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back to article Blighty's stealth robojet rolls out a year late

The UK's "Taranis" robot stealth jet has finally rolled out of assembly, the year after it was supposed to be in ground testing. The Taranis UCAV at its rollout ceremony. Credit: BAE Systems Doesn't even save British jobs, let alone lives Taranis, a jet-fighter-sized unmanned aircraft of the same general sort as the USA's X- …

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Only one year late?

And only £18million over budget?

I'd say that's a win for the British defence industry.

It's bound to get the chop :(

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Anonymous Coward

SUCCESS!!!

That must make it one of the most successful MOD procurements of the last 30 years.

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Taranis

80% reduction in Propulsion Jamming systems activation cost

Cool!

http://www.eve-wiki.net/index.php?title=Taranis

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Pint

Ahhh

but it does it come with face melting blasters?

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Happy

Yep - that's BAe

"An industrial capability for which we have no identified requirement"

That sound like BAe all right. Indeed the same could be said for much of the UK defence sector, along with other usual suspects like GEC, Westland, etc etc.

These companies employ some bright engineers (crap management though). Maybe they should do something more constructive rather than starting prjects for stuff that nobody wants, nobody can afford, and that will ultimately fail.

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Happy

title

> along with the other suspects like GEC...

The defence parts of GEC were sold to BAe nearly a decade ago now. Still, thanks for your comment.

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I know, i know...

I know its useless, serves no purposes and accomplishes nothing for the UK military but i gotta say the Taranis looks awesome!!!

That is how a fighter jet SHOULD look...

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Welcome

All it needs...

... is a red light strobing across the front...

May I be the first to welcome our Cylon Overlords!

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Boffin

Cut to hot blondie...

... saying: "It has begun."

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you were funnier when talking about robot overlords

I know Lewis reckons we should just buy everything from the yanks, but I do think it's worth financing these projects to maintain a domestic technology base; no sense them having all the fun. 150 mil is small beans, in government terms.

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Yeah - but

Why aren't we investing that money in things people will actually buy? You know - consumer items or even some lovely high techery to help rebuild our crapped out infrastructure.

As the article says the RAF doesn't want and can't afford Taranis - so if our own forces won't have the thing who are we going to flog it to? We can't expect the Saudis to cough up now BAE has been caught bribing them for their previous crap planes.

BAE has to be the worst company in Britain and one that makes me nostalgic for our crappy nationalised car plants and steelworks. Its products are universally shite, overpriced and never less than laughably late. It's nothing more than a blackmailer - 'keep buying our lousy planes/frigates/submarines/guns or we'll fire the workforce.' Close it down, give the workers a small lottery win apiece, buy American/French/Swedish - and not only would we have stuff that works, we'd be better off.

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FAIL

Did you miss?

"Furthermore, Blighty's fighter factories haven't built a new plane on their own since the 1960s: all the UK forces' current aircraft are full of imported technology and have been for decades."

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Black Helicopters

Don't forget

Spitfire was designed way before the RAF realised there was a need for it.. so don't be too harsh on the defence industry having some balls and putting money into something just because they think it will work out!

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Anonymous Coward

The Ministry wanted a better fighter in 1934

And issued specification F.36 for an 8 gun fighter with what would become the Merlin engine.

They same year they had issued a specification for an 8 gun fighter with an air-cooled engine for use in the hotter parts of the Empire.

The first spec gave us Spitfire and Hurricane.

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Unhappy

If only...

That's the problem though. It's not BAe's money - it's the tax payers. These companies NEVER spend their own money. So if it fails, what do they loose? Not much is the answer.

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Not so daft...

Rolls Royce may have been the key.

They're still building and selling the best jet engines in the world.

In 1934 an air-cooled engine wasn't a silly option, and the USN preferred them, all through the war. Match a late-war Spitfire against an F4U Corsair, and I wouldn't like to say which was a better fighting machine. Most likely, the better pilot would win. The Bristol Hercules had the power to compete with the Merlin.

