79 posts • joined Thursday 14th June 2007 12:01 GMT
On the whole quite good
Nimrod is sunk cost, forget it, as to yachties amiss mid Atlantic - tough titty. Incidently the Nimrod R1s have/are being replaced by Rivet Joint (read the small print in the MoD paper). ASTOR is no loss, it started out in the early 1980s as a good idea from teeny weeny airways (AKA Army Air Corps) to get some small fixed wing aircraft with palletised mission loads, then the RAF got hold of it.
As to escorts, I reckon the admirals have been saying, 'PM, think what the Rep Tops will say when a Chinese SSN pops up in the Atlantic in a few years time' (assuming they aren't already there but no one's noticed). Escorts are also quite useful, if I understand it right the only enemy ships sunk since Suez by UK were by heli launched anti-ship msls from frigate based heli (FI and Gulf). Amusingly Herr Page seems to be ignorant of this. That said said, I agree that the suitable capability of a future frigate type ship (in the Nelsonian sense), affordable in useful numbers is a tricky one.
Harriers are absolutely no loss as a means of delivering firepower, the only positive thing that can be said for them is that they are better than nothing, but some might debate even that. Bugger all endurance/range, bugger all weapon load. They were introduced during the Cold War to enable the RAF to escape from the handfull of fixed bases in Germany, they absorbed a lot of resources (including Army signals and engineer regiments), end of Cold War made them redundant, even more than tanks. And in the Cold War they were little more than duty targets for the impressively integrated SGF air defences not forgetting the Spetnatz party. A lot of wasted money over many decades - the Army could have had decent attack heli decades ago.
The Army's reorg is basically that set out by Dannatt several years ago, problem then was that there weren't enough resources for 6 multi-role bdes, but there are for 5, each including a small regiment of tanks, some armoured infantry and a mix of 155 armd SP (with armour busting smart muniitons) and light artillery. Those that have read the MoD paper will have noted that FRES continues -'FRES UV will be the main vehicle for most infantry' with the recce version in the armoured recce units. The concept of the large multi-role brigades equipped for a wide range of operations is a good one, and also less wasteful than having specialised bdes, which is what almost every other army has.
Of course the touchy question of infantry battalion (probably no cavalry units and the others don't whinge) disbandment has been skipped for the moment. The least cost effective infantry are now the Gurkhas, they've been priced out of the market by well meaning people (think Ms L), but the Sultan of Brunei's contribution (he permanently hires a battalion) may yet save them.
I agree about much of the individual kit issue, theatre specific gear goes back a long way, think khaki shorts in N Africa or solar topees in sunny spots in the 19th century.
Re splashing tanks, smart munitions don't have to be launched from expensive aircraft, whether pilot onboard or not. Missiles are much cheaper to launch from the back of a truck and smart things can be fired from guns as well as the dumb stuff which is going to be around for a long time yet for various purposes.
The Lativian response tends to support the notion that old habits die hard in that neck of the woods - shoot the messenger it's so much easier than fixing the problem.
Being a small country it makes one wonder who personally knows who, do I detect sect 13 of the Old Mates Act being invoked?
the right track
Over the last few years both Richards and the guy before him are both on record as saying that the nature of warfare is changing, and all forms of war will increasingly have 'unconventional' characteristics. Both men recognised the need for a limited capability to ensure against asymmetry from heavy forces against lighter ones. Hence the need for a residual 'heavy metal' capability. FRES and moble light forces are actually the sort of forces predominalty required.
However, the need for firepower is not going to go away and precision indirect fire reduces the need for heavy direct fire, things like anti-armour sensor fuzed munitions delivered by 155mm shells against tanks and precision HE against other targets eliminate most of the need for things like main battle tanks. Guided MLRS (227mm rockets out to some 70km) is very popular in Afghanistan. For many tasks smart rockets fired from trucks are a lot more cost effective than smart rockets fired from hugely expensive aircraft (or even somewhat less expensive unmanned ones).
