* Posts by SkippyBing

1529 posts • joined 21 May 2008

Iran the numbers – and Persian internet is the cheapest in the world

SkippyBing
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Cost of Living

Surely it needs to be normalised against cost of living? Or a Big Mac. Otherwise I might move to Iran for the cheap, cheap, broadband only to find it's equivalent to a week's wages. Or in the case of Burkina Faso, a years.

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New UK aircraft carrier to be commissioned on Pearl Harbor anniversary

SkippyBing
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Re: Just a thought

'The drones are controlled by AI that allows them to detect and overcome counter offensive activities.'

Obviously that's the easy bit...

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SkippyBing
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'Also, and I right in thinking that we currently own three F-35s, of which one does airshows and two are still in the US while desperate attempts go on to make them usable?'

No. We own 13, with a 14th due soon. Some of which are engaged in testing and some of which are with 17 Sqn and involved in Operational Test and Evaluation, i.e. figuring out how to best use the new capabilities the aircraft brings, and around Q3 next year taking off and landing on a QE Class carrier.

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SkippyBing
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Re: About those aircraft

'That's been my thought about our own "supercarriers". Wouldn't it be better to have a whole bunch of nimble "pocket carriers"'

Not really, although initially it looks like a good idea.

Firstly the number of escorts and support ships increases in line with the number of carriers. i.e. you need as many escorts for a pocket carrier as you do a super carrier. Unless you operate them as part of the same task group, in which case why bother?

Secondly a smaller carrier can't generate as many sorties per day. The size of the QE Class was based on a requirement to generate X sorties a day for Y days, which gave a requirement of ~36 F-35s. It's worth noting the old Invincible class couldn't easily generate a 24 hour combat air patrol of 2 aircraft.

Thirdly manning. There are a number of posts that are required on a carrier no matter how small it is, i.e. ATC, Flight Ops etc. If you have 4 small carriers rather than 2 big ones you have 4 times as many of those posts to fill for no increase in capability. These aren't the sort of posts anyone can fill either, you need trained specialists who are probably already thinking about making the jump to a better paying job outside the forces. Similarly, although you need a certain scale of engineers to maintain the aircraft it doesn't increase linearly with size so a fleet of small carriers also increases the pressure on another area where manning is 'tight'.

Finally although you could be in more places at once, you wouldn't have the same presence, and as Admiral Fisher once said, 'moderation in war is imbecility'. Although I think modern doctrine refers to concentration of effort.

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SkippyBing
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Re: About those aircraft

'Woohoo. I'm so delighted that the £12billion+ programme has got us a pair of carriers so reliable that they have 50% availability.'

Also, where are you getting £12 Billion from? I can only find £6.5 Billion for both carriers, not each carrier.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Alternative commissioning date proposal

'The fact that the Swordfish were old was an advantage. the antiaircraft fire control radar could not track planes go as slow as the swordfish making them very hard to Hit.'

Not strictly true. At this stage of the war AA guns were generally optically trained, it wasn't until the middle of the war that radar was used to guide the larger AA guns. The optical systems had a predictor function that allowed you to aim off for the target aircraft's speed, this may have helped at Taranto where shore batteries were firing at aircraft on a crossing course and couldn't dial in a speed as low as the Swordfish were flying. However when attacking the Bismarck, and the actual ships at Taranto, the Swordfish would have been flying directly at the AA guns making the firing solution much simpler. i.e. if the tracer is falling in front of the target you're firing short, if it's going behind it you're firing long.

In the case of the Bismarck I believe the sea state wasn't helping the German gunner's aim, in both cases an aircraft covered in canvas tends to let cannon shells pass through rather than exploding on contact which helps. But mainly the 'Fish was tough as old boots.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Maybe carriers need to be honestly named.. truth in advertising as such?

'It has been suggested that the USS Enterprise be renamed the USS Corporate Welfare'

Be a bit pointless though, she was decommissioned last year.

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SkippyBing
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Re: About those aircraft

'Bit harder when it's rolling around in a force 10, of course, but has QE been out on sea trials in the south Atlantic yet?'

No, first of class flying trials are next year, during which they'll try and find increasingly bad weather to operate in. And then use the stabilisers to make it roll more if needed.

