back to article RAF shoots down 'terrorist drone' over US-owned special ops base in Syria

The RAF has scored its first air-to-air "kill" – where an aircraft downs an enemy aircraft – for almost 40 years after shooting down a drone over Syria. The drone's type was not disclosed by the Ministry of Defence, which issued a press statement yesterday boasting of the Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR.4's victory. "The …

  1. AnotherName

    Whoops!

    I remember the 1982 incident well as I was serving at the RAF base where the Jaguar came from. The crash siren went off and shortly afterwards there were already rumours circulating around the base that it was one of ours that shot it down. Wildenrath 1 - Brueggen 0.

    1. slimshady76
      Pint

      Re: Whoops!

      If there's anything better than the usual sprinkle of British humor on top of El Reg's news coverage, it surely has to be in the same mood as that link to the Jaguar's downing from his own pilot's mouth. I deeply enjoyed that piece, so if you could add some more salty details, I will be more than glad to invite you to one of these --->

      1. AnotherName

        Re: Whoops!

        Unfortunately (for you) I wasn't involved in the main base activities, so I wasn't involved in the airfield side. I was part of a specialist sub-unit co-located on the base, but we still got word from other areas.

        The initial rumour was that the Jaguar was shot down - this was still during the cold war, so there were massive implications in that piece of information. Within about an hour we heard that it was one of our Phantoms from a nearby base, which still raised a lot of questions.

        I seem to recall reading (or maybe watching a TV program) regarding the Court Marshall of the Phantom pilot some time later when back in the UK. There were a lot of errors and assumptions made, from the ground crew to the aircrew, and especially the armourers, but the pilot was the man who pushed the button...

        1. ian 22

          Re: Whoops!

          In this case, it appears fortune favoured the uninvolved. Shite must have spattered far and wide.

        2. slimshady76

          Re: Whoops!

          Thanks so much for taking the time to through your memories. I imagine the shitfest this two bases must have been in the times following that incident!

    2. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Re: Whoops!

      That's the RAF for you,

      The Fleet Air Arm were busy shooting down 23 Argies in the south Atlantic in 1982

      1. AnotherName

        Re: Whoops!

        Helped out by RAF pilots!

  2. batfink Silver badge

    Technically fantastic but...

    From a technical point of view, hitting a "small" drone (newspaper reports vary on what it actually was) with a small heat and radar signature with an AAM is a great feat, and full marks to MBDA.

    However I fear that the terrorists are winning the economic argument here. £200,000 for the missile vs how much for a small drone?

    I understand that the Saudis are also having a lot of success shootting down Houthi drones with AMRAAMs, which are even more expensive. The latest batch they purchased work out around $2.3M each. Ouch.

    1. Persona Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      The Eurofighter Typhoon pilot used an ASRAAM missile to destroy the "small hostile drone." The MBDA-made heat-seeking missile is estimated to cost around £200,000 per unit.

      ...... and a replacement "small hostile drone" was purchased on Amazon for £39.99 with free next day delivery.

      1. juice

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        > and a replacement "small hostile drone" was purchased on Amazon for £39.99 with free next day delivery.

        I doubt it's an Amazon special - whatever it was, it had to be fully autonomous, capable of carrying some sort of load (e.g. explosives or sensors/transmitting equipment) over long distances and large enough to be both picked up by radar and targetted by a missile.

        But I am willing to bet it'll cost them significantly less than £200,000 to replace it.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Technically fantastic but...

          The actual drone is a cheap expendable asset to facilitate other events.

          If the drone was possibly about to be used for tagging target locations* with something nasty like artillery or rockets then I'd be quite happy having a large wedge spent removing it ASAP.

          *either directly with GPS or by hand with maths a picture and a map.

          1. Persona Silver badge

            Re: Technically fantastic but...

            You could even put a laser illuminator on a cheap drone, fly it to exactly where you want hitting and follow up with a laser guided munition.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        "purchased on Amazon for £39.99 with free next day delivery."

        Better still - the drone was delivered by an Amazon delivery drone.

        1. DS999 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Which means the price is only a few bucks

          They order some useless bag of screws or something and when the drone shows up to deliver they capture it and reprogram it.

          Why not? Worked for the rebels in Star Wars, the humans in Terminator, etc. etc.

      3. jgarbo
        Devil

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        The Russian Pantsir AA battery machine guns have been knocking out similar ISIS pests for years. About £50 a pop. Probably cheaper than the drone.

