set light to the place and took all our beautiful women!

    (Though we did get our own back by having their longship clamped in Liverpool)

  45. conan

    @Sick haters

    Hey everybody, calm down - it seems perfectly reasonable to find the whole concept of guns and killing and stuff sickening. Sure, it may be a necessity, but that doesn't mean we should all feel great about it. I reckon there's a few soldiers in the world who've seen their buddies blown to bits next to them who found the whole experience quite sickening, and they're in the business of using guns to kill people. I personally find human excrement quite sickening, but that doesn't mean that I'm a super-liberal who can't change my views and isn't open-minded enough to accept the realities of life. I've been known to excrete on occasion, but I don't hang around afterwards revelling in the joy that is my excrement, I tend to just flush and move on. I don't want to think about how I'd feel if I saw pictures of an exhibition about it all...

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Spot on.

    BAE is always over budget and half what it produces doesnt' cut it. The MOD is lacking in inteligence to this fact so the army can't get what it needs because it over pays for what it can't have. And the select commitee is lacking the power to sort them out. But our government doesn't want to rock the boat as it means jobs for Britain and that means backhanders from big business... I mean... votes... No wait I mean Peerages... errrmm..

    Did you know the aircraft carriers don't have sea harriers becaues the replacement planes don't work on the existing carriers, the new carriers are behind and so there is a ten year gap in our naval air defence. The MOD still outdated the sea harrier knowing there was no replacement. (Missiles and land based planes do the job)

    Did you know the RAF is so cash strapped the Eurofighter isn't equipped with bullets, the stress on the airframe is so great when firing the machine gun that it increases the amount of servicing beyond the monetry resources.

    So how about we rethink where our tax payers money should go and get a better deal for our armed forces.

  47. Gavin Morgan

    Guns don't kill people.....

    Rappers do!

  48. Killian


    ... are people bleating about Reg covering this? Is reporting on an event the same as "promoting" it now? Maybe the nature of the reporting? Well it's not exactly an advertorial and I seriously doubt Reg readers are the target market for this kit in any case... although many are interested to see how the tech of the day is applied is this context, however unsettling some people may find it.

    The fact is, the reporting on this event has provoked some debate about the significant ethical issues that are raised... surely a good thing. I don't think it's fair to 'shoot the messenger', even with a really cool gun.

    And I suggest that anyone wanting to read articles on serious subjects without the "flippant attitude" has come to the wrong place entirely.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guns don't kill people,...

    ...bullets do.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A message from CAL

    Here at the Campaign Against Life we wholehearted approve of more technology of death and salute el Reg for providing us with more.

    As everyone knows the only good human is a dead one.

    We hope to promote more ethnic sectarian violence based on trivialities such as religion / skin colour etc with the ultimate aim of precipitating global thermo-nuclear war and the summoning to Earth of the eldar god Aztaroth (which amounts to the same thing).

    Yours in blood, charred bones and screaming madness,


  51. Mark Dibley

    re: Killian

    A point well made. Perhaps "promoting" was ambiguous. I certainly didn't mean that the Reg would advertise guns to potential sellers. I was more referring to the attitude of the article that portrays tech in weapons and a weapons exhibition as a fun and jolly thing.

    As for The Reg's "flippant attitude", I believe there is a colour coding for when things are a joke and when things are a serious article. Plus, The Reg will always throw a quip in at the end of an article, but here it was made from the beginning.

    As I originally said, I have found that my sense of humour has obviously parted with that of The Reg and sadly I am no longer in the right place for reading tech articles. Some things are just not worth having a laugh about.

  52. Tom Cully

    Drop the flowers, man...

    Guns make you ill. OK.

    Newsflash: Your eyes face forward. Just like the guns, you're only designed (ahherrrmmm... evolved) to do one thing. I wonder how ill they'd make you out in the wild with an empty belly, and two rounds between you and starvation - or between you and the guy who is going to rape your wife?

