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 …

  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. Big John Silver badge

        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. Ledswinger Silver badge

      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. Big John Silver badge

          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. Ledswinger Silver badge

        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. Ledswinger Silver badge

        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 ...

  8. Blockchain commentard

    If I had to continually fly over Wales, a one way, unscheduled hitting of the ground is a valid option.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Continually Flying over Wales

      I wonder why the downvotes. I'm Welsh by birth, and I've flown over Wales enough times to know that it's just lumps.

      Lumps and sheep.

      Lumps and sheep and angry, red faced men in clapped out Escort L's with 'RS turbo' written on the back in felt tip pen.

      I was once behind a Vauxhall Cavalier in Talbot Green (it's in Wales), whose owner had managed, with some deft marker pen wizardry, to change the 'L' into an 'i'.

      This is Wales once you get out of the cities.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Continually Flying over Wales

        Lumps and sheep.

        Or, as we used to call them "land lice".

        Cos that's what they look like from above.

    2. Glenn Booth

      If I had to continually fly over Wales, a one way, unscheduled hitting of the ground is a valid option

      Cool. Let me know when you're going, I'll pay for enough fuel to get you airborne. You can manage the 'coming down' bit by yourself.

  9. Chris Gray 1
    FAIL

    Thales

    Thales had the contract for the software for the most-recently-sortof-completed chunk of our LRT (Light Rail Transit) system (mostly-aboveground subway stuff). They are two years late in trying to integrate their stuff into the existing system, and the trains have been running too slow for those 2 years. A minor speed increase a few months ago. The city has set deadlines, and is about to "do something".

    So, flying airplanes into the ground does not surprise me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thales

      So, flying airplanes into the ground does not surprise me.

      The loss of AF447 was ultimately traceable to crappy Thales pitot tubes, so the company can also claim expertise in flying aircraft into the sea.

  10. MrKrotos

    Ooooops

    And I thought I was a bad RC pilot (crashed a few planes and helis in my time). Mine were defo a bit cheaper though lol

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Blackadder drones forth!

    fling itself into the ground from a great height

    I think I remember that scene.

  12. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    is there a pattern?

    Weather, red dragons, software, hardware or wetwear*?

    (*PEBCAK)

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: is there a pattern?

      Weather, red dragons, software, hardware or wetwear*?

      Yes.

      (And wetware too..)

  13. Christoph Silver badge

    " The MoD tried to hush those crashes up, saying nothing publicly until the news accidentally leaked at a defence trade show."

    So that's five crashes that we know about so far, plus an unknown number of other crashes that haven't yet leaked.

    Perhaps they should patch out the lithobraking option in the software.

  14. steve 124

    what are they doing?

    Are they using these to spy on Brits? I know you guys let them put a gazillion CC cameras in London (which is probably a good idea with all the undesirables there now) but why is the army flying surveillance drones over civilian areas?

    You guys put up with alot more of this kind of crap than we yanks would.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: what are they doing?

      I know you guys let them put a gazillion CC cameras in London (which is probably a good idea with all the undesirables there now)

      Hasn't helped a jot. There have been 74 murders in 2018 in London, and about 2,000 moped robberies a month. For all the CCTV, the Metropolitan Police appear to have abdicated control of the streets.

      why is the army flying surveillance drones over civilian areas?

      Because we haven't got a war to go to. But in this case, it's development and training flying, not domestic surveillance. Nobody lives in West Wales (well, a few esteemed commentards do).

      You guys put up with alot more of this kind of crap than we yanks would.

      Maybe. Looking at what your TLAs have been up to, and the abuse of both process, law and technology by your police, I think that USAians are worse off than we are. At least our domestic surveillance agency (GCHQ) is constrained by both funding and its own incompetence, and our police aren't running routinely armed and busy shooting off like they're at the OK Corral.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: what are they doing?

        "For all the CCTV, the Metropolitan Police appear to have abdicated control of the streets."

        The government has abdicated funding the police force, mental health services and social services properly.

        You can't blame Labour any more, the Cons have now been mismanaging the economy and foreign affairs for 8 years solid.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: what are they doing?

          The government has abdicated funding the police force, mental health services and social services properly. You can't blame Labour any more, the Cons have now been mismanaging the economy and foreign affairs for 8 years solid.

