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The Other Chris
October 3, 2015 8:37 am

A surprisingly large number of personnel.

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
October 3, 2015 9:16 am

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/464599/20150923-FOI-07040-USPERSONNEL-REDACT.pdf

Seven US personnel at RAF Waddington–for undisclosed purposes. Could be Repaer and/or RC-135.

Barborossa
Barborossa
October 3, 2015 10:33 am

I’m not sure that It’s that large a number of people, given that we have 10? Reaper. If you take a reaper ‘flight crew’ as two, That probably allows for two maybe three aeroplanes to be airborne at any one time… Plus a couple on standby.

Not sure if the USAF still handle MX- but the NCO’s and OR’s numbers would be about right for Ops staff, comms, crewing etc (based on my airline having 4 watches of 5 ops, 1 Flight Planner, 4 crewing and a traffic services bod on shift 24/7- for 28ish a/c)

The Other Chris
October 3, 2015 12:24 pm

Just thinking in context of Waddington. Suppose when whatever SCAVANGER becomes goes ahead proper we’ll see training expanded beyond Watchkeeper.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 3, 2015 12:37 pm

TOC, any bets on that one:
“when whatever SCAVANGER becomes goes ahead”?

Hohum
Hohum
October 3, 2015 12:51 pm

My guess,

Scavenger will be Reaper, with minimal change, kept in service. Possibly with some improvements to deployability, munitions and integration with the wider UK C4ISR network/community.

JamesF
October 3, 2015 1:24 pm

Do you think there will be growing dmeand for a surivivable platform for use in non-permissive environments under SCAVENGER? Maybe the Anglo-French demonstrator will develop into a joint strike/ISTAR platform? Between the two countires they could probably manage a 60-100 production run which would make it viable. Replace reaper and some Typhoon.

Hohum
Hohum
October 3, 2015 1:32 pm

JamesF.

Yes. My own view is that the RAF will, at least, very seriously consider rolling the Reaper replacement into a UCAS element of FCAS to produce a survivable ISR/Strike platform.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 3, 2015 2:54 pm

Here
http://www.uadrones.net/military/research/acrobat/090724.pdf
pages 17 and 19 might bring some thoughts, though I very much agree with what has been said in the couple of posts above (for the UK context; the evolution path can’t be radically different, though). They are markers for the come back of an LO UAV capable of penetrating non-permissive areas, to fulfil the mission, be it ISR, strike or both.The fork in the road (where they were left to be second priority on these long-term development road maps) was decided by the needs in ME/ Central Asia ops of the time.

Steve
Steve
October 3, 2015 3:04 pm

Out of curiosity, based on the Typhoon / Tornado just being a basic bomber (typical current role) against low threat targets, what do they bring that Reaper doesn’t?

I am assuming that the jets can carry more bombs that the drone, but on the flip side the drone provides for zero risk to UK forces and so less media fall out.

The Other Chris
October 3, 2015 5:11 pm

Just makes sense to keep Reaper.

We’ll see additional CPB units purchased together with field kit conversions for the current fleet together with Brimstone integration proper.

At current rates, that’s not a lot of cash for a top notch capability.

Update with additional payloads at our own pace over the coming years.

The real question ACC: Odds on RAPTOR?!

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
October 4, 2015 3:21 am
Martin
Martin
October 4, 2015 3:41 am

there is no unmanned aerial system called protector as yet. I am guessing this will be the new name for what ever scavenger is going to deliver.

They seem to be talking longer range than reaper and more sophisticated weapons and sensors.

Sounds good of they can deliver.

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
October 4, 2015 5:32 am
Reply to  Martin

That name could be mixed up with the Israeli USV also named Protector.

Mrmalaya
Mrmalaya
October 4, 2015 8:32 am

I reckon it’s a UK rebadging of a Reaper ER purchase . Protector sounds more like what the government say they want the force to be doing, ER is cheap and would be in service quicker too. It also doesn’t hinder FCAS based developments unlike an Avenger purchase.

Mrmalaya
Mrmalaya
October 4, 2015 8:55 am

Reaper ER? Longer range, quieter and American. 3 points from the reports all satisfied, doesn’t impinge on longer Scavenger or FCAS developments and is quick and cheap.

Martin
Martin
October 4, 2015 10:35 am

i would not put it past either Cameron or the telegraph to make such a cock up but I am guessing it’s more likely a new drone built in the UK.