    Sorry to disturb your "sensibilities". Life for a lot of the world is ~still~ war, hunger, pain, death and bloody mayhem, and It would still be in the western states but for colonialism and use of force.

    Get over it.

  53. Alex Hawdon

    @Rob Mossop

    "The problem I have with The Register writing articles like this is not necessarily the equipment itself, but the show that they are giving advertising to."

    Advertising... hardly. I don't think anyone in the market for the wares on display at this show is likely to be browsing the Reg on their lunch hour. And if they are I don't think their reaction, upon stumbling across this article, will be anything near "Oh sh1t! How did I miss that arms fair?! Fire my secretary and make sure I get a ticket for next year you incompetant fools!"

    Weapons Systems != FMCGs...

    And to all the people wondering why this has been covered - simple: thinking up better ways to kill each other / stop other people killing us advances technology faster than anything else. Nothing like a good war between the most technologically advanced states to stimulate 50year's worth of technological progress in a fraction of that time.

  54. Jason Clery

    Guns don't kill people.....

    wrappers do

  55. philip jeffery

    Get the facts right

    For a start everyone that believes "DSEi = Only products that kill people" you are completely wrong, yes there are products at the event designed to kill people but there are also a number of products designed to save them, for example the Panther that BAE Systems are exhibiting is safer for our soldiers because of the armour and design when compared with the current land rovers.

    Also for everyone that feels like slating BAE Systems, lets see you back up your comments with facts. There are a number of big projects that have gone over budget and have been delayed, but can you say that about the 1000's of other projects that are going on within BAE Systems.

    Also about the eurofighter comment, the reason it isn't armed with bullets has nothing to do with the stresses on the airframe. Its because dogfighting between jets hasn't occured in years, why take something on a flight that you would never use.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...i got my badge

    and i'm off down there tomorrow

    if i can convince work its a relevant trade fair

    working in education, probably not ;o)

    wonder if i'll get any free samples????

  57. Mark Wylie

    Learn to tell the difference...

    ...between the necessary evil of maintaining a military-industrial complex for purposes of defence and the unecessary evil of allowing the military-industrial complex to operate in a corrupt fashion and exert an undue influence on domestic and foreign policy and the shaping of the geopolitical landscape.

    In the current UK economic and political landscape it doesn't matter who is elected to parliament, they are obliged to maintain the same commitments to the defence establishment, which controls the flow of a massive amount of wealth to and from the electorate.

    Eisenhower remarked on this threat in his farewell address to the nation and the current sitution - a severe risk to democracy - has come to pass as he feared, in the UK, France, the US and elsewhere.

    It's not the guns you should hate - regardless of your ideology there will come a time that you will need to defend it with force or yield - it's the unaccountable behaviour of the companies that make them that you should concentrate your ire on and influencing government to hold them to account that you should concentrate you energies on.

    I have been involved in many campaigns against proliferation and corruption in the arms industry (a couple of them were even successful), it doesn't mean I don't enjoy target shooting, clay shooting and hunting little creatures and eating them.

    So go on Lewis, cover the DSEi by all means but it's not a fluff piece.

  58. Bruce

    Ok, i am game...

    Philip Jeffery..........i am up for it.

    Cost of Eurofighter program to UK stands at £15.9 BILLION. SO FAR !!!!

    Total MOD budget for 2006 around £30 Billion. RAF budget always strangely 33.3% of the total.

    Orders from the RAF first tranche 144 units (115 active rest as spares)

    Second order tranche committed to by the government but unwanted by the RAF (not enough pilots etc, 7 squadrons only wanted) bring total to 232. Remainder will be mothballed.

    Cost per plane for the 232 is £86 Million (lets say $175 Million). Cost for the original 144 that is actually wanted of which perhaps as few as 120 will ever fly is closer to £175 Million (lets say $350 Million). That is per Unit.

    Projected Per unit cost of the vastly better F-35 will be $55 to $70 Million depending on the model type.