I mean they do this for every class of ship, it's entirely predictable. Assuming you can remember the last time the RN received the first of a new class...

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SkippyBing
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Re: About those aircraft

'Woohoo. I'm so delighted that the £12billion+ programme has got us a pair of carriers so reliable that they have 50% availability.'

Most warships run on a 33% availability, one in refit, one in work-up, and one deployed* so that's a big improvement. It's also supposed to be the minimum availability, at times both could be deployable.

*I suspect this is true for most major military units not just ships.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Alternative commissioning date proposal

That's a Saturday though, you'd have to pay the dockies time and a half.

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SkippyBing
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Re: err... no

I think the Japanese failure to target the fuel depot was also considered a major mistake along with the carriers not being there. If that had been hit the USN's radius of action in the Pacific would have been significantly reduced for a good six months.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Pearl Harbour

But then the Japanese raid was notably launched FROM aircraft carriers. Which I suspect was the significance the RN are going for.

Plus if they did the commissioning on the Taranto anniversary you'd miss the excuse for a second party.

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Car tax evasion has soared since paper discs scrapped

SkippyBing
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Re: would it work?

'So that they could get even more money buy making the tax non transferable on the sale of the vehicle'

This massively gets on my tits. It's a computerised system now, why can we only buy tax valid from the start of a calendar month, why not any day? I brought a motorbike just after Christmas so my choices were ride illegally* for 4 days or pay for 27 days tax I wasn't going to use.

*And uninsured.

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Q: Why are you running in the office? A: This is my password for El Reg

SkippyBing
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Re: Body placement

Frankly if I don't put my phone in the same pocket every time I may well spend hours looking for it.

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TalkTalk sees red after chucking £75m on restructuring bonfire

SkippyBing
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Re: TalkTalk is actually quite good

It really isn't. I once spent several hours on the phone going through their fault finding check list to discover that my router wasn't working and needed replacing. Which I'd told them at the start of the call with a break down of the diagnostics I'd tried to reach that conclusion.

Then there was the special three month subscription to some movie service that I didn't know about and never used, but was billed for after the three month intro and which they refused to refund despite admitting I'd never used it.

And then they tried to charge me an early departure penalty after they'd leaked my, and several thousand other people's, details onto the internet.

Providing an internet service isn't hard, after all Open Reach do most of the work, it's providing a vaguely tolerable customer experience that Talk Talk failed at.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Eh?

You'll also note, that 'Provide a half decent service' doesn't appear anywhere in that list. Which tells you all you need to know about that bunch of shysters.

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Apple succeeds in failing wearables

SkippyBing
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'I have to now really think who does NOT own an Apple Watch out of the people i know.'

I fortunately have almost exactly the opposite problem.

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'Sticky runway' closes Canadian airport

SkippyBing
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"The passengers report they were kept on board of the aircraft until arrival of the replacement aircraft because the airport does not have stairs to accomodate the A380"

I suspect in reality the crew made up something to tell the passengers to keep them on the aircraft rather than have them wondering around the airport! I believe it isn't really equipped to deal with an A380's worth of people at short notice.

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SkippyBing
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For more on the rather disturbing front falling off incident

http://avherald.com/h?article=4af15205&opt=0

Caution, site contains content of an aerosexual nature.

As an aside there appears to be some argument as to whether it was an un-contained engine failure as that normally refers to an incident where bits of the engine exit the housing, but in this case everything seems to have remained in the housing. Just not necessarily on the aircraft.

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Metal 3D printing at 100 times the speed and a twentieth of the cost

SkippyBing
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Re: Problems to overcome

'Depends on where the cart is located. Loose items in a passenger cabin during turbulence (or worse) are not good.

Embraer almost lost a KC-390 prototype this year due to stuff getting loose in the cargo bay!

https://theaviationist.com/2017/11/09/first-prototype-of-brazilian-kc-390-military-cargo-aircraft-almost-crashed-during-stall-tests-last-month/

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UK Home Sec thinks a Minority Report-style AI will prevent people posting bad things

SkippyBing
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Re: Count me unimpressed

'If the Amazon recommendations are one of the poster boys for behavioural analysis, then I can only conclude that our "best brains" are the same sort of very-well-qualified-yet-supremely-stupid people who (in the UK) normally go into government or run the Civil Service.'

