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Spy Plane intelligence 'lacking' - BBC

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Spy Plane intelligence 'lacking' - BBC

Old 6th Aug 2008, 14:57
  #21 (permalink)  
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Jacko, you assert that 39Sqn's sorties can be flown by manned aircraft. ...Not sure if a Harrier mate would like 12 hours per day 7 days per week, If that IS the case, you are right, however, the point of the thread is that the original comment is that there are not enough MEN (women) flying and operating them. Believe me, that the MQ-9 SYSTEM can provide 24/7 if RAF gave them a few more good men.
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Old 6th Aug 2008, 15:17
  #22 (permalink)  
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Can't wait for the time when the engineers only need to 'pop in' for a couple of hours a day to do the TRs/refuel/rearm and send them off again.

Several days duration would be even better!
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Old 6th Aug 2008, 21:01
  #23 (permalink)  
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"As it was that RNR Branch was disbanded and we had the option to integrate into the DIS Group, but I chose to come across to light blue in order to continue in the Image Analysis game (same job, same venue - that box in the fields in Huntingdonshire - different colour uniform). Even working in the Maritime shop. "

Oldspook - times are rapidly changing. If you are still serving them PM me as we may be able to have a useful chat!
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 01:09
  #24 (permalink)  
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Ancient Aviator

What happened to all that corporate knowledge that was gained over the years in NI? Where are these ISTAR specialists? A report like this just highlights the lack of strategic thinking within Air Manning to join up the dots.
Where to start . . . . The ISTAR specialists were only ever involved at the end of the process after the new shiny things with wings and engines had been bought. Little/no consideration was taken of the 'extras' that this kit required as it was in the very unsexy area of A/J6 world and those personnel that would be required to operate/provide analysis etc. As for Air Manning joining dots, they are doing their best to join two bits of 6" string to make a yard stick at the moment - Int An (I) FMDL at the thin end of 60% as I understand it.


It shows there are still turf wars between the Services. If ever there was an un-joint approach to capability it has to be the UAV ISTAR piece. Just ask anyone who works in Main Building. Army want radio controlled toys with a B&W camera being flown by Cpl Smith, the RAF want some form of global platform that floats around for a couple of days and has an entire operating team led by Wg Cdr Double-Barreled and bar. Both of these have their place. But if you get down into the Reaper/Watchkeeper territory there are still huge prejudices and efforts to draw boundaries within a decidedly grey area.
The whole point here is that the individual Service has bespoke requirements - nothing whatsoever to do with 'un-Jointness'. The real issue however, is not who owns the toys, or operates them, or has them in their ORBAT, but how the information/intelligence from each of them gets shared amongst those that need it.

Getting a UAV airborne and looking at the imagery is the easiest bit, identifying who needs the information/intelligence/imagery (delete as appropriate) and getting it to them is extremely tricky.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 01:15
  #25 (permalink)  
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On some subjects you have decent knowledge for a journo, however on this subject you are so wide of the mark it is faintly amusing!

You clearly have no experience of current ops and how Air power is used in the stan and Iraq. 39 Sqn are flying missions that no other UK aircraft can currently do and certainly far beyond what a FJ can do. The FJ in afghanistan are being used in a certain way because of their inherent limitations, not because the army want to use them that way. You seem to be saying that 39 are flying short (FJ length) sorties. I suggest you check your sources - again in terms of time on task (which is what really counts) the "1 order of magnitude" factor is about right, more depending on which platform you are talking about.

UAS infrastructure is, as you say, far more than buying a few airframes, but it is at least 1 order of magnitude than, say the Harrier infrastructure, lets not even count the AAR assets required.

Loss rates depend on how you look at them. If you count RAF or RAF flown UAVs then 1 is not really staggering. I would actually suggest that it is statistically too early to tell. I think that you will find that we have lost the same number of harriers in the same timescale. If you count all the army operated small UAVs then the losses are much higher but that is a completely different story.

Your a, b and c are all completely wrong. In summary you are actually exactly the problem I was talking about. You have no idea of current UAV capability and missions, although you have an excuse as you are not in the military and cannot know. This is particularly highlighted by the fact that you don't think that UAVs are a game changer. Go ask the USAF why they are replacing F16 sqns with UAV sqns. Go ask the troops on the ground what they think of Reaper.

What? You don't actually have daily contact with the army on current ops.? I am surprised.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 05:48
  #26 (permalink)  
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I've always respected your general grasp of Mil aviation matters in the past, but I have to agree with Mr Grim here - in fact, before I scrolled to the bottom of the page, the phrase in my mind was exactly what he has posted - you ARE way, way wide of the mark here.

As he has said, ask the guys on the ground for their view on MQ-9 and her operators, and what they can (and do) bring to the party. Then ask them whether they'd rather have a pair of FJ on task, or a Reaper. The answer may surprise you.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 10:31
  #27 (permalink)  
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"in Fighting"

After reading the above post's I can see that the British forces have been fighting each other for control (or for one of the other forces not to have it) of intelligence for far too long now.

I have a novel solution to end this in fighting once and for all.

Why don't we just ask the "other side" what they are hiding from us, and where!
This will allow two things:
1. It will let us know which of the services was actually looking for the right information in the first place.
2. It will give us time to really get stuck into each other in our ongoing fight against integrated intelligence jointery.