Being a fair minded and not totally ignoant person, perhaps I should point out that not all 85,000 civilians employed by MoD are 'in MoD'. I think MoD has less that 10,000 staff of all types, uniformed and not. There are lots of civil servants in training schools doing clerking, routine driving, and other admin stuff, and teaching (the defence driving school near Hull is an awesome place and almost all the instructors are civvies (even if a lot are ex-military). Then there's logistics, unless its a field deployable capability storage, supply, transport and maintenance engineering is almost entirely by civilians, either contractors or defence civilians. Oh, and we mustn't forget the defence scientists either, also all civilian.
Sorry if the facts destroy the illusions of some of you ranters from the anal aperture.
Nothing really new
handheld ballistic calculators - been around for 30 years (although this one may use NABK and that needs some grunt and precise trajectory closure may need a lot of iterations).
handheld laser rangefinders - ditto, although this one is very short range.
electronic moving aiming marks - ditto, been used in artillery sights for 20 years.
using rangefinders to determine wind - nothing new here either.
Invites the question 'what took so long to package this into one device' ?
a view from above
UK also operates quite a lot of small, cheap and cheerful hand launched US UAVs - Desert Hawk, currently up to about Mk 3. These work well but have very limited sensor capabilities, can't fly very high and can't fly for very long. Watchkeeper is the next level up, quite big, good sensor fit and flies for a useful length of time (sufficiently long that they can use airstips well away from the action instead of having to be launched from trucks closer to the action).
The problem with armed UAVs is that they have to be able to land with a full munitions load, this means they have to be a lot more capable (read, stronger and heavier with bigger engines) than would otherwise be the case. Naturally this has a price.
The Watchkeeper contract is not just airframes, it includes sensors, ground stations and their vehicles (Viking armoured ones, which are not cheap and are going to be relatively widespread). The Watchkeeper figures also include maintenance and related costs for however many years (this is how MoD budgeting works), and a substantial ground training facility (including new building). Typical US vendor figures carefully omit all this stuff. I think some of the ground training will include contractor staff, some of whom will be ex-services.
Incidentally, there is no evidence to support the b0ll0ks that all Afghans support the Taliban. In fact it points the other way. A small number support them, a small number are strongly opposed and the vast majority are waiting to to see, although having experienced the Taliban would prefer not to have them back. Taliban terrorise the locals into helping them, this is one of the reasons they are called terrorists. I won't go into what looks remarkably like a demonstration of German incompetance (failed to keep the Taliban away from civilians).
not paying off ' law enforcement'. Good article in this weeks Economist. If you think Russia bears any resemblance to law enforcement in the west then you are very very deluded. And there's bugger all prospect of it changing.
good to see they're awake
CSOC are in the organisation that invented serious encryption busting.
Then there's the issue of sovereign govts giving themselves the right to look at any data on any device in their legal jurisdiction (national security).
Add to this the woeful capability in some countries to investigate and their courts enforce data privacy laws (or little or no deterrence to data theft), particularly when the 'nice little earner' is bigger than the possible penalties, coupled with plenty of corporate incentive to cover it up anyway.
The ranks of senior positions in MoD is to a considerable extent determined by the civil service grades involved at the same organisational level. These are determined by civil service rules, this is a far bigger issue than MoD. Of course this might be a bit difficult for the peasantry to grasp, so its much easier to indulge in underinformed rants.
The rank inflation problem is worst in the RAF, they've managed to convince everyone that one of their flying squadrons is equivalent to a battalion in the army, it balloons nicely out and upwards from there. Navy flying may well be similar, but army flying squadrons are company level. WO & NCO pilots in RN and RAF would be a good step forward as well.
I have a cunning plan
Just say you're doing the eye stuff then shakedown everyone wearing dark glasses.
reinventing the wheel
To be consistent with other domains it should be called the RMP - Recognised Maritime Picture.
If the FBI are looking for a high assurance 'Yes/No' answer to the question 'does this face belong to this name' then they are correct, all they'd get would be a 'maybe', or perhap a 'no way'. What FR can do is produce a short list of possible (and often ranked) identities for a face, and this is very useful for some purposes.
Why is it that self-styled activists declare that whatever they are activisiing against is illegal? I guess it makes them feel rightious. However, accusing someone of acting illegally when the accusation is wrong must be close to defamatory - what is and is not legal is clearcut in many cases and definitely so in this one.
