UK's Reaper wardroid imports slashed in budget pinch
Pricey domestic buy strangely unaffected
Treasury financial difficulties would seem likely to severely restrict the size of Britain's fleet of "Reaper" aerial wardroid-assassins in the near future, according to reports.
US clearance was obtained last year for export sales of a further ten Reaper/Predator-B robot spyplane-bombers to the UK, in addition to the three already bought. British forces, operating jointly with the US Predator/Reaper fleet, are already putting the unmanned aeroplanes to good use in Afghanistan, and it is understood that operational commanders would like more of this capability.
However, the Reapers are imported from America as a so-called "urgent operational requirement (UOR)", a fast-track method of MoD kit purchasing. UORs often make use of "conflict resolution" funding supplements given on top of the ordinary defence budget for waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With the UK national budget now under significant strain following worsening economic forecasts and recent financial-sector blows to the public purse, it is generally believed that the ongoing MoD funding crisis will get worse. In particular, the Treasury will be looking to trim the "conflict resolution" expenses, which are used not only to buy urgent-priority kit like the Reaper but to pay for the Skynet satellite bandwidth the machines need in such profusion.
This is especially depressing for the forces, as the UOR scheme is typically the main way for them to obtain the equipment they actually need, quickly and from suppliers who might deliver at a fair price. Examples include the recent almost-total re-equipping of British ground troops with new body armour, nightvision equipment and a panoply of new infantry weapons. Where necessary, these have been bought from overseas rather than waiting for British industry to spend years reinventing the wheel at vast expense.
Another example, of course, is the original three Reapers, currently being used as unarmed spyplanes - though the MoD hopes to arm them soon. A batch of smaller Hermes 450 spy drones has also lately been bought from Israel. Robot surveillance platforms are in constant demand for the counterinsurgency fighting so common nowadays (and which has in fact been common since at least 1945, but is nonetheless a perennial surprise to the military establishment).
Now, however, it appears that any further UK Reapers are probably on hold. It goes without saying that the current setup of a UK domestic drone industry at MoD expense - lightly camouflaged as a buy of "Watchkeeper" drones - will continue.
Once the UK has a drone industry, of course, the British forces will probably not be allowed to buy Reapers ever again. ®
And the point is?
Struggling to work out exactly what the point of this article is - the only consistent point with previous ones seems to be 'buy American, kill the UK defence industry' but that can't possibly be correct...
I also seem to remember seeing something about the early Hermes 450 purchases being basically part of an early Watchkeeper delivery, and due to be fed back in for upgrade to the full (Hermes 450 based) Watchkeeper once production comes online.
At least that's what the supplier said.
Which makes any use of the purchase in an attempted argument against Watchkeeper a bit weak.
and a good thing too
with the MODs track record in tech projects, would you really have wanted to have a drone no. 13?
Mines the one on the peg over there, if you could just walk under that ladder for me, thanks
Economics can be weird...
...but Keynes was a lot less wrong than some of the modern breed.
Spending money on a British project, putting wages in British pockets, even if most of the money goes to buy components from overseas sources, is better than sending all the boodle into foreign pockets.
At least by paying British Boffins we can sustain the production of real beer, and maintain such vitally distinctive national traditions as morris-dancing.
Remember, we're in a war against terrorists who want to destroy our way of life.