back to article UK Reaper drone wrecked in Afghanistan

A Reaper unmanned combat aircraft has crashed in Afghanistan. According to reports, restricted technology aboard the wrecked roboplane was salvaged by British special forces and the remains were then destroyed by a bomb from a manned jet. The Sun reported yesterday that "a £50m British spy plane" had been "blown to bits" after …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great Logic

    So let me sum this up Lewis..

    Watchkeeper doesn't have satcoms.

    Why? Because we can't afford them.

    So we should buy the Reaper instead because it has satcoms.

    But I thought we couldn't afford them? Wow, that's logic the MoD would be proud of!

  2. Alex Brett

    The price

    Could the cost of £10m come from the fact they've recovered intact some of the expensive bits - otherwise surely they'd have just bombed it VERY thoroughly, as that's got to be less risky than sending in special forces to recover bits?

  3. Nev


    Rest In Pieces?

  4. Matt Kemp

    It could be..

    They've saved all the valuable bits from the crashed one, which could just be fitted into a new one?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Tell us what you really think

    i.e. you *really* don't like Watchkeeper.

    Or indeed anything else that isn't bought from the US.


    Oh yes, and 'Watchkeeper is dependent on parts and knowhow from (at the very least) France and Israel' isn't exactly true - given the drone will built under license in Leicester, and the rest of the tech is UK sourced too even if the company that makes it is (now) French owned.

    In any case getting bits from France and Israel is always likely to be easier than getting spares and support from the US - they can get a bit funny about that sort of thing. They don't even like handing over the manuals. Or letting you look inside the gear you've just bought.

    As for other comments re. weapons platform etc. I won't bother. That wasn't what was required, or ordered.

  6. Chris Collins

    Money saving

    Why not buy Reapers and give the factory workers 7 million quid? They would then be able to afford beer and fags, thus giving the money back.

  7. Nigel R

    so nothing changes then...

  8. Michael Compton

    Gaffer Tape

    Few rolls of gather tape and she'd fly again, theres nothing that stuff can't do. :)

  9. andy gibson

    The SAS...

    is what a soldier aims for when he's not good enough for the SBS.

  10. Geoff Mackenzie

    A victory in the war against the machines

    Clearly, it was trying to defect.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    With a bit

    of hard negotiation, the MoD could get the price down to about £23M each.

  12. Maurice Shakeshaft

    re Tell us what you really think...

    BAE & MoD are about to be toasted by the US over BAEs slush fund for Saudi Princes. They're unlikely to want to expose themselves to further "export control" issues by buying more reapers.

    That being said, it would imply a bit of joined up thinking that, I fear, the MoD can't do. A Russian or SA equivalent would be better but we probably can't buy them.

    I reckon its all a ruse. The Reaper was landed (roughly) and the SBS sent in to recover it so that we could give it to the Chinese and ask them to make some cheap copies. We have to leave some wreckage behind (dropped by the Heli and the Harrier and then blown up) so that the locals can remove it and American AWAC can observe the debris being carted away. A plot for an 007.6 novel.....

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Suit you, sir!

    OK, we'll have 1.7 of your finest drones.

    Ooh, would madam like one too?

    Mine's the one with 'Fast' on the back. Nice!

  14. George


    Not being funny but every other machine on the planet comes with a warranty, and costing the £10m quoted I would these have too. By the description given by the Sun I would have thought we could ask for some warranty service plus expenses, anyone care to put a price on the SBS service offered and the RAF Harrier service?

    And the Watchkeeper program should go the way of some of our other unsuccessful Euro projects. Yes some do work, Eurofighter and MBDA kit but most over priced under-specced. We could even do a "it was a nice idea at the time" and put in a museum. Shows how much faith people have in the project when BAE Systems are already testing another possible contender for service, TARANIS with full MoD.

  15. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Psychological Flaws

    "Clearly, it was trying to defect." .... By Geoff Mackenzie Posted Wednesday 23rd April 2008 12:18 GMT

    Hmmm. A defective drone ? That would be AIMaster Pilot Error or Mental Breakdown surely, Geoff. Some dude sitting Hyped up at a Console anywhere, or a System hacked?

    Flying high with them birds, you need know yourself real well, for the technology can send you crazy and into a crash and burn orbit.

  16. Steve Sutton
    Black Helicopters

    At least it wasn't shot down

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Well, the Command and Control module (which doesn't fly with the drone) will be undamaged and is of significant value, so saying we can buy them for £10M isn't quite right.

    And regarding warranties, sure they come with warranties. When is the last time you saw a warranty that covers 'light desert warfare damage'

    Be reasonable people!


    (Unhappy, just because I am today)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    IT Analogy

    "The Watchkeepers, despite costing 70 per cent more than a Reaper, are not in the same league. They are half-tonne machines compared to the Reaper's five tonnes, and as a result they cannot be armed."

    The Macbook Air, despite costing 70 per cent more than a Macbook, are not in the same league. They are 3 pound (1.36kg) machines compared to the Macbook's 5 pounds (2.27), and as a result they cannot be armed with a 250GB 5400rpm hard drive or 2.4GHz processor.

