back to article ... Aaaand that's a fifth Brit Army Watchkeeper drone to crash in Wales

A British Army Watchkeeper drone has crashed near Aberporth, taking the number of crashes involving the unmanned aircraft to five. Local reports indicated that the unmanned surveillance aeroplane, which is controlled remotely from the ground, crashed in a lane near West Wales Airport at 5pm yesterday. The Cambrian News …

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  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Perhaps we need our own global positioning system so we don't have to rely on foreigners.

    Where's the stirrer icon?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      or just flatten Wales?

      so there's nothing to bump into. It might be quicker.

      1. Chozo

        Re: or just flatten Wales?

        Should change the name from Watchkeeper to Wyvern, then the dragons will leave them alone.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: or just flatten Wales? so there's nothing to bump into. It might be quicker.

        It'll certainly be cheaper.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: or just flatten Wales?

        > "...so there's nothing to bump into."

        You're forgetting the z-axis...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: or just flatten Wales?

        I was in the Herefordshire countryside a few weeks ago, and an RAF jet flew low and fast over the farm where I was at the time. I'm told this is a regular occurence.

  2. Bogle

    Savings

    So, does it save money on the project if we keep on crashing them? If that's the case we could have a special show, say around Guy Fawkes, and finally sew up the hole our trouser's pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Savings

      So, does it save money on the project if we keep on crashing them?

      I very much doubt that. The contract will probably have either a "take or pay" structure that means the payments to Thales and their fellow bunglers are guaranteed regardless of losses (because lord forbid they should lose out if a few were shot down). Or they'll have a "loss of profit" clause if the volume of work declines from that expected, in which case we save a tiny bit, but they make as much money overall.

      MoD Procurement is a name associated with deep and abiding incompetence, and with a long and distinguished history of failure. Their amateurish buyers will be no match for the well structured, professional, experienced and heavily incentivised teams of lawyers and technical sales people doing the selling.

      The way to "sew up the pocket" would be to cast MoD Abbey Wood into some other dimension of time and space.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Savings

        Alas I'm fairly sure we've already paid for them all and the manufacturer is now crashing ones we've brought. I'm not sure how big the attrition reserve is but it must be running out.

      2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

        Re: Savings

        I very much doubt that. The contract will probably have either a "take or pay" structure that means the payments to Thales and their fellow bunglers are guaranteed regardless of losses

        I mis-read that as "Burglars". Possibly Freudian.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Savings

          As a Yank I don't see what you Brits are complaining about. Any US programme of this type would easily cost 10-50 times as much.

          And let's look at the results. For that billion swords (over twelve years), roughly 10% of the drones have suffered unscheduled dis-assembly and are lost. The rest are presumably still flying around. Okay, their actual combat experience is quite limited, but they do appear to be simple surveillance drones and are basically meant to surveil locally, methinks. ;-/

          If you are a government setting up the kernel of a huge future fleet of Eyes in the Sky, using a new tech, you will expect teething issues and new models that fix problems encountered in early rounds. A new tech with a ten percent attrition rate over twelve years is not that ugly, and is in fact barely adequate for acquiring decent failure data!

          I'd have guessed at a considerably higher failure rate myself...

          1. darklord

            Re: Savings

            Knowing a bit about this stuff.

            The chances are the 5 lost where all experimental platforms and are sacrificial test beds. (but still funded by MOD)

            The other 49 are probably mothballed somewhere or not even delivered yet.

            Anyway I hope thats what is happening else its a cock up. and Thales will have a lot to explain to parliament.

          2. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: Savings

            "using a new tech"

            Remote controlled aircraft date back to the 19th century (yes, seriously), and have been in routine military use since at least WW2. Even this specific model dates back to 1998. It's a regular small plane with long-established design and parts. Whatever clever parts may exist in the electronics (it seems to be utterly standard radar and visible/infra-red optics, but being military they're keeping the full details quiet), the ability to stay in the air should be utterly trivial - this is not some groundbreaking design pushing the limits of new tech, it's about as bog standard and well established as it's possible for an aircraft to get.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Savings

              "this is not some groundbreaking design"

              It seems to have broken the ground several times.

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Savings

            huge future fleet of Eyes in the Sky

            <Song>

            I am the eye in the sky, looking at you

            I can read your mind

            I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools

            I can cheat you blind

            </Song>

            Somehow, seems appropriate.

            [Wanders off searching for that Cask of Amontillado at the Fall of the House of Usher]

            1. Killing Time

              Re: Savings

              Alan Parsons was lamenting the invasion of privacy, I think Muse convey the brutal reality better....

              Killed by drones

              My mother, my father

              My sister and my brother

              My son and my daughter

              Killed by drones

              Our lives between your fingers and thumb

              Can you feel anything at all?

              Are you dead inside?

              Now you can kill from the safety of your home with drones

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Savings

        cast MoD Abbey Wood into some other dimension of time and space

        Too late - it's already well established in it's own unreality zone.

        Sadly, it also intersects with our reality on a regular basis - mostly to hoover up some more cash.

  3. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Thales

    To be scrupulously fair to the Army, it was yet again an aircraft being operated by the manufacturer, Thales. So to date it's Thales 3 - Royal Artillery 2.

    I also feel this was a missed opportunity to say the fleet has now been decimated...

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Thales

      No, I think 5 out of 54 is closer to undecimated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thales

        But what about the five unaccounted ones?

      2. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Thales

        'No, I think 5 out of 54 is closer to undecimated.'

        It's closer to 1/10th than anything else would be...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thales

          No lets do this right.

          54 - 5 = 49

          49 /100 = 49%

          So they have lost 49% which is not good when you think about it.