        1. Persona Silver badge

          Re: Technically fantastic but...

          AA battery machine guns

          That phrase had me scratching my head.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Technically fantastic but...

            AA is an abbreviation for Anti-Amazon

        2. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Re: Technically fantastic but...

          Russian Pantsir AA battery machine guns

          Problem with machine guns is when the ammo misses, it tends to fall down back to Earth, potentially causing unwanted casualties. Probably not a problem from a Russian point of view seen the long Russian tradition of estimating human life value close to nil.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      >From a technical point of view, hitting a "small" drone (

      But knocking a $50 Aliexpress drone out of the sky with the wake of a $200K missile missing it - isn't. Assuming the drone ever existed and wasn't just phoned in by somebody on Twitter

      1. Snapper

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        Wonder what the costs of fuel and wear'n'tear on the very expensive Typhoon were when added up.

    3. nematoad Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      Al Tanf... a "relatively low-cost, high-impact tool"

      Not if it takes a £200,000 missile to knock down a small drone.

      Don't these aircraft have guns any more, or are the lessons learned by the USAF in Vietnam no longer remembered?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        Yes they do, but if it's over anywhere populated the last thing you need is lots of 27mm high explosive ammunition arriving at speed, much better that a few big lumps just dropping out of the sky.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Technically fantastic but...

          "the last thing you need is lots of 27mm high explosive ammunition arriving at speed"

          As a reminder of this: about 50 years ago a USAF jet accidentally fired off ~30 rounds "outside the box" in a targetted paractice zone in the USA during a groudn attack exercise. They tore the roof off a school more than 15 miles away. Thankfully nobody was hurt but it makes the point about where these things land

      2. ibmalone

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        The Typhoon has a cannon, but hitting a slow moving, small, hovering drone with it would be pretty tricky I imagine, the first number I've found for the stall speed is 110knots and you have to aim with the aircraft.

        Anyway, while the was a take-home from Vietnam, air-power has moved on. They still put cannons on aircraft, but since the 2000s the emphasis has shifted back to long range missiles, the technology is much better than it was in the 60s. If also a lot more expensive.

        1. Robert 22

          Re: Technically fantastic but...

          Seems that a helicopter would be much more cost effective.

          The fighter will stall if it is not flying many times the top speed of the drone and its weapons systems are overkill.

      3. cookieMonster
        Joke

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        Is that Top Gun music I hear??

    4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      Israel has much the same problem with expensive Iron Dome interceptors vs cheap/dumb artillery rockets, and increasingly drones. Not countering them risks casualties, giving your opponent a propaganda victory, or finding out that some of the rockets were nastier. Or the enemy just fires more than 20 per salvo. Hence investment in DEW as an alternative.

    5. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      "£200,000 for the missile vs how much for a small drone?"

      There's an AMRAAM sales exec sitting behind a fence launching them...

    6. Blazde

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      Highly doubt firing a single ASRAAM is going to cost the UK £200k. More likely it's one less obsolete Block 4 missile to decommission as the Block 6s enter service, a bunch of useful live fire data, and a shiny new page in the marketing brochure.

    7. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      However I fear that the terrorists are winning the economic argument here. £200,000 for the missile vs how much for a small drone?

      I don't think so. I'm sure that the RAF have stocked up with certain types of air to air missile, but having not fired one in anger for 40 years, those old ordnance have become obsolete and just been used up on live fire training exercises or decommissioned and scrapped. No big difference between shooting a little target in an active zone, or shooting an aerial dummy target in training.

    8. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Mad Magazine

      Drone vs Drone

      If the black drone somehow slips past the white drone, _then_ use the heat-seeking missile.

      1. msobkow Silver badge

        Re: Mad Magazine

        ... if you have to load or unload, go the White Drone.

        You'll Love it.

        -- Paraphrasing Frank Zappa

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Mad Magazine

          No, the red drone is for loading and unloading only. there is no loitering with the white drone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mad Magazine

            No, the white drone is for loading and unloading only. There is no loitering in the red zone.

    9. Petalium

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      200k might be cheap.If the drone was capable of doing damage to personnel and property or being capable to gather intel that would lead to to such damage it might even be a very good deal.

    10. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      Eh, as I see it, they were provided a free target for training exercises. The RAF usually has to pay for that.