So the sort of people who, in the UK, are advising Amber Rudd? I think we've found the problem...

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Two drones, two crashes in two months: MoD still won't say why

SkippyBing
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Re: Scaremongering @SkippyBing

I did say one of! Bar Nimrod MRA4 the other programmes have at least got a usable asset at the end of the day, even if that day wasn't the one originally scoped. Also you shouldn't believe everything you read in the press, for example Typhoon was originally planned as a Jaguar replacement so air to ground was always part of the plan, it was just less of a priority than air to air after the end of the Cold War.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Scaremongering

The move from Boscombe was at least in part due to the faff mixing with all the other traffic there and the difficulty getting good enough weather to do what they wanted. There's not much chance of causing too much damage crashing on Salisbury Plain as most of its an active range.

To be clear my personal opinion is that it's one of the most appallingly run programmes of recent times. They've spent 1/3 of an aircraft carrier for literally no capability. The short deployment to Afghanistan was a PR effort that is hard to justify in retrospect.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Scaremongering

However it is due to be operated, and indeed has in the past operated, from Boscombe Down over Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA). That's a bit more densely populated, in fact they have to activate an extra segment of restricted airspace to allow Watchkeeper to climb high enough over Boscombe Down that when it comes to cross the A303 it's high enough that it can glide over it in the event of an engine failure. In fact all its operations over SPTA are designed so that it can recover to a safe position in the event of an emergency. I mean safe for people, I think the drone could end up in an impact area for artillery training...

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SkippyBing
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Re: FTFY

'an airframe that contains an engine etc'

The engine is hotter than the air, the wings and fuselage not so much. The problem with icing is that it changes the shape of the aerofoil adversely affecting its lift characteristics. At the speeds the Watchkeeper is going I wouldn't think friction would give much of a heating effect, the main problem is usually an airframe/wings that are cooled below freezing which then flies through a cloud or rain leading to a rapid build up of fairly solid ice.

I don't know off the top of my head what sort of anti-icing system the Watchkeeper has, some aircraft heat the wings and other vulnerable area, either with engine bleed air if it's got a gas turbine, or heating mats. Others use pneumatic boots which have to wait for ice to start forming and then expand to break it off.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Accident Investigation

Yes they do and yes it is. In fact it's beyond likely that they'll be investigated, although the lack of physical evidence makes it hard to come to solid conclusions.

The average DAIB accident report seems to take about 18 months to 2 years to be completed.

I'm guessing the bit of the MoD Gaz contacted simply didn't know so fell back on a standard response, bearing in mind you can't just ring up any old bit of the MoD for a response and the bits you can ring up may just give you their understanding of the situation rather than doing any investigating for you.

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SkippyBing
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Accident Investigation

'Civil aviation has long grasped this essential point and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is proactive with publishing interim reports into civil aircraft crashes and malfunctions. In contrast, the Military Aviation Authority says very little on matters of public interest.'

Strictly the MAA has no knowledge of the investigation until the final report is published by the Defence Accident Investigation Branch (Air) (DAIB(Air)), the same is true for the CAA and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). The investigators are independent from the regulators to ensure that where regulation, it's enforcement, or associated assurance activity, are found to be at fault there's no temptation to cover it up.

The DAIB(Air) final reports are made publicly available, with minimal redacting, they don't often do interim reports though, although if they find something that needs to be acted on immediately they will inform the appropriate chain of command.

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SkippyBing
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Re: "... sympathy for trainees cocking up a landing, ..."

'Does the landing phase involve any element of 'stick and rudder' work or is it also largely automated?'

It is completely automated, there's literally no way to directly control the flight surfaces. It has even on a few occasions surprised people by taking the long way to make a turn, e.g. to change from a Northerly to a Westerly heading it turned through East and South first.

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Our oldest mammalian ancestor named after British pub landlord

SkippyBing
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Re: Dorset

It's definitely not South East, for starters I can afford to live there.

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Submarine builder admits dismembering journalist's body

SkippyBing
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Re: Not very clever

'Murder at sea when there was only the perp and the victim on board is probably the easiest of serious crimes to cover up.'