The war on terror may be winnable, the war on jointery however.........

Barnstormer1968 (tongue slipping back out from cheek now)
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 12:21
  #28 (permalink)  
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In Tor Wot,

Where to start . . . . The ISTAR specialists were only ever involved at the end of the process after the new shiny things with wings and engines had been bought.

What process are you referring to?

There were multiple ISTAR platforms operating during the seventies, eighties and nineties, each providing Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance capabilities. Remember, this operation was against one of the most sophisticated terrorist organizations the British military had, to date, encountered.

As each programme was 'retired', or replaced, inter-command and inter-service rivalry took over to such a extent that it saw this expertise scattered to the four winds.


Last edited by Sand4Gold; 7th Aug 2008 at 13:30.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 13:49
  #29 (permalink)  
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It may surprise you to know, but journalism is all about asking experts the questions, and then making sure that you understand the answers, and know why the answers are as they are. Frequently you have contradictory answers from different parties and interest groups, and you have to weigh them up and take advice as to their relative merit.

If I simply spouted the kind of lame twaddle that I could come up with off the top of my head, or from an uncritical reading of open sources, I'd be a columnist (a Max Hastings or a Lewis Page), who thought that my own opinions were of interest, rather than a journo, who knows only too well that my only value is as a filter and collator - as a conduit for information and ideas, not a source.

There are, in other words, air power experts and practitioners who disagree with you, and it's a synthesis of their views that I'm regurgitating.

The advantages and benefits of UAVs are undeniable - and are very well known. The drawbacks, weaknesses, pitfalls and shortcomings are less often discussed, resulting in this ridiculous notion that UAVs can do 90% of FJ tasks at 10% of the cost.

Which is, I'm assured, absolute and complete bollocks.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 14:39
  #30 (permalink)  
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Having reread my post I can see that the statement is a bit ambiguous, for which I apologise. I meant 90% of what FJ are currently doing on ops, not 90% of what a FJ can do. Also please don't take this as an anti-Harrier thread, I just use it for comparison as it is our current FJ in theatre. The points are equally valid for Tornado or F16.

So what are UAVs currently useless for? A whole range of stuff - Air to Air, SEAD, Strategic attack, LL through the Scottish hills! On current ops - shows of force (although they are wanted extremely rarely except for unofficial airshows). In terms of speed they are slow (so harrier finally has an aircraft it is faster than!) but when something happens it is usually the FJ that gets there last because the UAV is already there, then doesn't need to go to the tanker 40 mins later!

I would be very interested to know where your info comes from, Jacko, at least in a general sense. Some mate on a sqn, "briefings" from the MOD/RAF, some ex-jag guy???!!?? 99% of the RAF still think a UAV is only good for looking at things for hours on end with a pod and that is it. As with all sources I hope you do a sanity/credibility check. Although I see you talk to the experts - were you on the recent press visit to Creech?
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 16:00
  #31 (permalink)  
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Seeing as we've meandered on to ISTAR, I have to say that I'm slightly confused by the current fad amongst the high paid help for 'end-to-end ISTAR'.

From what I can gather, this takes the intelligence cycle (note the word cycle) and stretches it out into a linear process. Now unless I am mistaken, the whole point behind the intelligence cycle is that it allows the decision makers to evaluate what has been produced / happened and then adjust their COAs or plans accordingly, feeding back into the next iteration of the cycle.

So where is the evaluation process in a linear system such as 'end-to-end ISTAR'? Does it all just drop off the edge when you have taken out your target, gathered your information? Surely ISTAR should become I-STAR to denote the 2 separate processes: One - the I, being a cyclical J2 based process that is reviewed and adjusted on a constant basis, feeding into the other - the STAR, a linear J3-orientated process.

Or have I just missed the point completely and go climb back into my basha?
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 16:23
  #32 (permalink)  
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Melchett, you understand things far too well, you'll never be a Senior Officer. ISTAR as an end to end process seems to belong to J3. To paraphrase an old cliche, "we have ISTAR successes and Int failures"
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 17:44
  #33 (permalink)  
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What process are you referring to?
Sorry if it was a little ambiguous, I was referring to the procurement process not the ISTAR process as a whole.

I agree with your statement about corporate knowledge being diluted, however, it has little to do with inter-Service rivalry and more to do with the departure from the Services of those with the expertise.

One other significant difference between NI days and current ops is one of sheer scale (both geographic and technical) and dislocation of asset, analyst, and decision maker and the fragile link between them all (particularly the last two).
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 10:08
  #34 (permalink)  
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Shows of Force

Actually Mr Grim,

if you are imaginative with your use of ISTAR assets you can use them to affect things on the ground. It may not be the 'low-fly through' firing flares, but if you overtly demonstrate that you're looking at an area (or an individual) it is possible to change their behaviour.
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 21:59
  #35 (permalink)  
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The Rocks could fly it!!

Coat, hat, door & gone
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 04:47
  #36 (permalink)  
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Occasional Av - you said:


"if you are imaginative with your use of ISTAR assets you can use them to affect things on the ground."

...What don't you get about 2 GBU-12s and 4 Hellfires (or four GBU-12s if you really need)..
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