Hohum
Hohum
October 4, 2015 10:40 am

Highly unlikely it’s going to be made in the UK, for 20 airframes that would make very little sense. Also, if it was Cameron would have screamed it from the rooftops.

mrmalaya
mrmalaya
October 4, 2015 10:42 am

Reaper ER conversion /purchase?

Chris
Editor
Chris
October 4, 2015 10:46 am

Martin – it might be a fine idea and a sound strategic investment for UK PLC, but I think we need to file your guess in the drawer marked ‘Wishful Thinking’… SDSR seems to be a short-term instrument – what the Chiefs want in service within the next 5 years? Investment in development programmes seems to be beyond its remit. Off-hand I can’t think exactly where strategic investment is defined – maybe that’s why there’s so little evidence of strategic thinking?

Martin
Martin
October 4, 2015 11:16 am

so if it’s another drone from a foreign country then where does the new name come from?

Martin
Martin
October 4, 2015 11:18 am

What armed UAV’s are there out there that are bigger and more sophisticated than reaper?

Chris
Editor
Chris
October 4, 2015 11:22 am

Martin – same place Foxhound came from when the FPI/GD name of the product was Ocelot, or where Mastiff came from when the manufacturer called the vehicle Cougar, or where Warthog came from when Singapore Technologies marketed the vehicle as Bronco… I think its a way of highlighting to the Taxpayer that the UK has paid out for modifications to the otherwise off-the-shelf platform.

Martin
Martin
October 4, 2015 11:28 am

agreed Chris but what system out there could it be if it’s not reaper? A British version of guardian perhaps?

Steve
Steve
October 4, 2015 11:31 am

Considering the amount of training that seems to be going on in the US, I am assuming whatever Protector is, it will be something that the US already have in service or are testing.

Chris
Editor
Chris
October 4, 2015 11:33 am

May not be an exciting new whizzy UAV, but I’m reasonably confident Protector will be Reaper with Brimstone. Which is fine; its a proven platform and the RAF have experienced remote pilots, so an incremental upgrade.

An interesting choice of name though – as the machine provides an offensive capability while requiring no local presence of own forces, ‘protecting’ is one of the things for which its least likely to be used.

Steve
Steve
October 4, 2015 11:53 am

I am not so sure it will be Reaper, the PM saying they will replace Reaper with twice as many Protectors indicates a new hull rather than an upgrade to existing.

However, whatever it is its interesting that they are discussing defence now heavily a few months before the SDSR. At this point, they can’t cut the military further after highlighting the risks. As such I am assuming we will get confirmed around 100 f35’s to replace the tornados like for like (maybe slightly less to compensate for another 10 drones) and 13 type 26 frigates to directly replace the current ships. Whether we will actually get them is a whole different story.

The big question will still be around the corvette idea, as its a way to reduce the number of frigates without losing face. They could say announce 6 type 26 and 8 much cheaper and less capable corvettes and argue that they have increased capability. I guess they could do something similar with the f35’s and the land force. Smoke and mirrors.

Mark
Mark
October 4, 2015 11:56 am

It will be reaper with the ability to operate in national airspace which needs a number of changes to he airframe.The current reaper can’t do this. It’s been tested in the us and a system will be certified by 2018.

JamesF
October 4, 2015 12:10 pm

The new name, “Protector” is also a politcal statement – about what drones are for. Probably does not indicate anything rapidcally new – agree with Mark.

Challenger
Challenger
October 4, 2015 7:22 pm

For something that will be largely used to rain fire down on the enemy Protector is a crappy name.

Reckon we’ll see newer version of the Reaper with UK specific stuff like Brimstone and Paveway IV. Guessing if this is the case the 20 new drones will be to avoid operating 2 different variants and maybe because upgrading and retrofitting the existing 10 is prohibitively expensive.

It would be great if we were going it alone with Mantis, but sadly i think the development costs and low chances of collaboration/exports makes this pretty unlikely, such a shame France pulled out of the Scavenger/Telemos agreement.

All in all this is obviously good news in terms of drone capability but the lack of further details is frustrating and the impact this level of expenditure will have on the RAF fast-jet fleet and wider SDSR is a concern.

ChrisM
ChrisM
October 4, 2015 7:39 pm

Predator and Reaper turned out to be poor name choices, presumably for marketing purposes.
It doesn’t help the PR for one’s proportionate,legal,controlled security work to be done by ‘Reaper’ or Predator.
Protector will sound much better.
Bit surprised CMD referred to them as drones, for the same reason.

