Just Who Is the 5’O Clock Blogger?

Has Dan Hardie actually infiltrated the Chief of the General Staff’s private office? Mick Smith reports that Dannatt is gagging to create another brigade or so of infantry, which is not only roughly Dan’s prescription, but would just about equal last year’s four battalion cut.

Hell, there are some fine old colours laid up in chapels that could be used, and some solid Victorian buildings going begging if Annington hasn’t got its grubby mitts on them already. Meanwhile in defence this week, Flight International reports on how many British UAVs have been lost or wrecked since 2003.

This was the subject of a spirited row between me and Phil “Cabalamat” Hunt back in tha day – well, 2004 – in which he argued that UAVs would eventually rule the skies, and I argued that, essentially, the problem with an expendable aircraft is that it will get expended, and that’s expensive. Therefore, UAVs need to drop down the cost curve very fast and a long way in order to outweigh a higher loss rate – possibly a much higher loss rate.

Hold onto your hat, then. We’ve got through 48 total losses and a further 39 damaged beyond economic repair in four years, with a special mention to the HERRICK drone jockeys for consuming 15 Desert Hawks in 9 months. That’s a lot of money in anyone’s book, and I doubt we’d have lost many more manned aircraft than we already did. By the way, here’s a data point – the Watchkeeper is coming in at about £15m a ‘bot. That compares to a notional £16m for an RAF Tornado. Now thurr’s a saving!

Update the latest Hornets go for around £25 million a throw, after 25 years of defence sector inflation.

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  1. Martin Wisse

    16 million pounds for a Tornado?

    Colour me skeptical.That’s way too low.

  2. Alex

    The figure is that given by the RAF.

    The price in the Al-Yamamah contract seems to have been about £24 million a jet, but that’s including flight training, parts, maintenance, tech training, and untold kajillions in kickbacks. So I reckon it’s a reasonable number.

  3. Dan Hardie

    No high-level sources. Rather, this is proof positive that in this case, the lowest echelons of the military are saying the same as the very highest: every infantry soldier I talk to says they are overstretched and undermanned, and that Afghanistan is going to be a long, hard war.

  4. Surreptitious Evil

    How many infantry battalion years will each Typhoon cost us? I honestly don’t have the answer (’cause I don’t know how much a battalion of mechanised infantry, ’cause we need the armour, costs per annum) but I expect it is more than a couple.

    The high-tech fighters of the jihadist and Taliban Air Forces clearly need us to buy more of them than even the air-superiority obsessed RAF think we can use.

    S-E

  5. G. Tingey

    SORRY BUT …

    Aircraft, even at 1 or even 10 £miilion a throw are a LOT CHEAPER than pilots.
    This was true in 1940 & it’s still true now.
    Expensive desk-jockeys are easier to keep them REAL pilots.

    No problem.

    How many RPV’s did you want?

  1. 1 UAV cost scissors watch « Alternate Seat of TYR

    […] from enemy action and from accidents. As they get more expensive (the RAF’s new ones actually cost more than the list price of a Tornado), this must mean that their advantages will be eroded. Another issue is the satcomms requirement; […]




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