    Time of project from start to operational status 21 years. (remember how this was called Eurofighter 2000...yep thats how late it is)

    And that is just what it has cost the UK

    Oddly enough both the F-16, F-18 and the F-22 Raptor come with a cannon....and the 'why take something you would never use to a fight' argument has never stopped the navy ordering loads of anti submarine frigates 16 years after the Red Banner fleet tied up and started to rust, and since the EF2000 is such a great air superiority fighter it is interesting to see what it will be up against since the only comparable air superiority role would be held by an F-16, F-18 or F-22?

    Alternatively, the Saudi Air Force recently obtained 72 F-15 with all the kit for $372 Million....around $3 million a pop.

    Now Philip, if you still want some fun and games do you want to play with Merlin next or Nimrod?

    All figures from either Manufacturer, Global Security sources, or from the Author of the original article in The Reg, Lewis Page and his excellent book 'Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs'. Available in all good bookshops

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Selling the Brit advantage

    It seems we Brits (and I'm talking about all ethnicities of Brit) have always had the brains and superior tactics militarily, but what we've often lacked is cash to actually buy what we produce!

    Hence shows like this where our best kit is sold to the highest bidder!

    I'm all for having an Army and one that's capable of defending our soverign rights, it's what we pay our taxes for, so I'd be much happier if we kept all our best tech stuff for ourselves.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Home Delivery

    I've looked and looked but I can't find the Sinkka flatpack Corvette anywhere in my Ikea catalogue, does anyone know the page number and if it's available for home delivery?

  61. John

    to simon hobson

    Let me be the first to say:


  62. Simon McMullan

    Only dangerous if used for their intended purpose...

    Is it right to have an arms sale? Depends on what your selling, and who to.

    Anybody who believes that the sale of weaponry contributes to democratic freedom is misguided. Although high tech systems make for impressive pictures, the international arms trade is all about small arms; guns, grenades, ammo, artillery, land mines, tanks. These items are the weapon of choice the despot, the tyrant, and the terrorist. All of the major military powers build their own kit - therefore, international arms sales' target audiences are, almost by definition, aimed at the ambitious third world gangster planning (or repressing) the next coup.

    The arms industry brings in a lot of bling for the UK, but who from? People we should really not be supporting, that's who. Saudi Arabia, a theocratic monarchy in which it is illegal for women to drive, has been the UKs most consistent customer since 1997. Is it morally right to take their money? It's not going to be used on us (probably), but does that absolve us? What about selling arms to Bin Laden? Or Hitler? Would the boost to our economy outweigh the moral issue? I don't think so.

    For those that say that weaponry is inert, and that responsibility lies with the user, I point out that these items have been designed for functionality. A landmine is stepped on and maims you. Napalm sticks to your flesh and burns you. A hollowpoint bullet expands in your body . Cluster bombs. Daisy cutters. The products of design, and far from inert. Could you justify selling equipment specifically designed for torture to the Saudis? How about a machine that skins humans ? What about a nuclear bomb? If not, your argument is invalid; you're conceding that there is a moral responsibility associated with the sale of the kit, but that the financial allure of the sale overrides any moral compunction.

    Finally, whose money are you taking? Is it ethical to take the money from a despot when you know that the purchase of this equipment is taking food from the mouths of the poor. Can you really shrug your shoulders and say 'not my problem/If it wasn't us, they'd buy it elsewhere anyway'. This is also the argument used by opponents of civilian gun control with regard to acquisition of guns by criminals. If you sincerely believe this is logical, rather than just want to have a gun yourself, then, by the same logic, it's inevitable that Bin Laden or his ilk eventually get their hands on WMD, so we may as well sell it ourselves and make some money out of it.

    If weapons really made the world safer, then arming everybody would result in less violence. Would you really feel safer if everybody had a gun?

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would you really feel safer if everybody had a gun? - maybe?


    Would you really feel safer if everybody had a gun?


    Maybe i would, here in the country los of people do have guns and dont kill anyone!? - just some rabbits and other animals, but genrally not peopl.