The Spitfire and Hurricane didn't come out of nowhere. Supermarine, Hawker, and Rolls Royce already had the telented engineers. And, in the aftermath of that era's Great Depression, the government was trying to keep those design teams intact.

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Flame

£143 Million?

Nice to see my taxes being well spent .

/sarcasm

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Dilemma

Given the rate of USAfication by BAE, at what point do their products switch from being:

'Useless overpriced UK crap whose only role is to protect jobs'

to:

'Proven value for money US kit that we should buy lots of'?

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Re: Dilemma

> 'Useless overpriced UK crap whose only role is to protect jobs'

> to:

> 'Proven value for money US kit that we should buy lots of'?

Given BAEs track record in this area? Not any time soon. They supply overpriced US crap for which we pay an additional premium, as far as I can see.

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Never

When the merkification is complete we'll just have useless, overpriced, imported crap instead.

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Black Helicopters

@SlabMan

Name the 'proven' US kit. Their drones are all pretty shit if you read the history!

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Happy

@Adam Salisbury

"When the merkification is complete we'll just have useless, overpriced, imported crap instead."

Only problem with this.

Merkins reckon BaE is French, hence *very* skeptical stuff passed to them won't end up in the "wrong" hands.

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Proven?

Im not convinced a lot of military tech is properly proven sometimes.

1) does it power up?

2) does it fly/move/float?

3) does it do anything it shouldnt at this time?

4) did it cost a LOT of money and are the units very expensive?

If so, deploy it and see what happens, can always fix it later.

If not, keep working on it whilst we request additional funds to "fix" some problem.

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Did they...

...import the parts from Gadgetzan?

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Looks like a winner

So by defence contract standards it was delivered practically on time, practically on budget. In addition they managed this while reducing staff levels...

If the thing is actually fit for purpose and the government allows BAE to sell it widely, then they may have struck gold.

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Black Helicopters

For whom?

For BAe, maybe. Anyone want to take a bet on how much of the resultant profits will be taxable here?

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I though the picture was taken from Return of the Jedi at first

... I was expecting to see Darth Vader descend from the plane... that's a pretty cool photo.

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Anonymous Coward

pork barreling is what politicians are for

Expecting those 100k indubitably highly skilled people to do something useful or even halfway economically sensible is too much to ask then?

Common sense tells me they just might, if you take them out of BAe. So letting the 100% pork barrel-fed moloch die mightn't be a bad idea after all. For that you don't even need highly expensive rounds of privatisation, salary raises and bonuses for the brass. But that doesn't net "constituent representatives" any kickbacks, natch. Carry on government.

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JDX
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Sounds cheap to me

In terms of designing/building a new military plane, that sounds very cheap. And the increased cost is an overspend of about 15% which is pretty good actually, I don't think many software folk would consider that a failure.

It DOES look lovely, what more is needed?!

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It is cheap, compaired to the US built equivalants

Smaller US drones are costing 800million+ dollars (the Phantom for instance) and seem to have lower spec.

This aircraft has deep penetration capability and the fact that the RAF don't want is a good sign - people who 'fly for a lifestyle choice' are not going to be keen on a remote piloted drone.

BAE have built this to export (all UK source parts) and it will be cheaper and more capable than manned aircraft so the export potential is there.

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Big Brother

Banality of Evil

Great - now we too can have people who can murder others with total impunity and at no risk to themselves. This needs a logo - Who Do You Wanna Kill Today (TM).

Here's a premeptive stike on the headless, brainless, kneejerks:

"We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force." General McChrystal.

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Joke

Yeah but...

...flying these things 2000km behind your own front line will give all thos fat barstards who weren't quite good enough to play computer games for a living some kind of hope of a job!

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Good looking white elephant

Can it!

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WTF?

"Giving BAE the Taranis project seems to have done little to preserve jobs, however."

This seems a very odd assertion, given that we don't know how many jobs would have been lost from the U *without* the project.

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Sanity Calling

£18 million over budget and a year late for a new aircraft? It sounds like they didn't do to bad! Why moan about that when there are plenty of other projects, type 45 for example, that are nearly a billion pounds over budget?

At least this looks like a technology demonstrator.

