back to article Mantis Reaper-clone drone flies

UK-headquartered arms globocorp BAE Systems has announced completion of initial flight trials by its large, twin-engined "Mantis" unmanned aircraft above Australia. Mantis on show at last year's Farnborough airshow Praying for pork. “This achievement is testament to the can-do approach of the whole team working on this …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The smart thing to do..

    For the British the smart thing to do would be to produce their own domestic drone, even if it is more expensive than the US counterpart.

    If the UK continues to buy US hardware it leaves itself highly vulnerable. Firstly anything supplied by the US could potentially have a kill switch hidden in it in order to stop the UK from using it against the US in a future conflict, or to prevent the UK from using it against a nation friendly to the US (I'm thinking of a small state near Syria. No prizes for guessing which one). Secondly, the US defence industry is so full of holes that it's a fair bet that any kill switch in a US product is known by China. Half of the engineers in US defence companies seem to be Chinese these day, and the spying rate is appalling. Lastly, even if there isn't a kill switch built in (frankly the Us would be stupid not to put one in given that a drone could potentially be remote controlled by an enemy who was smart enough), the UK would then be dependent on the US for spare parts and repairs, as well as upgrades.

  2. Code Monkey

    Cockpit canopy-like bulge

    Why does it have a cockpit canopy-like bulge?

    I bet there's still a pilot in there and all the clever robo-pilot tech is a load of old Spinvox.

  3. Gavin McMenemy

    If Labour get relected?

    Has everyone forgotten the arms scandals perpetrated when they were in power? There's no evidence that the colour of the government will have an effect on the standard of decision making... mostly because it's civil servants that actually run the country.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    'For the British the smart thing to do would be to produce their own domestic drone, even if it is more expensive than the US counterpart.'

    You haven't been round here long have you? The track record of Britain's defence industry to produced sub-standard gold-plated garbage is a regular feature of Lewis' articles. They'd be really enjoyable if it weren't for the fact they cost us so much money.

  5. Colin_L

    What's that, a cockpit?

    Rather curious that the drone has a cockpit canopy-shaped bulge in the forward section.

    Damned if I can think of any good reason for that. Perhaps the airframe was already vetted for manned flight and it was cheap and easy to keep that shape and remove the lexan?

    Also, thanks to the Reg, for routinely referring to these vehicles as drones. Clearly they are, and the overly-long Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned *Combat* Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) are a pain in the ass compared to the simple and appropriate "drone" terminology.

  6. Colin_L

    @ Anon

    RE: US vs UK-- I very much doubt anything like that would ever be realistic to consider. No kill switch necessary.

    RE: Chinese spycraft upon the US-- sadly that is all too true. Whatever we don't freely give, they just steal anyway. And the amount of stuff freely given since the 90s is mind-numbing.

  7. Adam Salisbury

    Yet more porkbarrelling and wastage

    "The MoD has thus far refused to divulge details of project costs on the grounds that they are "commercially sensitive", while BAE has stated that the MoD has requested the secrecy."

    That just says it all now doesn't? It doesn't matter how little money the nation has, we'll still get BAE to build them at two or three times the cost so everyone can skim a bit off the top and by the time we get them they'll be obsolete. Despite the fact they can be flown by anyone who's ever played Flight Sim the pompus RAF, eager to justify their continued existence will still insist that 'real' pilots fly them (as presumably they're unsatified with all the other overpriced planes they've shelled out on recently)

    Now if were up to me, I'd buy American, reverse engineer one or two units to verify the existence (or not) or a kill switch mechanism and then exile what's left of BAE. Better no arms biz than one that's gonna siphon tax money overseas and cripple the nation's defence budget.

  8. Piloti

    Lee and Perrins.....

    "" New special sauces claimed by BAE for the Mantis include....""

    hot'n' spicey, chilli rush and super spicey I assume....


  9. knotty

    New special sauces

    What are these new special sauces you speak of? Beef and liquorice, walnut and seaweed? Do tell

  10. AlistairJ
    Paris Hilton

    Forehead meet palm of hand

    Surely we now qualify for the same deal as the Isrealites, you know, free arms and the latest ones to boot? Being such a staunch ally of Uncle Sam and all that.

    All we need now is a new breed of warship that is designed purely around the role of delivering these to unfeasibly hot places (hence, Paris).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Buying British

    What everyone else seems to miss though, is that every pound spent by the MoD on US equipment leaves our economy forever, whereas if it is spent on UK-produced technology (i.e. UK designed AND built), then that pound eventually comes back to the government, making the equipment actually very cheap.

    There is a reason that when the US goes to war it's economy booms - all that government spend on kit that employs US workers who can then spend their money on other US produce. We seem to forget this - it's simple economics.

  12. Tom 107

    Pointless article

    This article is yet another in which Lewis tries to turn off the life support machine of the patient that is the British defence aerospace industry, for little reason other than spite.

    No-one in the public domain knows what is the capability or cost of Mantis, except that it now appears that a protoptype has flown, which is a "champagne moment" in anyone's book, and congratulations to the teams involved.

    In terms of whether the UK should buy Mantis, the MOD teams will be analysing the cost vs capability of Mantis and its competitors, and if after due consideration another alternative is better they will surely select it.

    One thing is for sure, the future of the UK defence aerospace sector depends on projects like Mantis. The MOD has supported the UK defence industry in the past, on the basis that 'some' UK defence capability is better than 'none', as explained in the DIS, DTS etc, a point of view that Lewis Page clearly disagrees with.

  13. Michael 81

    Buying American is not always the cheap option.

    canopy-like bulge is there for a satellite dish for communication.

    The Mantis project was probably started when they found out the cost of buy 10 US Predator B was $1 billion.