Judging by the pics the buildings in Afghanstan where problems lurk are a bit short of windows. Furthermore, unlike some other armies, Brit tactics tend to prefer speed and surprise with good training. Tossing balls all over the place too see what's there is a slow and methodical approach and is not guaranteed to get better results or lower casualties. A few years ago a Brit platoon fresh back from Iraq did a house clearing demo for the German Army officers' school, fast and hard, the Germans were amazed because they do slow and methodical.
On digital soldiers, UK has run several trials but hasn't yet found the combination of gear that might do to get the show on the road. Recently quoted interviews with US, German & UK officers concluded that US and German soldiers would take anything they were ordered to use not matter, Brit soldiers want to be able to individualise everything and would not use stuff that didn't work well and wasn't convenient to use or wear and useful to them.
"The first wave of traffic from the botnets coincided almost exactly with the time that (Russian) planes were taking off from the carriers off the coast"
That could be a bit tricky given that the Russian navy doesn't have any servicable ones. But why bother when Russia and Georgia share a land border. I do hope this "researcher" does his other research a bit better.
Just needs some care,
An enforceable legal position whereby under no circumstances can medical information be harvested by a foreign govt or any entity not directly involved in treating the person without their informed consent, this includes anonymised data.
Access permission only given by the person unless they are unable to give it.
All entries must be attributed and attribution must be tamper proof.
Patient can make entries and may delete entries but the fact of the deletion, the date and identity of the original entry must be retained.
So jabbing someone to death with a fire sharpened spear or slashing bits off them with a blunt sword is ' humane' is it? IIRC the first weapon to be banned were dum-dum bullets about a century ago on the grounds that they inflicted shocking wounds. Far better to be instantly disassembled by HE, delivered by whatever means.
Apers mines (not all land mines) and small (not all) bomblets were banned because they create a 'dirty battlespace' that causes civilian casualties later. Not because they are inherently inhumane (whatever that means).
As for the learned gent's view, it confuses 'targetting' and 'delivery'. Some one somewhere has to decide what to attack with some degree of precision (which might be very broad). Then a weapon is aimed into this space, either at a point on the earth's surface, or at an identifiable target or into an area where it will detect and home onto a target.
The RAF had con-commissioned pilots into the 1960s, they were the sgt pilots of WW2 vintage who had kept on flying and reached WO rank. On the other hand the Army Air Corps adopted non-commissioned pilots from the time they were formed in 1957, although their lineal predecessors in the RAF AOP sqns used only army artillery pilots who were commissioned officers. I think that today the AAC has a majority of non-com (incl WO) pilots, and some of the officer pilots are not AAC but from other parts of the army and completed a pilots course, the current head of the amry wears pilots wings and is an example.
A few years ago parliament inquired into the whole matter, the RAF gave their reason for stop using non-com pilots as the introduction of air delivered nuclear weapons!
Incidentally RA aren't against armed UAVs, they are heading towards a loitering munition (an expendable armed UAV) as fast as they can. It appears that for the moment they've concluded its more cost effective than arming recoverable UAVs.
that's a relief
So the European rail network signalling is OK, this is safety critical software governed by various regulations and standards, so it demonstrates that in this case at least safety critical software processes work.
The cheap solution
Remote operation is part of the new generation of UK armoured engineer vehicles - Titan, Trojan and Terrier. The first two are probably heavier than a tarted up D9 and they're probably all more expensive, not to mention more capable.
Economically from the national perspective it makes some sense to maximise UK content, assuming the companies make a profit some comes back in tax and their employees all pay tax, then there's the local benefits of a well paid workforce and the effect they have on local businesses, the council's tax base, etc, etc. If the loot stays in UK it circulates in UK, toss it to the excited states of hysteria its lost to the UK economy. Of course MoD should be arguing this as a reason for their budget to increase.
And by comparison UK is a very open defence market, a quick glance across the channel mon ami? Or try Germany, don't like them, then I offer Japan, they buy lots of foreign equipments and make it locally, and don't delude yourself that they do it cheaper.
On FRES and GD, my understanding was that the vehicles are basically designed in Switzerland. And since when did UK use 'scout' vehicles? Is this another indictment of UK education, they can no longer spell reconnaissance?