    11. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      £200,000 for the missile

      To be frank, the article is missing a small tidbit of information: The £200,000 MBDA ASRAAM will be progressively replaced by the CSP (Block 4) next year. The decommissioning of each ASRAAM will cost, undoubtedly, several millions of pounds.

      I think the British public will be pleased to know that this exercise is "money well spent".

      1. Steve K

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        May be a daft question, but why decommission obsolete missiles (apparently for ££££ lots) when you can fire them in exercises?

        Is it because the propellant/explosives are too unstable after a long period and might blow up while being handled/flown?

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Technically fantastic but...

          Guessing yes, and risk of using a splodey thing after it's use-by date. ISTR that causing a bad accident on a carrier during the Vietnam war due to munitions beind old, and stored improperly. There's also a great YT channel by the curator of the battleship New Jersey that touched on this, ie when Iowa's were reactivated for the first Gulf war, they fired WW2 and Vietnam era shells.

          Also wondering if there's software issues. So if aircraft are updated to launch CAMM, is there backward compatibility to support ASRAAM.

        2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

          Re: Technically fantastic but...

          During the first Gulf War, the US Navy sent the USS New Jersey. During the opening hours of the war, the New Jersey's orders were to destroy the Iraqi Navy.

          So the Admiral called the New Jersey's captain and ask why the ship was still firing it's huge 16-inch guns. He wanted to know if they got more targets than what the intelligence told them.

          The New Jerseys captain responded with (verbatim): After this combat operation is over, the ship will return to homeport and begin decommissioning work. The full magazine of 16-inch shells will be a waste to bring home plus the boys seems to be having fun.

          The admiral replied with "carry on".

          NOTE: Knowing my luck, I am going to get a lot of negs for this. LOL

    12. Real Ale is Best

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      You'd think a few rounds from the Typhoon's cannon would have been more economic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nothing there...

        The US spent a bloody fortune sticking a helicrapter on Mars. For the bad guys - with more limited resources - this might have represented similar expenditure.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Nothing there...

          Oh FFS, move on already.

          We get it; you don't approve of NASA spending its legally defined budget on space exploration. Repeating the same sentiment here, over and over just isn't going to change anything.

          So much pent-up loathing for so long. Can't be healthy.

      2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        You'd end up with a situation like this.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY-pdk_FWh0

    13. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Technically fantastic but...

      "£200,000 for the missile vs how much for a small drone?"

      This is exactly the argument that has been made by various military types (including ship captains) for a while.

      You can send an awful lot of $500 to $2500 drones to be shot down by $200k-$1M missiles and they defenders MUST shoot down every single one because you simply don't know which of the things may have an explosive or thermite load vs just be loaded with glitter

      The other aspect of this is that defenders only have "so many" defence missiles to shoot at incoming devices, after which they have to leave the area, rely on phalanx (which also runs out of ammunition pretty quickly in such scenarios) or grit their teeth and hope

      A land-based attacker with a few dozen/hundred drones can essentially render the defences of most warships or airbases obsolete by running them out of ammunition before sending in the nasty stuff. If the attacker has a few dozen hypersonic missiles the first few don't even need to be particularly precisely targetted in order to draw fire and leave things defenceless

      As WW1 and industrial mechanisation changed warfare in unimaginable ways 100 years ago, the new varieties of small cheap semi-intelligent guided weapons are set to change things in future in ways that militarists can't currently conceive

      1. Rol

        Re: Technically fantastic but...

        I imagine just one support vessel carrying a laser could clear the air of dozens of pesky drones every minute, continually, until the nuclear plant ran out out of humph.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A winning strategy?

    > ASRAAM missile to destroy the "small hostile drone." ... estimated to cost around £200,000 per unit

    Not to mention the cost of the aircraft required to launch it from.

    However, I recall a line from the film Charlie Wilson's War about the US involvement in countering the russian invasion of Afghanistan. The idea was that the USA-ians supplied the insurgents with "cheap" missiles to shoot down expensive russian aircraft. Something along the lines of "If they can shoot down a $10 million helicopter with a $100,000 missile the russians will lose"

    The line may well be apocryphal, but tactically it has a ring of truth to it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A winning strategy?

      If you can get the taxpayer to pay for a $200M aircraft to shoot down $50 DJI drone then you win - assuming you own shares in the aircraft maker

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: A winning strategy?

