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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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.

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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.

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@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.

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Guns don't kill people.....

wrappers do

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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.

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Anonymous Coward

well...

...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????

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

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to simon hobson

Let me be the first to say:

Achwell!!

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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?

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Anonymous Coward

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

<Snip>

Would you really feel safer if everybody had a gun?

</Snip>

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?

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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.

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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.

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@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?

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@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).

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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

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M777

Pah.

South African G5 and G6.

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Ashley

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.

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@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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