I certainly agree about the RAF, their raison d'etre was strategic bombing, a mission now assigned to Trident therefore no longer any justification for an independent airforce. I look forward to the resurrection of the RFC.
The whole point of tactical UAVs is that they fly in the area of interest of the tactical commander on the ground. In Afghanisatn the easiest solution might be to secure the odd mountain top and put the UAV ground station there with a high bandwidth line of sight terrestial link to wherever imagery is needed.
Incidentally it's only in the old fashioned services, RAF and RN, USAF, USN, etc that insist that a driver chappy has to be a proper orrficer. In the British army air corps most pilots are sergeants & WOs, they are trained as pilots having reached substantive corporal in any part of the army. A few years back there was some wonderful stuff in the Parliamentary Defence Cttee hearings when the elected representatives chastised the RAF and RN over their elitist ways, and RAF/RN justifications were BS and fiction of a very high order.
SINCGARS, actually an 'enhanced' version. All the radios are 'off-the-shelf' US ones from companies like ITT (VHF) and Harris (HF), the single (US) prime contractor who was supposed to get the whole shebang working together even failed in such basics as having common batteries for the HF and VHF radios (which Clanman had), no doubt because the radios were basically US off-the-shelf (civil servants following the expert advice from participants of forums such as this).
However the PRR (very short rnage personal radio which is classed as part of Bowman but entered service a few years earlier is not US (although the USMC purchased lots in a hurry) and was UK designed and produced.
The only good news is that the infantry section radio, which is the one causing most of the bother, is not too widespread (there aren't exactly thousands of infantry sections) so a replacement should be affordable, that's assuming there is something capable of doing the job.
Incidentally, it's only universal encryption that's new with Bowman, Brit soldiers started using encrypted VHF with Larkspur (BID 150 over 40 years ago, it used punched cards for key settings) and new devices became more widely used with Clansman.
if there was 10M worth of kit that was actually needed this week they'd almost certainly get it. The flow of new stuff is unabated and some of it is replaced with the latest version with each 6 month troop rotation. There's also a lot of battle experimentaion to try and sort the 'great idea' from the 'really useful on the ground', not doubt anything emerging from the Grand Challenge will get the same treatment. It's also clear that the real shortages are of some of the new items for training in UK before deployment. Perhaps at bit less attention to tired tabloid headlines and quotes from the immortal private tommy snooks, instant expert on everything.
I'd give all the crap about more Chinooks at bit of examination too, crews may be a more pressing need and if extra were really needed then no doubt funds could found, one teeny problem - delivery time in years. Big surprise I know, but you can't just pop down to the showroom and fly one away. It's also noteworthy that most movement in Afghanistan in totally unsuitable for Chinooks, it's boots on the ground stuff from the local forward operating base. Swanning around the desert in 4WDs doesn't contribute a huge amount either (just because that's what jolly jack does at sea doesn't mean tommy does it ashore).
don't let the facts get in the way of a story, but
GMLRS has a range of 70km not 40
There is only one regiment of MLRS, the TA regiment provides limited additional capability
Pictures from Afghanistan consistently show GMLRS being fired from within large base areas
GMLRS can only be used against targets that are not going to move
Loitering Munitions are being designed to deal with targets that do move and can be controlled from the ground by the guy who can see the target and coordinate the attack with the troops on the ground (and with a high chance of not engaging the wrong target including friendly troops)
GMLRS like any other artillery engages targets 24 x 7 at short notice (ie minutes) aircraft can take hours to turn up.
This is a
US problem. When relatively unlamented Phoenix UAV was designed for the British Army in the 1980s it was designed to fly itself, all the NCO operator did was guide it to where it was wanted 'flying the footprint' it was sometimes called. Of course it used a launcher and parachute/bag landing so avoided the issue of automated takeoff and landing from a runway (which were assumed not to exist given its limited duration and hence need to operate close to the front).
The UK govt is now spending lots of money to make the Israeli Hermes 450 UAV into auto takeoff/landing for Watchkeeper so that it can keep using NCO operators.
of aerospace coys bearing male gifts:
Pedro - what eez ze sensor fit
AeS Coy - mon brave, in zis special offeer it eez ze box brownie, wiz the bonus of a spare for every ten aircraft.