    In the "inner cities" people with guns, tend to kill other people with guns, usually over the supply and marketing of substances a lot more harmful to society than the products being sold at DESi

    therefore maybe if the "inner city" brigade "took each other out" in some for of evolutionary "mutally assured destruction" then after an initial "surge" then the streets would become safer?

    then maybe you could ride a train without having to endure having to listen to the dreadful noise that some people call "Popular Music" played on a loud but tinny speakers, without due care or consdieration to others, maybe if they knew that others were "tooled up" they would show otehrs some "respkt"?

    maybe they woudl also not discard their litter, or dump fast food, vomit and urine all over the streets and public transport system!

    failing that, maybe we coudl have lynch mobs, or is Hemp/Nylon rope also considered a lethal weapon and we should have that banned or prohibited from sale, in case some has a n accident, but i figure it would end the golden age of sail as all the boats would drift off at the first tide?

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Channeling a mental picture of Harlan Ellison

    "Is it ethical" / "could you justify" etc

    The fundamental problem with this argument is that there is no universal moral law, or universal moral policeman, and that ethics and justice are cultural inventions. Human beings are animals designed to procreate, and society is a tissue of polite convention. There is no God or spiritural force to prevent a strong country from plundering the resources of a weaker country. Karma will not strike the strong country down. The strong country will not be punished in the afterlife for what it has done, and the same is true on a human scale. Can you imagine the rapists and killers in Darfur wringing their hands over an arms fair? They will grow old and die with with the knowledge that they killed and murdered and raped, and they will shrug it off just as solicitors and IT support workers shrug off the drunken fights they get into on Friday night. We are squeamish in the West about killing and weapons because we are not used to them; other cultures love death and spend lots of money to create it. We are not better than them. We are different.

    The twentieth century saw dictators and tyrants who killed millions for personal gain, and who themselves died happy, of old age, in luxurious splendor. A tiny minority of these tyrants were killed or thwarted or brought to justice, but most got away. Justice does not exist unless people invent it, and it will not work against people who are not frightened of it. That is why there has been such a fuss about international law over the past few decades; people and politicians have finally realised that there is no heaven and no God, and that justice only exists if it is invented and enforced, here on Earth, and it can only be enforced with force or the threat of force.

    The only people who win the game are people who die happy, and if people die happy after spending a lifetime pillaging and raping and killing then they die happy all the same. This squeamishness about an arms fair is sickening, naïve, childish. Human society is a swarm of ants fighting each other on a giant pyramid of ant corpses, and when millions of ants have died for imaginary Gods and meaningless forgotten Kings an anteater comes along and swallows us up, and it does not matter who was right or wrong, or just or ethnical; politeness means nothing in the belly of an animal.

  65. Jason Clery

    everyone with a gun

    "Would you really feel safer if everybody had a gun?"

    I would feel safer if

    1) firearms to individuals were licenced and needed proficiency/psychological tests before purchase.

    2) I was allowed to carry a firearm.

    3) there was a list of "schedule 1 offences" that allowed the shooting/killing of the perp.

    4) the law would back me up if ever I had the unfortunate luck to require pulling the firearm and using it.

  66. Alex Hawdon

    @Jason Clery and the NRA, or whatever it's called...

    As far as I'm aware America satisfies points 2-4, and although we only hear the horror stories about states where anyone with a working hand can go and buy a gun, conversely there must be states which have stict licensing regulations; are these states particularly safe places, given that they satisfy all your criteria?

  67. Jason Clery

    @Alex Hawdon

    No. the state borders are porous (spelling), so whatever laws any particiular state has, are meaningless. Hillbilly Buckfumbler can cross state lines and get him an assault rifle, yes siree.

    I also said I would feel better if I were armed. I also know that I won't go around shooting people, and would keep the firearm in a locked safe when at home, and would probably not carry it unless I was going somewhere dodgy.

    A firearm is not a toy. Yeah, its cool to hold and fire, but at the end of the day, its not a toy. Take it out you better be prepared to use it.