      Fighting ISIS is a case of spending enough money to move all the casualties to their side of the equation because they won't give up, don't care about anything other than winning and will happily use anything they can to cause mayhem.

      We could spend far less fighting them but that would just get more of our people killed.

      The simple maths of relative monetary values come into play if there's some level of comparability between the opposing sides. Many pre industrial wars were restrained by the ability to pay for them, Spain went bankrupt in their war with Elizabethan England and never recovered their former dominant position in western Europe. Several centuries of Anglo/French wars generally ended with a negotiated deal that didn't significantly damage either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A winning strategy?

        Many pre industrial wars were restrained by the ability to pay for them

        Yes, it's tempting to think of interest rates, bonds and investment as being a modern day phenomenon, but I remember reading that one of the deciding factors behind the (mostly) successful English military escapades of the middle ages was that they were considered a safer bet economically, so it cost them far, far less to borrow money to pay for armies and navies then it did for their various adversaries...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A winning strategy?

        Erm, We’re not actually fighting ISIS in Syria, we’re protecting them from being eliminated by the Syrian army.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A winning strategy?

          Are ISIS the good guys in the Syrian war then? Who knew?

        2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: A winning strategy?

          ISIS and the Syrian anti-government forces aren't the same people, even if their objectives occassionally intersect (as in, they both want the Syrian government out).

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A winning strategy?

        "Fighting ISIS is a case of spending enough money to move all the casualties to their side of the equation"

        In a word, bullshit. The more casualties you cause, the more recruits you have.

        The way to fight ISIS is to make people better off in the first place so they're not poor and desperate enough to even consider that joining up with nutters is a good idea

        Comfortably well off people seldom turn into jihadists. The guy whose wife and kids have just been killed by a faceless remote enemy is a perfect candidate for the task (see: Luke Skywalker)

      4. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: A winning strategy?

        Caveat: Obviously placing a price on a human life is tricky in many ways, but let's ignore that and do it anyway.

        So, according to the UK's HSE, a workplace accident resulting in death costs on average £1.7M. If if we say that a squaddie on deployment being killed by a drone is a 'workplace accident', then expending a £200,000 missile to prevent it makes financial sense.

  4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    US owned base?

    Not sure the Syrian government would agree with that description. But guessing modern aircraft have fewer options compared to the old days of tackllng V-1s

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: US owned base?

      Last I heard Syria was a sovereign nation that hadn't asked the "Coalition" to operate an air base on its territory.

      (I suppose the argument could be made that the base is there to protect a minority population from the Syrian government. But if you make that argument in Syria then it could just as easily be applied to the Donbass region of Ukraine.)

      My concern is that our governments (US/UK) are always perpetually short of cash for useful things like infrastructure, education and so on but never seem to have any problem with doling out our cash for offshore bases, propping up random and invariably none too popular governments, subverting governments they don't like and the endless trough of weapons systems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US owned base?

        >Last I heard Syria was a sovereign nation

        They're Arabs without oil ie. they're fscked

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: US owned base?

          Syrians aren't Arabs being somewhat distant from Arabia. Oil explains why the US has a base there, so denying Syria access to it, and it's other natural resources.

  5. Simon Wright

    Surely it's better to compare the cost of the missile against the potential cost of the drone succeeding at its mission.

    1. jtaylor

      In the moment, spend $200,000 to defend assets worth many times that.

      If the cost of each incident is too asymmetric, it might become indefensible (pun intended.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heat?

    'The Eurofighter Typhoon pilot used an ASRAAM missile to destroy the "small hostile drone." The MBDA-made heat-seeking missile'

    What heat does a small, presumably battery-powered, drone emit? Would the missile also be suitable for destroying pigeons or seagulls?

    1. elkster88
      Boffin

      Re: Heat?

      > What heat does a small, presumably battery-powered, drone emit?

      Very little- but having seen some of the Houthi "drones" downed by the Saudis, they're more akin to an over sized radio-controlled airplane with a combustion engine + propeller, not a quad-copter style drone. Basically a conventional light aircraft, without a pilot, plus a cheap GPS guidance system and an explosive payload.

      Big enough to cause actual damage, so cannot be ignored. Not expensive to produce, compared to the sophisticated missiles and the cost of operating the aircraft used to launch them, so as long as the Houthis and their backers can afford to keep producing and launching them, they will.