Pedro - but I 'ere ze Breetish are getting lots of exciting things
AeS Coy - zis is true but they plan to use their aircraft whereas you just want them to line up on the ze airfield zo zat ze colonel can inspect them wiz occasional flights over the Costa del Sol
Pedro - 'ow many ground stations
AeS Coy - mon brave, for you we offeer ze one, but it eez the articulated air conditioned passion wagon version, your pilots will luuv eet, zo will ze laadeez from the Costa del Sol
Pedro - what about the support contract
AeS Coy - mon cher, that eez extra, depending on the level of support and 'ow hours more than 10 you fly each year. Our offeer starts at 25% purchase price per year.
Pedro - and the training package
AeS Coy - - - - - well you can guess
the real question is
why does UK implement this bilateral agreement before both parties ratified it? This seems highly unusual to say the least.
the only thing that matters
is that health record data can be reticulated among all health service providers and related parties, with the normal provisos of informed patient consent, etc. This is all about the semantics of the data, we'll assume (heroically) that syntax is not an issue. What applications store it, display it, analyse it, whatever, don't matter a sod as long as it's bang up to date and available to the clinicians, etc, who need it, when they need it without having to twiddle their thumbs waiting for it.
The real alternative to Chinook is Sea Stallion, used by USMC and German Arrmy, the former with a new version in the pipeline.
Lots of people wittering on about heavy lift. Heavy lift is primarily for equipment, the current needs are predominently for men, because light forces are now the need, this was not the case when UK purchased Chinooks. How many men do you want to lift in one heli? Divide by about 6 gives 'cargo' payload in tonnes.
There's a long record of military aircraft reliability being something that develops over time, it's a matter of building up flying hours to identify the problems, a function of the number of aircraft and their individual flying hours not to mention the frequency of inspections. Problem with Merlin is that they are few of them and it's going to take time to accumulate the flying time to debug them.
Of course transport helis are merely a means of getting from a to b, they don't actually do anything militarily useful like killing the Queen's enemies before they kill you, and other honourable tasks.
Economic theory is that specialisation by groups means that some are better at somethings, others at others, and that best economic benefit is gained by buying from the expert producers of whatever it is. Globalisation means that specialisation may be in different places around the world. This is fine for cars, TVs, etc. The question is the extent to which it is acceptable for defence equipment. The reality is that no nation can afford to be entirely self-sufficient, not even the US. The discussion then gets complicated, but it's unlikely that the answer is to buy the cheapest that vaguely meets the requirement from wherever it's made.
I'd also speak from personal experience and say there is no shortage of crap equipment from any country. They all produce some real dogs and retain once reasonable gear well past its use by date.
Yeah, right. However, the card details are probably being used for third party purchases from legitimate merchants, with the goods then being fenced. Or the card details are being sold in the black economy for that purpose. I suspect the card companies have rules about how soon payments are made to new merchants' accounts, just as the banks have put in a time lag for your new payees when you use online banking 'pay anyone'.
PCI DSS leaves a lot to be desired as a 'standard', there's several ambiguities and some will argue that it's no more that a lawyers' bean feast to enable the card companies to offload liability. The fact that the 'standard' is crappy doesn't stop companies using compliance with it as a PR smokescreen. It's a beautiful concept a shonky standard that gets the corporate players of the hook leaving the poor old card holder with the problem.
As for fines, the acquiring bank can fine the company, but the real financial penalty is the $25 + 5 per card that card issuing banks, etc, can charge the offending company. 94M x $25 is not an insubstantial amount. So what's stopping them?
by cheap paint, geckos excepted. Or perhaps there's an emerging market for 'pull-off' surfaces. I can just see the caped hero making her path up the wall with paint stripper.
Actually gunners have pretty well stopped being infantry for the moment, and are fully involved firing light artillery in Afganistan.
The LM concept as a 'war winner' has been around for a decade at least, however, its only recently that technology has reached the stage where it can be 'low cost' (no doubt a relative term).
The advantages of LM over armed UAVs is that they can be in more places at once. LM will probably be fired from their box strapped to the back of a truck, no UAV landings, return flights, sortie rates, refuelling, servicing, etc, etc. You've got 50 UAVs, you'll be lucky to much more than a third of them in the air over possible targets. With LM you can have 50 over 50 different places. However, UAVs may be used to control some of them, particularly against targets in depth, where squaddies are a bit thin on the ground (but not entirely missing).