Remind me not to take a sea voyage with you...

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Car trouble: Keyless and lockless is no match for brainless

SkippyBing
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Re: Headlight UI

Why were you turning right by Jupiter, everyone knows you take a left turn at Albuquerque.

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DJI Aeroscope won't stop drone-diddlers flying round airports

SkippyBing
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Re: 7.5nm is 13.9km...

It was very cold okay.

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SkippyBing
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That did seem a daft analogy to me as well, I think the point he's trying to make is that in the case of the generally law abiding citizen who's not intentionally infringing Heathrow's* airspace that's not something they'll be doing. Designing something to stop deliberate malfeasance is another matter entirely, and probably impossible, but that doesn't mean there isn't benefit to being able to stop someone who's just made an honest mistake.

*Other airports are available. And in the case of Terminal 4 preferable.

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Even more warship cuts floated for the Royal Navy

SkippyBing
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Re: But...

'Soviet-style electoral (ROFL) process, maybe ?'

Depends, did international observers declare Soviet elections free and fair?

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SkippyBing
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Re: You do realise that this "colony" overwhelmingly voted in favour of remaining British?

'What about the people of Diego Garcia who wanted to stay in the homes they'd had for generations ? '

I've always thought that was shameful, but your argument seems to be that because we've done the wrong thing on one occasion, we shouldn't do the right thing on another. Which is the opposite of what I'd like to see happen.

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SkippyBing
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Re: ah the costs of buying abroad

'Wow, and the MoD is funded by who, sailors selling Coke on the street, as one US joke went years ago.'

You appear to have missed my point, the MoD wants to get the best bang for its buck, literally in a lot of cases, however its budget is limited. If the Government forces the MoD's hand over a purchase leading to a more expensive UK sourced option, why should the MoD have its budget plans ruined to support other departments priorities? If it cuts the benefits budget employing UK workers to produce over-priced aircraft then surely the Dept of Work and Pensions should cross-subsidise the MoD a proportion of their saving.

Otherwise MoD is penalised for being forced to make decisions that benefit another department.

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SkippyBing
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Re: But...

'I think the whole world should have sided with the Argentinians on this one'

What by giving territory it didn't have a claim to*, to an aggressor country against the wishes of the population of that territory? That couldn't possibly send the wrong message...

*The Falklands have never been under Argentine jurisdiction, being on the same continental shelf isn't really much of a claim.

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SkippyBing
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Re: ah the costs of buying abroad

It's ~£1 Billion less buying direct from the US, you could literally give each AugustaWestlands employee in Yeovil £1 Million and tell them never to turn up for work again and still be better off.

However, if you insist on paying more for UK based defence products, should that be entirely funded by the MoD? Would it not make more sense for the difference in cost to be funded by central government, otherwise you're preventing the MoD running its budget efficiently, in order to satisfy other departments priorities.

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SkippyBing
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Re: ah the costs of buying abroad

Well apart from a handful of tankers no UK yard bid on, all the RN's ships are built in the UK. As for airframes, it's still going to be cheaper buying Apache's from Boeing than Westlands even with the exchange rate change.

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SkippyBing
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Re: But...

'Except those times they didn't, like the Falklands'

Apart from intelligence, missiles, back-filling our NATO commitments, that sort of thing you mean?

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SkippyBing
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It's almost as if tracking the Taliban down in Afghanistan might be mainly one of the other services jobs... Although the Royal Marines helped out a lot in that instance. And the Fleet Air Arm. But that was rather in addition to their nominal role.

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The UK's super duper 1,000mph car is being tested in Cornwall

SkippyBing
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Re: Love them

'Car, noun - a self-propelled road vehicle designed to carry passengers.'

So the thing I've got with two wheels that can carry passengers and is self-propelled, that's a car right?

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SkippyBing
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Re: Built buy??

'A lot of the fabrication has been done by the UK military Engineer regiments.'

Doesn't mean they didn't volunteer to build it, or are you saying they were paid to do it?

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SkippyBing
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Re: Love them

'What is the current record for a wheel-driven vehicle?'