      Ironically, the main danger on the ground is to be hit by drone debris from a drone being shot down, vs. from one of the drones successfully reaching their target, since the reported rate of success in downing them is pretty good.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Heat?

        Does it say it hit it? Or does it say they fired a missile and the drone subsequently didn't reach the target.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Heat?

      Would the missile also be suitable for destroying pigeons or seagulls?

      There's only one way to find out. Tell me where, I'll buy a ticket.

  7. Steve K
    Coat

    Mistletoe

    Apparently they used the foot-operated release for this weapon - the Mistletoe...

    1. Charles Smith

      Re: Mistletoe

      Get your coat? No Sir, you should be forcibly ejected into the street for that gem.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Random

    I often wonder just how bad a nuclear powered drone made from recycled RHUs poached from a certain crashed Mars probe would be.

    The problem is it doesn't need to be fully powered, just range extended over stock by feeding back surplus heat via off the shelf Peltier units.

    Shoot it down and end up spreading contamination, not shoot it down and the terrorists win.

    Absolutely horrifying!

    Fortunately even if someone finds it the chances are those 238Pu units have long decayed by now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Random

      I *really* want to get to the stage a solar-powered drone could gather enough power during the daytime, to keep itself aloft overnight, and stay in the air indefinitely. I'd put a starlink internet uplink on it, give it enough smarts to autonomously navigate, add enough cameras for a 360 degree view, and fly it wherever I liked on the planet forever! And cover it in gold leaf, so it sparkled for tens of miles away, like the golden condor :D

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Random

        Solar powered drones are a long way past staying up 24h :)

        https://interestingengineering.com/airbus-solar-powered-aircraft-breaks-world-record-for-the-longest-flight

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Random

      A while ago, some scrappers in Mexico cracked open a canister they'd found, and took the pretty dust home for the kids to play with. Unfortunately the powder was cobalt-60 from a radiotherapy machine, kids died, as did adults and it was one of the worst radioactive contamination incidents in history. Also a type of attack more likely to come from suicidal terrorists than government forces. Especially in destabilised countries that had sources in areas they no longer control, and can't account for any more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Random

        I think the incident you are referring to was in Brazil and the powder was a compound of Caesium-137:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goiânia_accident

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Random

          It's happened twice more since then, neither case was as bad as the Brazilian incident

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So a $200k missile defeated a $200 drone? Hmm.. another few such victories, and we are lost...

  10. A. Coatsworth
    Mushroom

    Brain processes of a commentard

    The RAF has scored its first air-to-air "kill" – where an aircraft downs an enemy aircraft – for almost 40 years..

    "Forty years? but didn't they, during the Falkland's..."

    [Brain booting up...]

    [Brain booting up...]

    Goddammit! forty years is the Falkland's, not WWII... I need to lie for a while

    1. Snapper

      Re: Brain processes of a commentard

      Also, all the air-to-air kills were Fleet Air Arm with the Sea Harriers.

    2. x 7

      Re: Brain processes of a commentard

      "The RAF has scored its first air-to-air "kill" – where an aircraft downs an enemy aircraft – for almost 40 years..

      "Forty years? but didn't they, during the Falkland's...""

      Nope

      The Fleet Air Arm scored all the air-to-air hits during the Falklands war, not the RAF.

      Though you have to give the RAF credit - they strapped Sidewinders onto a Nimrod and went hunting for the Argentine 707 spy planes.

  11. Aussie Doc
    Black Helicopters

    Hmm

    I'm no great terrorist mastermind but I would think that they could cause the 'good guys' to waste a lot of money and resources by having multiple, random, bulk numbers of 'cheap' drones, some armed, some not, simply fly around causing significant nuisance to the base and environs.

    I would also imagine that there are already SOPs in place to deal with such a threat.

    My old brain seems to recall this actually happened somewhere not that long ago, too. Anyone else remember?

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Hmm

      It happened in Heathrow

  12. Swordfish1

    Surely a laser, would be more cost efficient

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's only tax payers money.

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Airborne lasers aren't quite there yet. But it is interesting to note that next gen aircraft are being designed with large generators in mind, the very sort of thing you need to drive such equipment. They are coming. Tactically, ABL moves the air to air problem entirely to one of detection alone. Basically, once you detect a target you have hit it. This is as opposed to missile warfare where the very weapon includes the name 'miss' because you can do stuff to fool missile logic or shoot down the missile.