    Which was then cancelled, probably because is was not far of what is needed to buy 10 of the extremely expensive Eurofighter Typhoon

  14. Anonymous Coward

    BAe, IET, ETC.

    Hello Lewis fans, want another laugh or two?

    The UK's former Institution of Electrical Engineers (which now laughably calls itself the Institution of Engineering and Technology, thereby duly ignoring (eg) civil, mechanical, chemical, production, acoustic, and indeed all the other non-electrical branches of engineering and technology) organises an annual prestige lecture called the Mountbatten Lecture. This years' lecture was held last week. The speaker was Richard Olver, chairman of BAe Systems. The subject was how solving global challenges demands ethical leadership.

    Mr Olver is a relatively recent arrival at BAe; I do hope his concerns about ethics have been passed on to those closely involved with BAe at a senior level e.g. Saint Tony B Liar and the Serious Fraud Office, as well as just to the grunts at the sharp end of the engineering industry (the alleged intended audience of his IET lecture).

    Now that BAe is basically an American company, do employees have to go through the compulsory "ethics training" which seems to be a requirement in many American-controlled companies in recent years? (I have worked alongside one such outfit; you have to do the training but once you've done it you must forget the bits related to honesty in business and other such jokes; if you don't, you will be marked as "not a team player", etc).

  15. John Aislabie

    Hold on a minute

    Lewis's withering attacks on the UK aerospace industry are often amusing and sometimes have some elements of truth - particularly regarding cost overruns, but this one may be a bit too quick.

    Firstly BAe ought to be in UCAVs, and if they are late well it it is certainly necessary for the UK to catch up in that area, since Reaper can hardly be the all time last word on the subject. And getting from concept to first flight in 19 months shows somebody is still pretty competent in the company.(And that also keeps down costs!)

    BUT despite references to being Reaper-like the Mantis is somewhat different to Reaper. It has 50% more power for one thing, we know little of how that is applied (more fuel? more payload? quicker time to altitude?) but I would imagine something will come of it. Interesting that they waited three weeks to announce the first flight.

  16. exit...quit...bye...quitbye.ctrl-C..ctrlX.ctrl-alt-X...aarrrr*slam*

    Looks like a warthog.

    without the hog, though.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    British Aerospace?

    Isn’t this a misnomer these days?

    BAe has been reinventing itself into a Global (sorry, American) defence supplier for so long now to enable greater access to slices of the American Defence Pie.

    It should really be called AAe American Aerospace (or to cover all bases, American, Gulf & Tyrannical Defence Corp inc.), or following a focus group come up with some new green and comforting branding, logo and mission statement!?

    [Paris, as she is has been taken from be***d by Americans too!! ]

  18. MarkP

    @ Tom 107

    "In terms of whether the UK should buy Mantis, the MOD teams will be analysing the cost vs capability of Mantis and its competitors, and if after due consideration another alternative is better they will surely select it."

    You really think that is how government procurement works? I pity you.....

  19. TeeCee Gold badge

    That's a shame.

    " at 55,000 feet as opposed to the Reaper's 50,000."

    Shame we can't get those cost figures, it'd be nice to know what the price of a 5000 foot willy extension is.

    Cockpit bulge: Simple. When the Strategic Defence Review completes and the project's canned in favour of buying Reapers, they can add some perspex, swap the turboprops for jets, bolt on an underslung Gatling cannon and develop it as a tank-buster for the RAF (at least until the next review decides that buying Warthogs is cheaper).

  20. Anonymous Coward


    If you don't like the reporting why not go somewhere else?

  21. Francis Offord
    Black Helicopters

    Are we starting to catch on

    Historically, the Labour party have systematically destroyed the British Aircraft industry along with also makinmg it impossible to defend our islands owing to procrastination. They are seen to be doing so again by denying our troops workable equipment at reasonable prices. The chief example is the Typhoon aircraft, which was years late and below original spec. An earlier example was the TSR 2, along with the Kestrel which was the Mach 2 version of the Harrier. Wilson was given instructions from the Kremlin to cancel tyhese aircraft as Russia had nothing comparable. He obeyed his masters and this has subsequently meant that we have inferior and overpriced aircraft to operate. We are seeing the results of parsimony in the increasing deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm not saying that we should give the services carte blanch but that we should listen to their often stated requirements for equipment which would be instrumental in saving lives and, ultimately, making our forces even more efficient than they already are. I hazard a guess that if the Southern Irish raided our shores with the intent to occupy that they would almost certainly succeed since we no longer have the strength in numbers to defend ourselves.

  22. Desk Jockey

    Don't buy American

    I wish Lewis would stop banging the drum for buying US kit until he has actually done his research properly. If he actually took the time to speak to the people that use Reaper he would learn that the UK has almost no control at all on how it is supported, maintained and even flown on some occasions. The UK cannot use Reaper anywhere that actually has a controlled airspace and believe it or not, Reaper is a very under-utilised platform because the Americans just use it to kill people and refuse to let anyone think of ways of making it more useful. Not so funny when it is your soldiers out there getting killed because you can't provide proper cover.

    A lot of smart posters above have pointed out the benefits of Mantis and I would add that there is a direct link between getting Mantis to theatre and it saving troops lives. On top of that, a hell of a lot of countries are interested in this and despite what Lewis might think, this could be a real cash earner if we export it because a lot of countries do not want the US telling them how to/not use their kit.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buying Britich?

    A lot of people claim that it makes economic sence to buy from BAE since its British and thus the money dosent leave for the US. But It does if you think a step further.

    UK gow pays BAE. BAE pays its US workers. The US workers spend there money in the US.


    UK -> BAE -> BAE US -> US of freaking A = UK taxpayers screwed in the rear fleshy bit.

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