    As with all forms of fighting (including brawling, and this British thing about "knocking you out"), I don't fight. When I do, I consider it to be life threatening. If I fight, I am prepared to kill, and prepared to die.

    There have been far too many people who have died from one punch etc. Any attack should be considered an attempt to kill you, and you should react accordingly. Firearms are handy for when you are outnumbered (which is most of the time. Troublemakers usually need their gang to hold their c***s before they are brave enough to stir).

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Bruce - Ok, i am game...

    Congratulations for picking out a project that is easy to rip apart. Yes it has been delayed, but thats because the MOD changed their requirements. It was initially designed to fight the cold war, when that ended they changed the specification. Which is the biggest mistake to make when making a product.

    You can rip apart Nimrod and Astute if you wish but they are just as easy.

    But try doing it for every other project that BAE has been involved in, if BAE products were always delayed and they weren't very good, why are countries buying their products?

    Also a few BAE Products that are better than any of their competitors: M777, Insensitive Munitions, Type 45, 105mm light gun

  69. Jason Clery



    South African G5 and G6.

  70. Simon McMullan


    I disagree with your comments regarding the irrelevance of morality in human behaviour.

    Social Darwinism has been used to justify the most base behaviour by everybody from the eugenicists of the 1940s to the free-market libertarians of today, but the actual basis for SD is not logical. You espouse the arguements made by the religious in the face of rising atheism; if there's no god, then nothing matters, so we may as well behave as savages. To be an atheist is to be a savage. As Dawkins is fond of pointing out when confronted by this line of reason, are you really suggesting that the only reason religious people refrain from murder and rape is because they're scared of God? I take it that you are yourself an atheist (as am I) and are viewing this element of human behaviour through the prism of your disenchantment with the moralizing hypocrisy of the church, but you are mistaken. If anything, secularism has been an overwhelmingly positive force for tolerance and freedom; you cannot argue that human behaviour is becoming less civilised - how many vegetarians do you think there were in England 100 years ago?

    There is such a thing as morals. Although they're intangible, they are none the less universal. The same moral standards apply across all human societies regardless of level of socioeconomic or technological development, race, or religion. I'm not going to go into the detail, but these things have been objectively studied by psychologists and philosophers, and they find that when presented with moral scenarios (is it morally justifiable to kill an innocent person in order to save the lives of 5 others? etc) that the answers are the same. You may argue they're not based on anything real, because there is no god, but your own arguement (we're just doing what comes naturally) is based on the same premise; that intrinsic human behaviour is a real force. As you say, justice exists because it has been invented.

    More importantly, even if it is in human nature to kill and conquer, that does not mean we have to shrug our shoulders in the face of the inevitable. It is in human nature to enslave the vanquished, to rape, to steal, but we have power over our impulses. You are absolutely correct that a certain section of society will follow these impulses, and will not regret them. The murderers of Darfur probably will die old and powerful, but I don't think that we should sell them weapons just because they're always going to be out there.

    In the 21st century we do have alternatives to hitting civilians with pointy pieces of metal when we're not happy with the way their leaders behave, and our economy really does not hinge on selling exquisitely designed killing machines to second rate despots obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses.

  71. Alex Hawdon

    @Jason Clery...

    Yeah, you're absolutely right about the porous state borders thing, and (though a little extreme) I do agree with your comments about fighting, which are especially poignant these days when if some thug starts on you and you push him over and he accidentally dies you'll almost certainly do lots and lots of time...

    I guess the problem boils down to this: if the world was mature enough for everyone to carry guns without massive adverse effects, then they wouldn't make things any safer.

    The reason I believe it would be a massive problem is the rampaging herds of chavs and general idiots; the people who are irrational and quick to anger and perceive everything as 'disrespect' as they don't have the capacity to properly analyse anything. These antagonists used to be into fighting. Over time the bar has been raised and now they're more disposed toward stabbing - do we really want to raise the bar further?

    *goes back to his Daily Mail* ;)

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