PPRuNe Forums

PPRuNe Forums (https://www.pprune.org/)
-   Military Aviation (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation-57/)
-   -   Spy Plane intelligence 'lacking' - BBC (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/337960-spy-plane-intelligence-lacking-bbc.html)

Sand4Gold 5th Aug 2008 07:56

Spy Plane intelligence 'lacking' - BBC
Spy plane intelligence 'lacking'

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/image...ne_bbc_226.jpg The UK military has bought three Reapers from the US

The effectiveness of unmanned aerial vehicles used by UK military in Iraq and Afghanistan is being undermined by skills shortages, MPs have warned.
The said the reconnaissance drones have "battle-winning" properties, but how the intelligence they gather is processed needs to be improved.
The Ministry of Defence had been "slow" to appreciate their potential, the Commons Defence Committee report added.
The government said it "recognised" the contribution UAVs made.
UK forces currently use three types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) - the American-made Reaper, the Hermes 450 and the Desert Hawk.
The Reaper - of which the UK owns two after a third crashed in Afghanistan - is operated remotely via a satellite link by an operator based in Nevada in the US.
It is used to detect snipers or insurgents and roadside bombs, which have become one of the biggest threats to forces on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is also one of the UK's main tools in hunting down Taleban or al-Qaeda operatives.
The less powerful Hermes 450 and Desert Hawk are both operated in the field.
According to the report, the Army had a 48% shortfall in UAV operators at the start of 2008, while the RAF was 18% shy of the number needed to assess the intelligence value of images.

The committee said that the Ministry of Defence had been "slow" to appreciate their potential and had had to buy in UAVs as a "stop-gap filler" while it awaited the delivery of its new Watchkeeper system in 2010.
"The MoD must address the manning deficits in these areas in order to gain the maximum value from its current and future UAV systems," the committee said.
It also warned that the MoD needed to improve the way the material gathered by the UAVs was processed and disseminated to commanders on the ground, with one major computer programme already experiencing delays.
"The MoD was perhaps slow to appreciate the potential of UAVs, but now recognises the important contribution that they can make," said committee chairman James Arbuthnot.
"The MoD must push forward with its planned improvements so that out Armed Forces can continue to achieve information superiority over the enemy." Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth said UAVs had proved to be an "invaluable asset" for the military. "They have a crucial role to play in future operations and we will continue to invest in them," he said.

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.


Lurking123 5th Aug 2008 08:13

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.

andyy 5th Aug 2008 08:58

& the RN are still not sure what UAVs are for and what ISTAR actually is!

seakinger 5th Aug 2008 09:23

andyy- and your post shows a lack of awareness of Sk ASAC, and Lx, Sk and Merlin operated surveillance systems.....

but you're a funny guy no less...:D

andyy 5th Aug 2008 09:56

SK, Glad you like my humour. But there used to be some truth in it, IMHO. Having spent 20 yrs in the RN & 6 in Joint Int jobs I am aware of the platforms you mention but its the PWO master race that often appears to be ignorant of them and their contribution to the Joint ops and int picture. Its a cultural thing and being concerned about ISTAR seems to mean that they can't shout "Zippo 3" in the Ops room. ISTAR is something that "other people do". Even PWO(Cs) were happy to talk Comms but not Int, especially in terms of analysis. But I admit that I am not current now! And if you are suggesting things have changed since I wrote my staff papers in PJHQ then excellent; I am delighted that the RN has discovered "jointery" and its responsibilities to the Int world. You'll be telling me that the RN is intending to make a meaningful contribution to the all source analysis world next. As the Defence Select Committee observed, collection of data is one thing analysis to gain meaningful operational intelligence is another.

seakinger 5th Aug 2008 11:07


to an extent yes, things have got better- certainly in the areas of FMOC and related DCDC work looking at the future maritime environment. The problem is generation of meaningful contributions with reduced budgets, less time deployed, less joint and combined exercises which make putting the doctrine into practise hard work.

As to whether Mr PWO undertakes to embrace it wholeheartedly who knows? He is a strange, insular beast....certainly any navy personnel who have worked in either TELIC and HERRICK HQs/staff jobs are cognisant- but its an education process and will take time.

And yes, Army and RAF views on Tac, Operational and Strat UAVs diverge considerably and in a budgetary environment finding common ground is hard work.

jammydonut 5th Aug 2008 11:15

Surely they should be recruiting some schoolboys adept with gameboy :suspect:

Occasional Aviator 5th Aug 2008 11:15

But actually the PWOs have a point - ISTAR is something 'someone else does'. The sooner we can get people to define their INFORMATION needs rather than saying they need a particular platform/airframe, the sooner we can have a proper joint approach.

Doesn't matter who flies what, it matters what information the commander can get. And that has absolutely nothing to do with what ISTAR assests he/she has 'under command'.

pba_target 5th Aug 2008 11:49

OA - some might say you have just summed up the need for an independent air force....

andyy 5th Aug 2008 12:58

OA,to a certain extent I agree but the PWO has to understand what information it is that he can ask for, and what the caps & lims of the sensors are that might be providing that info. They also need to understand that "their" ships/ subs/ SK Mk7/ Merlin etc can be used as ISTAR assets to feed into the overall ISTAR picture.