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Anonymous Coward

@ spider from mars

I agree completely.

It seems Lewis likes to forget things like the missing Chinook software:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6808604.ece

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Stealth would be handy

Its all very well saying we should be buying cheaper kit from the states, but what if the states isn't willing to sell? They won't sell anyone the raptor because they don't trust anyone else with proper stealth, and even JSF may well come to us with broken stealth (there was a big uproar about that a few years back, don't know whether they ended up getting the full stealth package after all). But the bottom line is that it sounds like having the domestic ability to have stealth withhout having to ask the americans permission, given they seem likely to say no, seems like a good move.

Incidentally, if the coalition ended up killing Trident and replacing it with a cheaper deterrent, a stealth bomber seems like the only alternative plausible deterrent. Whether that's an argument for or against keeping Taranis depends on whether you reckon Trident will or should be cancelled, and whether the presence of an alternative makes such a cancellation more likely or not. But JeffUK's point that building stuff on spec instead of depending on the MOD to spot a requirement before its too late to fill it from scratch is well taken.

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Cruise on subs?

Surely the obvious alternative to Trident is to fire up Aldermaston and get them to build a few Tomahawk warheads and then mount them on the Astute-class SSNs.

Not a true strategic deterrent, but it's really hard to prevent an Astute getting into Tomahawk range of your country.

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Dex
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I...

WANT!

Anyone see the proggy on C4 about Concorde last night? Yes i know it's not going to fly again and yes it was expensive to run but damn, if i had a couple of mil i'm my back pocket i'd buy one, get it airworthy again just to have my own PERSONAL concorde, Bet Richard Branston Pickle doesn't have his own personal Concorde does he? Sure he's got an ISP, Airline and rail company but his own personal Concorde? i think not!

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You forgot...

... his own spacehip!

Concord was cool, far beter than anything else ever invented in the world, ever.

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Anonymous Coward

As I recall

Branson / Virgin wanted to take Concorde off BA's hands and continue flying them, but BA refused. Kind of like the way Governments do stuff like after the Beeching axe, tear up the tracks and sell off the land so the next Gov. can't reverse the destruction; I forget what they did to TSR-2. Destroyed the jigs and blueprints?

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Alert

Trebles all round then...

Nice idea really, someone at the ministry had a very nice lunch when they decided on this.

I hope we never have to use it,

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Heres a plan...

Scrap the RAF and merge it, and it's budget, into the Navy,

Let the Navy decide what it needs (catapults on the carriers and working destroyers etc.) since we are an island nation it makes sense to me.

Never mind the fancy Typhoons, build something more useful like the Buccaneer or Sea Harrier, and lots of drones - ie things with a specific role in mind that does it well.

Maybe think about breaking up BAE and keep the useful bits - whichever they are.

ttfn

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Heart

Yup

I distinctly remember the navy winning the battle of Britain so you're spot on.

Also, every country we need to bomb will always have nice big Oceans and coast lines so that the effective range of our planes will never NEED to be extended by, say, a local airfield.

Drones are also 100% better than any manned aircraft ever was. Just check the statistics for Desert Storm when the drones scored a huge 50% success rate on their missions...which is much better than the near 100% success rate of manned F117s.

Also, the Harrier is much better at counteracting fast threats such as the new generation of SUs being flogged to every country which hates us than, say, the Typhoon which is so slow compared to the Harrier.

I also think that the private company BaE should be fully broken up by the state, along with any other successful business!

Spot on.

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Terminator

Probably irrelevant

I am scared. Yeah, it looks cool. Yeah, it's probably one helluva piece of kit.

However, it's a machine with guns and bombs, and it fucking FLIES! Meatbag controllers are in the loop now, but how long until some buzzcut somewhere decides that some egghead's improvements to target acquisition reduce collateral damage to within acceptable limits and decides the robots should have fully autonomous fire control?

I hope I'm wrong. I hope I just have an overactive imagination and too big of an obsession with science-fiction.

Then again, the EU have been rolling out a system of networking all vehicles, weapons and ordinance.

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Terminator

Title? Whatever, I can't be arsed thinking of a title.