          Well,l if the knob-ends of the Labour party hadn't presided over the UK's share of the 2008 financial crisis, and hadn't pissed all the money up the wall on PFI and fuck-knows-what, you'd have case.

          I'd be the first to agree that the Cameron/May governments are utterly incompetent - but to imply that Labour weren't culpable for the state of public finances you'd have to be criminally stupid (and I don't believe you are).

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: what are they doing?

      "Are they using these to spy on Brits? "

      No.

      We, like the rest of the "civilised" world have domestic agencies for that. Separation of army and police, all that jazz.

      The Met has taken a leaf out of certain TLAs operations manual, and runs it's spy planes through front corporations with PO Box contact details to avoid having to discuss exactly how much of this targeted spying whatnot goes on.

      Luckily there are some seriously beardy plane spotters out there, and a light plane with a camera dome in it's belly is somewhat noticeable. The people who make the camera;s also aren't shy about tooting the horn over their products capabilities, such as ANPR.

      It's a technique that is certainly used in the US, and almost certainly by the other five eyes. Exactly how legal certain aspects of it are (stingray) are up for debate, but cops with a camera in the sky are generally accepted as being legal.

      "why is the army flying surveillance drones over civilian areas?"

      Easements, or it's crown land. I get a form letter from the MoD about my Welsh "farm" where they notify me when they are planning on sending some squaddies through, with who to contact if they fuck something up. Or "accidentally" kill a sheep, and then cook it up, as soldier have done since time immemorial.

      They also have a standing notice that they might fly planes over, which is why it's not much good for anything other than subsidy collection. Well, any locals who want to keep their sheep on it can, in exchange for a spot of mutton once a year.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: what are they doing?

        Or "accidentally" kill a sheep, and then cook it up, as soldier have done since time immemorial.

        "Sorry sarge, it got in my sights just as I was firing.." (never mind that only blanks were issued and bullets don't generally leave a nice clean slash across the throat..)

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: what are they doing?

          "Sorry sarge, it got in my sights just as I was firing.."

          The story I heard from my Grampy was that they would nominate some rocks as target practice, and then "discover" the mistake later. Or indeed the sheep was going for the throat, so I had to give it the bayonet....

          These days I gather it's part of the training of young officers to explain to a surly Welshman that he's down one sheep, and sort out the appropriate amount of reimbursement-by-form and by brown envelope. Good practice for when you're trying to win hearts and minds.

          They also do escape and evade occasionally, where the locals are supposed to not help the runners. The Welsh having the typical amount of respect that one expects for being told what to do by a rupert tend to cook up an extra fruitcake to give out.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: what are they doing?

      You guys put up with alot more of this kind of crap than we yanks would.

      Give it time, we'll catch up with them.

    4. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Are they using these to spy on Brits?

      Nothing to spy on in West Wales, mate. I lived there for 40 years.

    5. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: what are they doing?

      "Are they using these to spy on Brits?"

      They're using them to spy on *sheep*.

      1. My Alter Ego

        Re: what are they doing?

        "They're using them to spy on *sheep*."

        Stupid, sexy sheep.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what are they doing?

      How else can you count all those sheep?

  15. handleoclast Silver badge

    Location, location, location

    From the article:

    the airport, which is about 144km (90 miles) northwest of Cardiff.

    A rather strange way of describing it. Some might have said it was 33 miles southwest of Aberystwyth or maybe 5 miles east-northeast of Cardigan, or even 5 miles east-northeast of Aberteifi. Because if you've no idea where Cardigan or Aberystwyth are then you probably don't know where Cardiff is, either.

    Or the article could even have given a link to a map.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Location, location, location

      Well, Cardiff is about the only place in Wales the English speaking world has heard of (apart from 'hey, don't you guys have that place with the longest name in the world?' - we don't. That honour goes to Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu), and it's so close to the border it's barely in Wales.

      It's as though, when they decided Wales could have its own capital city in 1955, they looked at where it could go so that they wouldn't have to go too far into Wales if they ever needed to visit.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Location, location, location

        Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu is only 85 characters.

        In Thai, Bangkok is often called Krung Thep Maka Nakhon, or just Krung Thep. However, the full name is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.”

        Which is 169 characters....