Also, as the RN does not have an Int Branch, but expects PWOs to be a Ships own Int Officer (with the help of the EW & CT Branches) it might be useful if some of them actually did Int training & routinely undertook Int appointments between (and after) their one or two sea jobs as a PWO.

Occasional Aviator 5th Aug 2008 14:25

Point taken. But who are those RN Officers I've been meeting recently who say they're IntOs then?

alfred_the_great 5th Aug 2008 17:18

There's an Int cadre, based around the fact that we will aim to appoint people into N2 related jobs at least once per rank, with some Officers being able to deep specialise when required/if they so desire.

A lot of work was put into this programme, and hopefully it'll re-produce a decent N2 organisation, but who knows. The biggest proof of this will come when a Warfare Int Cadre Officer is made a CO of an FF/DD (or IPT TL for Engineers, Base Logs Cdr for the white mafia, etc etc), because until then it'll still be seen as a "branch" for those who couldn't quite cut it in their own world...

Melchett01 5th Aug 2008 18:09

"until then it'll still be seen as a "branch" for those who couldn't quite cut it in their own world... "

Try telling that to 007! :}

Unfortunately, creating a branch that is only filled on an ad hoc basis will never be a recipe for success. You will have some very good individuals who are specialists in certain areas, but no depth or structure to it.

If you want a dedicated N2 branch, you can't do it on an as and when basis, otherwise you will never be seen as the credible operators that you generally are.

RETDPI 5th Aug 2008 19:41

I cannot agree more.
All the time that "Int" is seen in the RAF as a settling ground for those who failed in their primary aspiration (usually Aircrew) then there will always be a credibility gap.

Unfortunately the Branch never seemed to help itself much in this regard.

You only have one life, I realised

So I left.

(Many years ago)

Bunkerbomb 5th Aug 2008 21:13

All the time that "Int" is seen in the RAF as a settling ground for those who failed in their primary aspiration (usually Aircrew) then there will always be a credibility gap.

Unfortunately the Branch never seemed to help itself much in this regard.

With all due respect things have moved on from those days...however I digress.

The more interesting element of the report on UAV's is Cttee's direction that the less glamorous direction and dissemination piece be scrutinised further. Getting platforms is only half of the job.:{

Mr Grim 6th Aug 2008 04:08

There are 2 other problems - first so many think that a UAV is just for ISR/ISTAR when it can do so much more. Second it quickly becomes apparent that a UAV can do 90%+ of the current FJ AG role, whereas the FJ can only do 50% of the UAV role and the UAV can be on task for 10 times as long for 10% of the cost. At that point some people get very defensive about their shiney pointy toys.

Not suggesting that UAVs are totally capable of replacing manned aircraft - not for a long time.

Occasional Aviator 6th Aug 2008 09:08

All the time that "Int" is seen in the RAF as a settling ground for those who failed in their primary aspiration (usually Aircrew) then there will always be a credibility gap.
As BunkerBomb says, this view is woefully out-of-date.

oldspook 6th Aug 2008 09:17

Interesting discussion on the side about an RN Int Branch (or lack of). Melchett - your comment that '..creating a branch that is only filled on an ad hoc basis will never be a recipe for success' is dead right - but we were saying this about 20 years ago. At that time I was one of the (v small) RNR PI Branch - and would have been delighted to come back full time if there had been an RN Int Branch.

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.

Since then I made regular enquiries about getting an Int job back in Dark Blue - even as an FTRS which is where I ended up in the RAF. No go - despite the increased and welcome emphasison Jointery.

Trouble is - even light blue have looked on FTRS IntOs (even with the 20+ years of Jt Int experience) as rather peripheral characters!

Jackonicko 6th Aug 2008 09:22

Mr Grim,

Yes a UAS can spend hours on station, and if you have a fairly static situation, that doesn't require your CAS assets to reposition rapidly, or to engage a number of widely geographically separated target sets then its low transit speed isn't an issue.

But looking how FJ air power is used in Afghanistan, that's quite a big 'IF'.

Moreover, looking at the average sortie lengths actually being flown by 39 Squadron, it's clear that the RAF's UASs are being used for missions that could be flown by manned platforms.

And yes, purchase price is low, though the infrastructure requirements and manning required by Predator/Reaper has been massive, and the aggregated cost per mission is high, because the loss rate is staggering.

And if you seriously think that a UAV "can do 90%+ of the current FJ AG role" then you're seriously deluded.

Small scale UAV ops are great to build up expertise in this area, ready for when it really does become a game-changer, to develop techniques, technologies, and tactics and to gain a fuller understanding of capabilities AND limitations.

But at the moment, we are using our UAVs largely for missions where:
a) Their 'loseability' is not an issue (the losses have not been due to enemy action, and a manned aircraft would not have been lost in the same circumstances).
b) Their extended endurance capability is not being exploited.
c) manned platforms would do the current job cheaper/quicker/better and above all with much greater flexibility.

I wonder whether ZA179, ZA180 and the others reflect a recognition of these limitations?

RETDPI 6th Aug 2008 09:36

As BunkerBomb says, this view is woefully out-of-date.

Whilst I'm absolutely delighted to hear that the world has apparently moved on, I do however recall some lambasting on this very site quite recently regarding the Ops Support Branch - of which I believe Int. is now a part.
"View" and "Reality" are of course different constructs.

All times are GMT. The time now is 00:02.

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.