"the RAF is a lot more interested in jazzing up its new Eurofighters to be more capable of ground attack duties"

"jazzing up" - heh, haven't heard that in years...

Looks a bit too much like Cylon raider to me. We'll rue the day I tell's ya, rue it!

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Flame

The Problem With Merkin Weaponry

..is that they are more often shiny than really effective.

Examples:

F-15: Expensive, Great Radar, mediocre aerodynamic performance, mediocre weapons. Better choice: SU-34 with electronics beefed up by Israel Aircraft Industries, EFA or Rafale. Better AAMs are Vympel or IRIS-T.

F-22: Super-Expensive. Mediocre payload because no hardpoints. The Merkins can just afford 150. Better choice is the Sukhoi/IAI SU 34

F-35: Expensive, Mediocre payload. Wasting weight and money on HTOVL feature only the Midget Navy and the Merkin Marines need.

Better choice is the Navalized Sukhoi/IAI SU 34, or the Rafale-N and a real carrier.

Abrams MBT: A true American Gas Guzzler. Better choice is the EuroLeopard with it's MTU Diesel.

C-160 Transport: An aircraft which was up-to-date in the 1960s. A much better choice is the A400M – faster, lager, longer distance, same rough-terrain capability.

C-17: Only useful for real, heavy aircraft runways. Better choice is the Antonov An-224 superlifter, the biggest aircraft to ever fly. Buy the blueprints for a few Mercedes Limos handed to the corrupt Ukrainian politicos and let IAI (or your own country's a/c maker) manufacture it.

Patriot SAM: A toy compared to the Russian S-400, at least on aerodynamic performance/range.

I could go on writing about some nifty super-silent subs from Europe, stealth frigates, and the Israeli stuff. Or why Merkin hit-to-kill SM3 is pointless when Topol-M ejects twenty decoys, each looking like the real warhead. But the above list should be sufficient.

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FAIL

Methinks someone is getting their designations confused...

"C-160 Transport: An aircraft which was up-to-date in the 1960s."

Do you mean the well-known Transall C-160 designed and built in Europe, or the dash 30 variant built by Lockheed (C160-30... could almost be mistaken for a C130 :-) which does actually hail from across the puddle?

"C-17: Only useful for real, heavy aircraft runways. Better choice is the Antonov An-224 superlifter, the biggest aircraft to ever fly."

As someone else mentioned above, the C-17 is capable of rough field operations, so I suspect you're thinking of the C-5 instead (although that too is capable of using the Antarctic ice runway). Now, either of these tried and tested designs, by virtue of them actually being real aircraft, would be a far better choice than the An-224, since that's just a figment of your imagination. Whether the An-225 would be a better choice is another matter, however...

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C130, An225

Yes, I meant the Hercules and the Antonov 225. The first is a transport that was great in the 1960s and Lewis wants to sell it as something much better than the A400M, by the simple virtue of being a Merkin plane. Fact is, a 1960s a/c can't compete with a 2000s aircraft.

Then Lewis will undoubtedly invoke the C17, which is bogus, as you cannot operate it *practically* on anything than a proper runway that can also carry a An225.

An A400M can operate on the same makeshift airstrips the C130 can operate. That's the difference.

Using Anotonovs is exactly what NATO is doing - airliftingmost stuff "cheaply" to Crackistan in the attempt to "save the Afghan women from illiteracy" (or something).

The C17 is an expensive thing that does not do all the things boeing *claims* it can do. But it's Merkin, so it is by default better, in LP's mind.

The economic thing is not to use C17, but the Soviet monster a/c.

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FAIL

Think of the grunts!

Slight problem Willy with your wonderful A400M. While on paper it's great aircraft, it has a major issue if someone takes a pot shot at it with a AK. With the bloody thing being composite you make a severe structural foul up that's not easy to fix in the field. Meanwhile the dog ancient Hercules you get some grunt in the field to slap a quick repair over the hole, rivet it up, and it's back in the air. Cheap, effective and much easier to keep in the air. Sometimes old simple tech is better than state of the art.

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