      Futurists looking at laser countermeasures have some interesting ideas around aerosols to disperse the incoming energy. Or possiy ablative armour approaches.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Elephants

    The elephant in the room is that both the UK and US have no legal right to be in Syria. They’re breaking international law.

    Moreover the US have seized Syria’s oil fields and gifted their output to Kurdistan.

    1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: Elephants

      Kurdistan?

      Shh. Don't tell Turkey.

  14. Binraider Silver badge

    One of the more remarkable things about this story is that a missile designed to engage aircraft has successfully engaged a drone, which is probably an altogether more compact and less heat emitting target than a gloriously large afterburner on a MiG-29.

    A lot of folks wrote off asraam as being a 9M sidewinder clone for national pride reasons. This perhaps demonstrates it's a whole lot more.

    1. Overflowing Stack

      Yes, that is actually technically impressive. An ostrich would be easier to shoot down! ... hang on, it's already down. OK... an eagle would be easier to shoot down!

      1. TDog

        Surely you would shoot up an ostrich

    2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Or perhaps they blew up the building it was flying past and the blast destroyed the drone. It doesn't say if there was 'collateral damage' or not.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Military Intelligence

    Using a $200,000 missile to shoot down a $100 drone is remarkably stupid. Not as stupid as spending £8B aircraft carriers with no aircraft. Or hundreds of billions over 50-60 years on ICBMs that will never be used. Though I suppose we should be grateful none of these colossal wastes of money got outsourced to Crapita.

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Military Intelligence

      Firstly, how do you know the drone only cost $100? If it's one of the Watchkeeper sized ones forces have been using in the area it will have cost substantially more than that, and been a significant portion of the opposition's budget.

      Secondly, if the drone is providing useful information to the opposition it's cost is irrelevant as you want to stop it providing that information/capability. Or are you saying it wouldn't be worth shooting down a DJI Phantom hovering over your main base as the cost in bullets would be more than it was worth?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Military Intelligence

        Firstly, how do you know the drone didn't cost more than $100?

        Whatever that drone cost was likely to be at least two orders of magnitude cheaper than the weapon that killed it. Which is financial lunacy. And that's before taking account of the operating costs of the jet that fired the missile. They'll have cost far, far more than the drone did. Consider then the hazards of putting a $200M jet and its expensively trained pilot at risk. That's not wise when all the enemy has is a presumably unarmed drone.

        Secondly, if the drone was in a position to gather useful information, it was presumably somewhere that ISIS (or whoever) opposition forces were active. Which means the drone could have been shot down by opposition ground forces with a Stinger missile or equivalent - or even a round from a rifle. These weapons cost an awful lot less than an air-to-air guided missile.

        1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: Military Intelligence

          This is naive and based entirely on the Anonymous Coward's ignorance.

          What we've been told is that it's a "small drone". In fact, reading the MOD's press release, we know it's a "small hostile drone", which means that they're using the word "small" as descriptive rather than as a categorization (a "small UAV" will have a take-off weight of up to 20lbs or 25Kgs, depending on which classification system you're using).

          If the vehicle was a "small UAV", that puts it in the same class as the US RQ-7 and RQ-11. An RQ-7 costs about $750,000(!), while the RQ-11 Raven comes in at $35K -- but that's with the handy 10,000 unit+ price break. One has to consider whether someone only building/buying, say, a few hundred units would pay closer to the price of the RQ-7 or to the mass-produced RQ-11.

          So, no, not "two orders of magnitude", and not $100.

          But more likely the phrase "small hostile drone" is being used to embellish the RAF crew's skill in shooting the thing down. It's small compared to, say, a Typhoon.

          Now, chances are extremely high that a UAV operating in Syria has Iranian origins. And the Iranians have a thing called a "Shahed 129", which is basically much the same as an MQ-1 Predator, even down to weapons capability. Pred's cost about $4,000,000 each. Maybe the Shahed-129 is less spiffy and costs, what, a tenth of that? That's a $400,000 vehicle (i.e. twice the cost of the missile).

          (Why might this be a Shahed-129? Well, during June 2017, two Shahed-129's were shot down by US F-15Es near al Tanf on two occasions. So it's not a stretch to presume that a "small hostile drone" shot down near al Tanf might be related to the small hostile drones previously shot down near al Tanf.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Military Intelligence

            Whoosh!