While the LM controller (or at least the guy who is told you've got a clutch of LM nearby, can hit whatever you want 30 secs after its picked) will not be an officer, he/she will have an officer nearby probably selecting the actual targets including running a quick mental check on what the lawyers said to ensure no war crimes.
should be fun
at the bean feest in Malaysia, with that number of participants the first question will be whether they are for or against cyber-terrorism leading to the second "what is it", some participants will doubtless regard a less than adulatory ditty about their beloved leader as terrorism.
time moves on
The interesting thing is what happens in some other countries. When you wang in your passport app the first thing they do is digitise your new pic and compare it to their passpic db, this reveals rated matches of your face with others and you current face with those of 10, 20, etc years ago. Although these arrangements are still fairly new they are revealing all manner of naughty folk. Anyone who still thinks that pic matching sucks is well behind the game, it's surprisingly good in real world situations and getting better all the time. Adding a finger scan or two would just be a bit of jam on top.
Basuically this means that fancy enrolment arrangements aren't needed, supply details and pic and then interview to sort out anomalies. Of course driver licences are the obvious place to start but UK's been a bit behind the game in photos on on these.
Good analysis and sound conclusions in the piece. Knowing when not to shoot is often more difficult that knowing when to.
Illegal war, what tosh, international law is merely an acadenic lawyers' wank if it doesn't deliver the goods. And it doesn't. Saddam and his fellows were extremely unpleasant individuals, it suited the West to support him (ish) and his ilk elswehere during the Cold War. Now we have a moral obligation to get rid of them using whatever means its takes.
The worst outcome from Iraq is that we don't have the resources to deal with the scum running Zimbabwe.
we have a problem with terminology. 'Misfire' means it doesn't fire when the trigger is squeezed, totally different issue to dropping it (usually butt first) and it firing of its own accord. 'Self-loading' was a perfectly accurate description of SLR, just because some nations would call it semi-automatic doesn't negate this or its validity (its also shorter and brevity is best - hence "rifle" not "assault rifle" - a term used by w*nk*rs).
A bit of digging will reveal that inf APWT is out to 400m and if IIRC they have to achieve a certain minimum score at that range.
There don't seem to have been any complaints about A2 reliability from current operations. People keep asking about it and no one seems able to come up with any dirt (so to speak) apart from regurgitating the problems of the original. This suggests that MoD's claims may be right, frankly I wouldn't expect anything else, the trials were conducted by serving soldiers not the big bad evil empire called "MoD", if they had been a form of Zimbabewen election then word would have got around. What we really want to know is how bad all the others were and whether or not any type of AK was included.
Value for money is what counts, in the greater scheme of things small arms themselves are peanut money for a small force like UK - how does it compare to the price of other basics like good boots or NBC suits? The original problems arose (accident or design?) from a flawed acquisition process that had the weapons trialled and then production engineered to within an inch of their life. Fortunately it's a bit difficult to do this with IT. This, of course, was in the era of such things as mandating a processing chip (totally ignoring Moore's law) to give such wonders as Nimrod AEW.
true and false
Yes SA 80 is a lot more expensive than at least some other rifles. That doesn't necessarily mean its not value for money. SA 80 was purchased in 3 if not 4 different versions (excluding .22 for cadet and the recent carbine version). Basically long and short barrels, and optical or iron sights. I suspect the quoted M16 price excludes optical sights. Optical sights for all infantry was another UK military innovation, now everyone is doing it. Obviously optical sights affect the weight as well as price.
IIRC the standard annual personal weapons test for infantry soldiers is out to 400m, in other words with optical sights it's good for this (at least), my understanding is that the long barrel LSW version is good for 600. Incidently while assorted gun nuts may call SA80 an 'assault rifle' its called a rifle in UK service, presumably they know what they are talking about (why would as assault rifle need optical sights?).
Although they haven't released results, which lots of people would love to see, MoD claims their comparitatve global reliability trials of the A2 version show it better than all comparable weapons. Also unlike some comparable weapons there's been no suggestion that it can fire itself when dropped (of course this might just be the superior training of Brit soldiers).