        1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Location, location, location

          Great commentarderie Dodgy Geezer. What does all that mean? PP

        2. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
          Pint

          Bangkok full name @ DG

          OK Dodge Geezer. There was a lul so I found this.

          Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

          The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (unlike Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.

          Enquiring minds etc. PP My pleasure. I'm here all week, Oh wait. ICON.

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: Bangkok full name @ DG

            That's awesome, I think all city names should include a diss of another city. So something like Plymouth the impregnable port (unlike Cadiz).

  16. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

    I have a guess!

    "A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman declined to comment on what the Watchkeeper was doing when it crashed."

    I'm going to say "Flying". Until it wasn't, of course.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: I have a guess! - I'm going to say "Flying". Until it wasn't, of course.

      I want to know if the AI was thinking "Oh shit o shit o shit I'm going to die!".

      1. Woza
        Joke

        Re: I have a guess! - I'm going to say "Flying". Until it wasn't, of course.

        Or, given what happened to other drones, it might have been thinking "Oh no, not again."

        (Apologies to Douglas Adams)

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: I have a guess! - I'm going to say "Flying". Until it wasn't, of course.

          Or another one from Douglas Adams:

          There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

          Apparently this drone did not miss.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: I have a guess! - I'm going to say "Flying". Until it wasn't, of course.

            Apparently this drone did not miss

            Quick - sell the secrets to the Yanks! Their drones/pilots/tanks regularly miss - unless there's a British flag on the APC..

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Japanese software?

    maybe it's a plan? kind of worked in the Pacific a while ago...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RAF

    ARMY, flying planes.

    No there's ya problem.

    1. tony trolle
      Big Brother

      Re: RAF

      think its on El Reg somewhere.

      The RAF only let officers fly drones, were as the Army lets sergeants fly drones. Apart from this Watchkeeper joke the Army crashes less.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: RAF

        Army lets sergeants fly drones

        Sergants are officers too - the main difference is that they work for a living..

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: RAF

          "Sergants are officers too - the main difference is that they work for a living"

          The son of a friend is a mid rank commissioned officer in the AAF. They work for a living. As has been the case since the buying of commissions stopped. In the 19th century.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RAF

      You forget the Army Air Corps.

  19. eldakka Silver badge
    Coat

    > One of those crashed after its crew disabled anti-crash systems,

    Since when has the MoD contracted out their drones to Uber?

  20. Scott Marshall

    Enquiring minds wish to know ...

    ... whether it’s more “Brexit” or “Breaks it”?

    Another chapter from “Thales of the Unexpected” perhaps?

  21. Not an Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Watchkeeper II

    All they need to do is mount a fixed warhead on the Watchkeeper, add an impact fuse and then they have had 5 successful test deployments.

  22. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Simple Patch required(that's £1000000 thanks)

    Software modification required

    if(DistanceToGround < 10 and not Landing ){

    Direction = up;

    }

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple Patch required(that's £1000000 thanks)

      I think they already have that code in their somewhere... MOD has so far managed to keep it quiet that Watchkeeper likes to take off without warning

  23. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Environmental impact report in 3..2..1...

    " one crew used foam to clean up the resulting fuel spill. "

    Aviation firefighting foam is quite toxic - a number of authorities around the world have ordered that it cease being used in training exercises due to problems with the runoff.

    (not to mention it being very good at disguising people laying on the ground such that they end up being run over by the firefighting trucks, as happened at SFO)

  24. Yugguy

    Finally!

    A use for Wales.

  25. Nocroman

    Why not to have bean counters in charge

    Drone program: Way over budget, dumb decisions (turning off anti crash programs) while flying during thunderstorms. Hiring poor quality engineers to keep the budget down instead of quality engineers, Lack of communication, and too many decision makers where only one is needed and that person should be an engineer. NOT a politician. NOT a bean counter! And NOT a CEO or President or Vice president who doesn't know squat about engineering or design. Step away from the bully on attitude which is the British way of mucking through things.

  26. Lexeus

    What's all the fuss about, check the specs on Wikipedia, it's all as desgined....

    Typical Endurance: 17 hours

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Minimum Of Five

    At least five. If they hid the two, they may be hiding others.

    They are approaching a 10% crash rate.

  28. Paul 129
    Angel

    "The aircraft has been secured"

    They've chained whats left to the ground, just to be sure, it doesn't get any more clever ideas.

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