            Lots of ifs, assumptions and speculation.

            Regardless, it doesn't matter what it actually was - if an enemy can get a technical advanced adversary to waste its expensive "bullets", that's a win for them.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Military Intelligence

          @A/C

          Just fuck off with your troll bullshit.

        3. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Re: Military Intelligence

          And thirdly 'shooting down a DJI Phantom hovering over your main base' with a 200k missile may scratch the base's paintwork. You don't want that.

  16. Chris the bean counter

    Ironically the £200K missile had sensors and chips worse than on a £100 budget drone

    MoD procurement takes so long there is hardly a deployed weapon that has better tech than you will find in a £50 burner phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ironically the £200K missile had sensors and chips worse than on a £100 budget drone

      Try to find an IR imager you're allowed to buy that operates above 9 FPS. Ask yourself why you're not allowed one.

  17. Overflowing Stack

    Why didn't they use frickin laser beams to shoot it down?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RAF shoots down 'terrorist drone' over US-owned special ops base in Syria

    I do appreciate the irony of this international 'incident', a UK warplane flying in Syrian airspace - uninvited - over US base in Syria - uninvited. And yes, I know very well that Syria is 'bad' so we can bomb the fuck out of them (generally, because they always bought Soviet and Russian weapons over our weapons, and because they massacred our freedom fighters, while they fought our war on terrror, conveniently, overthere, rather than overhere. Though when those ex-freedom fighters try to come overhere for bomb-less lives, we look away (bad, bad French, let them people drown in our English Channel. And yes, all of this IS related, no less than a ship from China, stuck half-way in Egypt is related to shortage of shiny-shiny in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RAF shoots down 'terrorist drone' over US-owned special ops base in Syria

      @A/C troll

      Again I say just fuck off.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RAF shoots down 'terrorist drone' over US-owned special ops base in Syria

        As you no doubt to every other opinion expressed that you disagree with.

        Fortunately, no one takes any notice of you.

        Just keep taking the valium, you'll feel better.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The drone was chaff

    So one Typhoon could take out six £10K drones at a cost of £1.2M.

    With that sort of capability, they should be able to take on the Taliban air force and win this time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The drone was chaff

      @A/C. again

      Get back to Facebook

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: The drone was chaff

      Tell that to the Israelis and their iron Dome system. High accuracy interceptors at relatively high cost, designed to shoot down hordes of unguided rockets made dirt cheap.

      The cost differential doesn't really come into it, the defence capability and results do.

      If you can come up with a cheap way to do the job NATO and it's allies will be more than obliging.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    200K

    Mum, my balloon floated away!

  21. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Anglo-French? Really? I thought the ASRAAM was UK-designed and made only. French Air Force uses the MICA missile for the same usage.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      France does indeed use the MICA, but that is a very different animal. ASRAAM is most comparable to an upgraded AIM-9M Sidewider, close-range (up to 10km) IR guided weapon.

      The MICA is more like an AMRAAM, a medium range weapon for engagements probably for 20-40km.

      Actual specs and performance of course, are marketing materials so the only outfits that really know how these things perform are either those observing their use; or actually dealing with them on the ground!

    2. SkippyBing

      Yes, but MBDA which now makes them is an Anglo-French company formed by merging the bit of BAe that made missiles and whichever French acronym was making them.

  22. Charles Smith

    Refunds?

    Does the RAF get a refund on missiles that are unused? If not, the expensive missiles are the ones not used to good effect.

  23. Mr. V. Meldrew
    Coat

    My DJI won't come back.....

    Dear Register readers,

    I live at 6 Syria Drive, Manchesterford. I was plotting a course for my DJI "Phantom Menace" and was distracted by my pussy (Miss Tibbs).

    I appear to have put in the wrong co-ordinates without checking them. The DJI flew into the sky and headed away in to the setting sun.

    Funny it was around the time that the RAF fired a missile at a drone... I wonder if the events are connected?

    Yours droneless,

    Mark.

  24. volatile.memory

    “[The RAF] likes to measure its air defence mission through the absence of combat engagements…”

    There have been zero combat engagements in my neighborhood for the twenty years I’ve lived here. It must have a highly effective Air Force.

  25. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Military industrial complex

    Dont be their tool

    Are you a tool?

    Might as well be a member of ISIS

    Very little difference these days

    I’ll ask again for safe measure

    Are you a tool?

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