          1. PaulW81

            Re: Thales

            Please go redo basic maths!

            54 - 5 = 49

            5/54 = 9.259% Lost

            49/54 = 90.741% Operational

            So they have lost just over 9% not 49%, 49% of 54 is 26 approximately not 5!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Thales

              @PaulW81

              Could you go redo basic sarcasm/silliness?

              Do you really think there are people that stupid in the world or especially on the register forums?

              Try this one if low brow sarcasm isn't your thing.

              What do you get when you cross a mosquito with a mountain climber?

              Nothing. You can't cross a vector and a scalar.

              1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                Re: Thales

                'Do you really think there are people that stupid in the world or especially on the register forums?'

                In the world? Yes definitely.

          2. philebbeer

            Re: Thales

            I lost you after "...lets do this right"

          3. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: Thales

            54 - 5 = 49

            49 /100 = 49%

            With math like that, maybe they should hire you to fix it - you'd make a great engineer

            Or maybe not.

      3. Salim Suleman

        Re: Thales

        The historical use of decimate was to kill 1 in 10... So N it far off

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Thales

          decimate was to kill 1 in 10

          And we all know a song about that:

          "I am the one in 10, a number on-a-leee"

    2. deive
      Trollface

      Re: Thales

      But but but, conservatives tell us that private companies are amazing.... so it couldn't be Thales' fault, could it?

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Thales

        Don't worry I'm sure* Thales will replace the ones they crashed free of charge.

        * "sure they won't"

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Thales

          Thales will replace the ones they crashed free of charge.

          * "sure they won't"

          Of course they will. Just as soon as the Government pays out the termination fee for the dead ones - a sum that just happens to match the cost of delivering a new one..

          I could do this stuff for a living - or at least I could if I got rid of my morals and ethics..

          (And who wouldn't want to get rid of Ethics - apart from Bluewater of course)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thales

        But but but, conservatives tell us that private companies are amazing.... so it couldn't be Thales' fault, could it?

        I don't know. You could ask the Labour government of Tony Blair that placed this contract with Thales in 2005, maybe?

      3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Thales...so it couldn't be Thales' fault, could it?

        The answer is simple. What are Thales fairly good at? Trains. Cut the wings off, fit two bogies, the new Watchkeeper Railway Drone. No more unexpected descents into terrain. No need for some foreign global positioning system. No need, in fact, for abroad at all. Just what Mrs. May secretly wants.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Thales...so it couldn't be Thales' fault, could it?

          The answer is simple. What are Thales fairly good at? Trains. Cut the wings off, fit two bogies, the new Watchkeeper Railway Drone.

          Might work. But, it also would need the upgrade to have a built in "jump off the tracks mode".

        2. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: Thales...so it couldn't be Thales' fault, could it?

          "the new Watchkeeper Railway Drone. No more unexpected descents into terrain"

          I can't help feeling you're massively overestimating someone's competence.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    'Main' base?

    Surely, more like their only base? And if they're not operational they're losing a lot in training. (Training for what?)

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: 'Main' base?

      West Wales is the manufacturers centre of operations, and currently where most of the flying takes place as the Army don't feel it's ready for service use and Thales are trying to get to a position where they do. So it's more like development flying rather than training.

      The Army's main base for it is Boscombe Down as it's conveniently near Salisbury Plain, although they did a lot of training in Ascension Island on the grounds if something went wrong you'd be really unlucky to hit anything.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: 'Main' base?

        "the Army don't feel it's ready for service use"

        Based on this, I agree.

        "and Thales are trying to get to a position where they do."

        That position appears to be in a heap of wreckage and on fire.

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: 'Main' base?

        "although they did a lot of training in Ascension Island "

        Bad. The last thing we need is drones being tested near albatrosses. Apart from the fact that albatrosses are beautiful and harmless, they have extended airborne duration, rarely crash, and new ones are generated free of charge to the taxpayer. Someone might draw comparisons.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: 'Main' base?

        near Salisbury Plain, although they did a lot of training in Ascension Island on the grounds if something went wrong you'd be really unlucky to hit anything

        Same applies to Salisbury Plain - apart from a bunch of old rocks that someone carelessly left in a field..

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thales is spelt wrong

    It's THERANOS.

    Claims to work but doesn't. Fixed that for you.

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Signage

    > the local council was considering whether to approve a "major facelift" at the airport, which is about 144km (90 miles) northwest of Cardiff.

    > It has been the main base for Watchkeeper drones for a number of years,

    I would suggest that a part of that facelift would be the words

    LAND HERE

    painted in large friendly letters on the tarmac.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Signage

      "I would suggest that a part of that facelift would be the words

      LAND HERE

      painted in large friendly letters on the tarmac."

      To tell the drone where the ground is...

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Signage

      I would suggest that a part of that facelift would be the words

      LAND HERE

      painted in large friendly letters on the tarmac.

      In English *and* Welsh. Assuming that they don't use Google Translate to do it - in which case the Welsh version would probably end up meaning "This is land"..

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Signage

        Given the trackrecord "This is land" might be just as helpful.

  7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Thinking outside the box here...

    Suppose they were to operate them in an actual war zone (as opposed to Wales) and filled them with some sort of explosive - then when they crash into the landscape it would be a good thing.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Thinking outside the box here...

      You say that, 2 of the 5 have crashed on their own airfield so it might be a bit counter productive!

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Thinking outside the box here...

      operate them in an actual war zone (as opposed to Wales)

      What - Cardiff?

      At least, parts of it look like it's already been hit by large amounts of ordanance..

    3. John 98

      jw@resthaven.org.uk

      particularly if they kill some poor kid whom we can posthumously pronounce a terrorist ...

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