CMM
CMM
October 4, 2015 9:55 pm

Chris – Regarding the name sounding a bit off due to the offensive rather than defensive nature of UAVs, these ‘defensive’ & ‘protective’ terms seem to go hand in hand with the drone strike in Syria recently being labelled as ‘self defense’, all very subjective I think though I completely agree with you.

JamesF
October 4, 2015 11:25 pm

I imiagine these will come out of the new Joint Security Fund (the anti-ISIL fund, if you like). So probably not going to affect other areas greatly.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 5, 2015 1:05 am

@JF, that would meet my expectation, though it was set on the Open Thread:
“I expect this to be paraded as the budding & newly found spirit of Jointery, the Service Chiefs and the PM singing from the same hymn book.”

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 5, 2015 1:16 am

With the announcement of the purchase of 20 new UCAVs, will this allow the RAF to retire its Tornados quicker as the UCAVs take up the slack against ISIL, and allow the F-35 procurement, though probably announced in the SDSR to be slowed down, say 30 now and another 30 a fair bit later and a final 40 after that? Reducing the amount allocated to the F-35 could free up money for other things like the much talked about MPA.

As long as the Typhoon development path is not slowed, I cannot see this hurting our capabilities to much. The one exception is the loss of the RAPTOR/Tornado combination without a replacement. One of the ideas banded around prior to the retirement of he Canberra PR9s was transferring the EO sensor to a platform, such as the one used for the Sentinel. Could the RAPTOR sensor fit in the faring on the underside of the Sentinel. Using that platforms data links the pictures could be beamed to where needed as with the Sentinel, so 3 to 4 of these operated by the same squadron would retain a similar capability. The interior space could be used to install a data node, collecting data from numerous sources and sending it where required. The crew would be the same as Sentinel and the cost could hopefully be manageable. This would give us a world leading ISTAR infrastructure to build off in the future.

HMArmedForcesREview
HMArmedForcesREview
October 5, 2015 3:12 am
Reply to  Lord Jim

Lord Jim, I think it may be the slowing down of the UK-FR UCAV, That’s a find futuristic mini-stealth bomber, but I don’t see fitting in with the F-35 and possible future ISTAR–the future MPA/MMA planes. Money wise I would say these Protectors first, the steath UCAV second.

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 5:35 am

Lots of confusion in the last few posts,

The UK-FR UCAV is a different requirement, currently it’s little more than a science project with a vague eye on possibly using it as part of a Typhhon replacement in the 2030s. It’s difficult to see it being affected by Protector.

The Joint Security fund is a very unlikely candidate for funding protector as this is a core MoD programme. The funding will in part be the budget line that existed for Scavenger, if necessary topped up from other parts of the budget.

Unfortunately, without more detail on other decisions it’s difficult to know what the impact on other programmes will be. But Protector, assuming it is based on Reaper, is a poor substitute for fast jets.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 5, 2015 6:28 am

We’ve already solved the RAPTOR problem, by calling Scavanger Raptor.

… Joking apart, much agree with LJ (not necessarily with the specific solution) that without a supporting Wide-Area Surveillance view, the soda straw vision of Protectors will hamper their overall effectiveness.

“poor substitute for fast jets” much agreed, too. It would be like saying: OK, we’ve got mortars, so let’s do away with our artillery.

JamesF
October 5, 2015 6:28 am

@HH – I think you are confusing JSF with UOR funding. JSF money is no different from any other MoD money, its a billion a year uplift, but available across the intelligence, security services and armed forces (and DFID) – i.e. the ‘hybrid’ goverment context in which ISIL is fought. If it was a current core programme it would be funded under current equipment programme, surely? – especially as it is being annouced in advance of SDSR. You might be right, and It doesn’t really matter anyway in the big sceme of things – but my understanding is that this type of ‘security’ requirement is just what the JSF is for.

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 6:40 am

JamesF,

No, you are confused about what the JSF actually is. It’s a treasury controlled fund to which the departments have to bid if they want some, it’s actually very like the UOR funding. Protector is a core MoD equipment programme, effectively the successor to Scavenger, it will therefore be funded from the core ModD budget.

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
October 5, 2015 6:50 am

3 main funds:

CSSF–MOD, FCO, DFID (Treasury addition not part dept budgets but can be counted towards MOD spending)

Deployed Military Activity Pool

Joint Security Fund

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
October 5, 2015 6:51 am
Reply to  Hohum

A “light bomber” as a replacement for Typhoon?