If only there was some way of searching a massive cross-section of the world's knowledge base to find out. I think the first person to come up with a way of doing that could make a fortune.

In the meantime I'd guess at about 439MPH.

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MoD: We've got a handle on contract costs. Audit Office: About that...

SkippyBing
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Re: The last remaining boy's club

Oddly, I think at the time Nimrod 2000* was chosen the competing upgraded Orions actually had more UK avionics, but as a headline it didn't look as good. On such things are procurement decisions made. A lot of that tech has since gone into the P-8 so it's got more UK content than you'd perhaps have thought.

I'd agree that putting the MRA4 avionics in something like an A320 would have been a much better idea than re-cycling Nimrods, however I suspect the Treasury's mindset was that it must be cheaper reusing something you've already got. A similar issue hit the USMC when they upgraded their AV-8Bs they eventually realised it was cheaper buying complete new fuselages rather than stripping everything out and putting new stuff in.

*Don't laugh, someone seriously thought it would be entering service around then.

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SkippyBing
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The MoD's inability to pay the going rate for technical staff is getting beyond a joke, they are, unfortunately, bound by Civil Service pay scales so unless they make half of Abbeywood the same band as the Cabinet Office secretary it's hard to know what they can do. Hence the use of contractors who they can pay half the going rate to, although that tends to end up with them just rehiring people who were fed up being permanent staff when the contractors were getting paid more for knowing less...

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SkippyBing
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Re: The last remaining boy's club

'Embraer Tucano, the Boeing AH64 Apache'

The Tucano as used in UK service is built by Shorts, it has ~50% commonality with the original version and hence ended up being more expensive. Ditto the current Apache fleet built in Yeovil, which has different engines, leading to a different centre of gravity, leading to a different software build, from the Boeing version. I'm not sure what the cost delta was for that version, but it was going to be £1B more expensive to buy the next model from the Somerset garage door manufacturer than straight from the US production line.

Chinook, apart from an attempt to really f**k it up by specifying a short run of a really bespoke version has by contrast been a successful programme. Ditto C-17 where frankly if we'd gone to buy an equivalent from a domestic manufacturer it probably still wouldn't be in service. Our E-3s have bespoke modifications to the baseline aircraft (engines, AAR equipment), but were only purchased after pissing away an obscene amount of money on trying to make the Nimrod an AWACS platform, and then having to soldier on with Shackletons equipped with a radar from WW2 for longer than sanity would suggest was sensible. Similarly, before buying the P-8 we spent a small fortune trying to buy British by upgrading the last Comets* off the production line.

It's almost as if the MoD are learning the lesson that if you're not going to want a few hundred of something, it may just be better buying off the shelf...

*Okay strictly not Comets, but they were I believe the last Comet derived airframes built.

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SkippyBing
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Re: Well, you could

'take much of the technical detail out of the contract and leave it at the desired outcomes...'

As I understand it, in the initial scoping you're pretty much limited to saying, 'I want to launch big fireworks from underwater'. Saying you want to do it from a submarine is seen as 'solutionising'* i.e. going straight to the solution you first thought of rather than seeing if there aren't better ways of delivering thermonuclear energy direct to the enemy of your choice from under the sea.

However once you've gone through the process of determining the optimum methodology, you do have to give the vendors some specifics to work with, i.e. we need these sonars and radios. Otherwise you end up with something that only meets the very broad sweep of your intentions, and doesn't fit in your dockyard.

*It's a real word in the MoD

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SkippyBing
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Re: Financial risks on Trident successor – a Conspiracy of Concealment

' the focus of attention turns to the ability of the Ministry of Defence to deliver this project without incurring the usual delays and cost overruns'

I was under the impression that responsibility for the Trident successor programme was actually the Treasury's, at the insistence of George Osborne, or have they stepped back from that plan?

Although why using an organisation with even less experience of purchasing from a defence contractor than the MOD was considered a good idea does escape me somewhat.

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Yes, British F-35 engines must be sent to Turkey for overhaul

SkippyBing
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'Not according to this NASA:

https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/bernnew.html'

Fifth paragraph of the link where they talk about a 'a net turning of the gas flow' that's the bit I'm talking about.

Which they then expand on here

https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/right2.html

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