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MOD welfare programme for arms contractors and Israel!

26 October, 2012

An unreported aspect of the  drones issue is the MOD’s Watchkeeper project which  has gone very quiet over the last year.  Thales and the Israeli company  Elbit formed a joint venture to become the main contractors .  Initialy nearly £900 million was allocated for 54 drones, the first scheduled delivery was two years ago. The idea was they would go to Afghanistan. 

 I may be a divvy but how is it that these companies have spent 4/5 years producing something which is used in another guise around the world?  Answer:  Yes, its a great way to rip the British MOD off.

Elbit 450 drone as used by Americans

This is developing into another saga of waste, financial mismanagement and mis use of public funds.  Although there has been no news about Watchkeeper for over a year, recruiting for UAV research and design continues. The beneficiaries of this in Bristol are Qinetic, Thales, Rolls Royce?, VEGA Group Plc.  

Now it appears the MOD has purchased 5  Reaper drones to add to its existing fleet .  The others used in Afghanistan  are rented so the outrageous delays of Watchkeeper are even more costly. See previous posting

The most recent figures from the Ministry of Defence show that, by the end of September, the UK’s five Reapers in Afghanistan had flown 39,628 hours and fired 334 laser-guided Hellfire missiles and bombs at suspected insurgents.

The RAF bought the drones as an urgent operational requirement (UOR) specifically for Afghanistan, and the MoD confirmed that their purpose after 2014 was unclear. Under rules imposed by the EU and the Civil Aviation Authority, UAVs can be flown only in certain places in the UK, including around the Aberporth airfield in mid-Wales.

If the air-exclusion zone restrictions are not lifted by the end of 2014, the UK may have to relocate the drones to the US, or perhaps even to Kenya.

“No decisions have been made about the longer-term future of Reaper as a core capability, nor have any decisions been made on the basing of Reaper aircraft once the UOR is complete,” said a spokesman. “The UK has a need for a persistent intelligence-gathering capability. Our investment and experiences with Reaper will be considered in developing the programme … at this stage, the MoD is still developing this strategy.”    Time to call the National Audit Office.

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