    The prosecution rests.

  19. alistair millington

    it's the MOD f*ckwits

    Anyone shocked????

    The MOD are Rtards and don't understand the concept of value for money (our money, not theirs.) the concept of their decisions cost lives (usually in some foriegn land and not whitehall) or getting the right piece of kit that does the job that is being asked of it.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    RE: Warranty

    Aren't warranties now used to state what isn't covered? May not be fit for purpose... may crash and burn... only part 2a935 will be covered for 30 days or 10 minutes whichever comes sooner... we are not responsible for our product...

    Crashed vulture waiting to be bombed.

  21. Dave Bell

    So drones are cheap?

    But I wonder what the loss rate is? Do you need to buy more to cover the losses?

  22. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    @ it's the MOD f*ckwits

    alistair millington,

    If one has a NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive Weapons System for Sale, which MOD f*ckwit decides whether they are going to buy into IT.

    Who has to be able to Understand ITs Simply Complex Sensitive IntelAIgent Design and Virtual SuperSubAtomic Trigger Mechanism/Program Algorithms.

    Surely one doesn't post to some junior duty desk officer here... ..... which appears to be the only electronic communications facility provided, with everything else by traditional snail-mail to be lost at their convenience.

    Hmmm, probably sending sensitive new information, electronically, is too dodgy with every man and his dog listening and looking in through Windows which makes you wonder at the facility being provided in the first place. Fancy Windows dressing probably.... a Spooky Bluff.

    Does Blighty have anything which comes close to DARPA ... .... or do dinosaurs walk the halls of the MOD?

    Frankly, why would anyone go to anyone who has to go, cap in hand and ask for flash cash/rotten money/morally questionable, socially hazardous investment funding from a committee which is a sub-committee of a Department which is Responsible and Accountable to another ............. which has to see ........ and with none of them having a Need to Know . No wonder the Private Sector screws them Right Royally. At Least they know that all you do is throw Lots of Money at IT Quickly or IT walks away towards the Rising Sun rather bedding in for some Hot Action with the Setting Sun.

    And with all of them living in a little world of Death and Destruction, All of their own Making. Are they all Certifiable?

    And the black chopper because they're a right macho toy for the boys which would turn any hot babe right off. So now we sort of all know who they're gonna attract, and it aint Paris and her mates.

    IT's a funny old World ..... with lots of Worlds .... and all doing their Own Thing. Time for IT to Change it with IT with CyberIntelAIgent Space Command and Control of Thought with Words that See and Hear your Future Needs and Provide ITs Feeds.

    Or would anyone Care to Disagree and Offer a Beta Alternative? We are all bound to Listen, for it would be well worth Listening to.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much is that in...

    Printer ink cartridges? I think the Reaper works out cheaper than most if compared by weight.

    Sorry. Irrelevant but interesting?

  24. Elrond Hubbard

    You know it's coming.

    Don't Fear The Reaper!

  25. Daniel


    Am i the only one who thinks that £10m is steep? surely raw components and labour, and anything else factored in don't quite add up to anywhere near £10m. It's like insurance repair jobs, quote whatever the hell you want 'cos you know they'll pay it!

  26. Andy Bright
    Thumb Up

    Are you absolutely positive?

    We're still missing a Beagle we sent to Mars, perhaps you just found it?

  27. Wayland Sothcott
    Black Helicopters

    Good target practice

    If you don't want to kill a person then shooting this plane is guilt free. They always say mechanical failure because it's true and missleading.

  28. Glen Turner


    Folks, insurance companies don't pay for items destroyed by an act of war (check your policy). Flying military aircraft in a warzone is an act of war, so taking out insurance on military aircraft is, well, useless. Assuming you can find an insurance company insane enough to offer such a policy in the first place.

    Military equipment is usually shipped "free on board" -- once it has been consigned to the shipper responsibility for making good any loss or damage passes to the purchaser. Since most purchasers are governments, they self-insure from that point.

    Sending the SBS in to grab the secret bits was a fine idea. US forces got the shock of their lives at the amount of "destroyed" US high tech equipment which had made its way to the Tora Bora caves.

  29. Will Sheward

    Presumably £17m includes....

    OK, so £17m for a Watchkeeper is a lot of money but presumably that figure includes non-vehicle related items like groundstations, spares, etc. that aren't part of the Reaper £10m replacement cost. You're making a very fair point about MoD idiocy but not really comparing like with like, cost wise.

    On the subject of the Watchkeeper not being able to carry armaments, haven't the Israelis armed some of their Hermes 450s? Personally I cannot understand why we didn't just buy Hermes directly from Elbit instead of porking the whole thing out with 'modifications'. I understand the the UK is already using Hermes 450s as a stopgap until Watchkeeper is delivered so we're obviously satisfied with the unmodified platform.


  30. Anonymous Coward

    Skynet? Oh no, run for your lives!

    He said he'd be back...

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like