Does all this and, no doubt, other factors, give value for money? I don't know, how do you put a price on a more compact weapon against a lighter one? How do whole life costs compare? As usual these matters aren't simple.
I'm always amused that everything can be bought of the shelf and everyone else does procuement better than UK. Good joke albeit in poor taste. The users are always deeply involved is establishing requirements and serving officers of almost all ranks are involved thoughout. I look forward to informed suggestions as to how to improve matters. Underinformed twaddle is cheap, put up or shutup is my suggestion.
F22 cost has been highlighted, more relevant is Excalibur. For the uninitiated this a smart shell fired by 155mm guns. The US target price is supposed to be $90k a pop, recent Canada and Aust purchases are about $150k and indicators are that it's the same to the US Army. Relevance, ahem, they are being fired in Basra to protect Brits, the firers are the US army, the UK taxpayer saves again. Obviously this shows the way ahead. UK should outsource all defence to the US.
The best longer term saving UK could make would be to abolish the RAF and divide its roles between army and navy.
a few points
All UK service folk get the same level of pension when they retire, this change happened some 10 years (do try and keep up) when the Gurkhas became 'UK based' after HK was surrendered. There's nothing new in assorted foreigners serving, it's being going on for ever.
The Army has used model aircraft, during the cold war and perhaps after, they were used as targets for squaddies with machine guns called 'all arms air defence', the Falklands having revealed that some driver chappies aloft tend to get put off their stroke by the little orange golf balls coming towards them, causing them to go up a bit making themselves easier targets for the AD professionals (although at the moment a lot of these are temporarily diverted to flying UAVs due to the army not having enough operators either on paper or in actuality to meet the surging demand for UAVs, which is one of the reasons for getting rid of Phoenix). And who knows you might even get lucky with an MG and win a prize.
The hand launched mini UAVs are not too different to model aircraft and have short range and short endurance, their sensor fit is also fairly limited. Bigger birds fly longer (Hermes several times the duration of Phoenix), but range from the ground station is a function of flight altitude, and flying higher means more powerful sensors in some cases (= bigger, = bigger bird, etc, etc).
For the record the Royal Artillery has operated UAVs continuously since 1961 (this makes them the longest users of tactical UAVs in the world), Phoenix was their third generation system (the name comes from it replacing the Westland gen 3 disaster 'Mr Rastus' that was cancelled by the general most concerned when Westland pissed him off once too often). It's the RAF who are the new players, as for arming UAVs the gunners are rushing ahead on this but cunningly calling it a 'loitering munition'.
But voting below the line and starting with your last choice is a wonderful experince. I find the cathartic joy of writing 150 against the name of some total arsehole one of life's pleasures.
Also in Aust there are electoral commissions responsible for operating the polling stations, not local councils. These commisisons use paid volunteers and elections are always on Saturdays. I can't see any obvious reason why elections shouldn't be over Fri-Sun to encourage voluntary voting.
It could be argued that L'stein's national policy of supporting tax evasion in other countries is an unfriendly act. Clearly this makes them fair game for assorted intelligence services.
What's really interesting is the names have the Germans got, ie non-German foreigners from the shadier spots to the East and South.
IIRC a few years ago the French MoD if not the entire govt announced they were going to develop a secure version of Linux. Licensing presumably means this is/will be in the public domain.
Or should I say forgotten ones to go with UUs and KUs. Low flying will remain an important skill, and might become more important as UAVs are used increasingly for higher altitude work and air defence systems optimise to deal with this and their descending munitions. However. it's not so much low flying per se but tactical flying at low altitude. In 1982 the Argentine AF showed that it was quite difficult for air defence systems to deal with short exposure targets presented by aircraft flying tactically in suitable terrain. Flat deserts and lots of low tech, low skill guys chucking lead in the air are a different ball game. But it's only the third world that has lots of guys!
Er, aren't there NATO agreements about spectrum? I'd have though that MoD can only relinquish spectrum that is not to allocated for military purposes under its treaty obligations. Ie UK armed forces may not use it but allied ones do, including in/over/adjacent to UK and its territories.
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