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 7:09 am

As part of. The whole FCAS activity is about understanding how, from the 2030s onwards, the combat air function can best be delivered, that includes strike and A2A. Part of this is understanding the split between manned and unmanned and the role of the low RCS UCAV.

JamesF
October 5, 2015 8:07 am

CSSF is different, I used to manage one of its predecessors – the Africa Conflict Pool, for West Africa back in the day – it is largely ODA funds and thus can’t be used for military hardware. I don’t see why JSF cannot be used to buy equipment? (its big – £1.5Bn/year), or if it was used so, why that kit would not be ‘core’ equipment? (a term that only applies in comparison to UORs). But its splitting hairs so I’ll leave it until more emerges. Good news anyway.

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 8:24 am

It can be used to buy equipment, but the Treasury is never going to allow it to be used to fund a core large capital equipment programme like this, especially one that has existed as a project since 2010 and has its own line in the MoD equipment plan.

Martin
Martin
October 5, 2015 9:13 am

off course we are assuming that protector is scavenger and not a UOR to fight ISIS. Would not be the first time the MOD has offloaded a core requirement onto a UOR.

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 9:50 am

A replacement for Reaper is long-term capability, it’s not a UOR.

JamesF
October 5, 2015 10:35 am

But wasn’t Reaper bought as a UOR? http://www.raf.mod.uk/equipment/mq9reaper.cfm

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 10:39 am

And were then subsequently taken into the core budget (announced last year IIRC) meaning their replacement will be a core programme.

JamesF
October 5, 2015 10:50 am

Reaper was taken into the core budget because the operation ‘Herrick’ – for which they were bought – had concluded, and a decision needed to be made whether to retain them. But we are into a new operation now – ‘Shader’. So a UOR is a possible avenue – especially as I imagine core equipment annoucements will not be made before SDSR, and this seems more in keeping with an immediate requirement to address ISIL. But there is also an underspend on the equipment budget, an £8Bn. contigency that was inlcuded in 2010, and the JSF, so plenty of avenues. Whatever happens, as you say, there will be retained. But its certainly not Scavenger – its a response to recent events in the middle east.

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 11:19 am

No, Reaper was taken into core because it was decided it was a core defence capability. Had that of not been the case the capability would have been abandoned. Thus its replacement will be core. This almost certainly is Scavenger, is core budget and the announcement has been timed to provide positive defence news in time for the Tory party conference.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 5, 2015 11:40 am

That part ” the announcement has been timed to provide positive defence news in time for the Tory party conference” we know, the rest we will find out soon enough.

Hannay
Hannay
October 5, 2015 4:04 pm

@Hohum and others

Worth pointing out that “Scavenger” is a requirement rather than a piece of equipment. Reaper might end up being the solution to the Scavenger requirement (or partial solution).

Its almost time for a main gate decision for Scavenger.

Hohum
Hohum
October 5, 2015 4:12 pm
Reply to  Hannay

Yup, but it has always been clear that a major part of fulfilling that requirement was a MALE UAS.

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
October 7, 2015 2:22 pm
Hohum
Hohum
October 7, 2015 2:44 pm

Thats not really an update, the timeframe hasn’t changed and FCAS was never just about UCAVs. In fact the FCAS studies were always about determining the right split between the two platform types to give the required capability.

JamesF
October 7, 2015 2:45 pm

Also that ‘Protector’ IS Scavenger (or at least the MALE component). Happy to eat humble pie!

JamesF
October 7, 2015 2:53 pm

Also another site reporting that RAF Head of RPAS saying it is a developed Reaper (Reaper ER with the certifiable Predator detect and avoid mods to allow operation in UK airspace).

Hohum
Hohum
October 7, 2015 2:53 pm

More importantly Protector is conformed as being the Scavenger platform and as being an enhanced Reaper able to operate in UK airspace. Final configuration to be conformed March 2016.

The Other Chris
October 7, 2015 3:41 pm

Certifiable Predator B (itself based on Block V aka ER) was certainly being shown off at RIAT wasn’t it?…

mrmalaya
mrmalaya
October 7, 2015 3:55 pm

I’ll take that thank you. Reaper ER is the only thing that makes sense and will allow everyone else to concentrate on the more strategically important FCAS prize.

Mark
Mark
October 7, 2015 4:52 pm

Considering that certifiable reaper was being designed to defstan 00-970 the news is not earth shattering. Funnily enough there planning a sonobuoy test with reaper early next year.