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UK getting ready to go it alone on Galileo

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That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

So let's see, what is the UK Gov history on hardware accomplishments ?

Oh yeah, they built a new aircraft carrier, but forgot the catapults.

Yep, great indicator of confidence there. They'll send up GPS satellites and forget the communication system, or something like that.

This is the start of a looong popcorn era.

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

Yes.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

Oddly, if you look at our history BEFORE we joined the EEC, it was a lot better. Jump Jet, Hovercraft, transistor etc etc.

Going forward, nobody can really know, but it's up to the likes of us.

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

So let's see, what is the UK Gov history on hardware accomplishments ?

You mean like building the bits of Galileo that work, unlike, say, the Swiss-built clock modules?

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

Oh yeah, they built a new aircraft carrier, but forgot the catapults.

Don't forget the contract - the "£5billion" will balloon to £15 billion, which will have to change hands whether the system gets built or not. The satellites will end up in a shed in Basingstoke.

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Happy

Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

"transistor etc etc".

Julius Edgar Lilienfeld* patented a field-effect transistor in 1926[1] but it was not possible to actually construct a working device at that time. The first practically implemented device was a point-contact transistor invented in 1947 by American physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor

*a Jewish Austro-Hungarian-born German-American physicist and electronic engineer, credited with the first patents on the field-effect transistor (FET) (1925) and electrolytic capacitor (1931). Because of his failure to publish articles in learned journals and because high-purity semiconductor materials were not available yet, his FET patent never achieved fame, causing confusion for later inventors.

Also read about the Jump Jet.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

"Oddly, if you look at our history BEFORE we joined the EEC, it was a lot better."

You're looking at a time just after WWII - and really seeing a continuation of the inventiveness that engendered (radar etc.). After that the arts & PPE graduates took over and they didn't like these little men in brown coats with pens and screwdrivers in their top pockets.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

But we did invent the Jet engine that the jump jet uses and then promptly gave the Americans the details for free. Oh, don't forget the magnetron (radar) and the digital computer; although we crushed the evidence and put all of details under top secret for a stupid length of time so the Americans commercialised them before us.

In fact, going back in history, more was achieved by private entrepreneurs and inventors (Cockroft, Mitchell, Watt, Bolton, Parsons, Brindley, Stephenson, Newcomen, Trevithick ) than by Governments. Maybe we should encourage more entrepreneurs with better tax breaks?

As for Gallileo, do we really need it anyway?

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

"But we did invent the Jet engine that the jump jet uses and then promptly gave the Americans the details for free"

We had no choice. In exchange for American help during WW2 we had to sign over large swathes of advanced technology for free. They profited heavily from the war while we were left in debt for decades.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

"Oh yeah, they built a new aircraft carrier, but forgot the catapults."

They didn't forget the catapults, they just had nothing to power them with, catapults need steam, the carrier is powered by gas turbines, no steam, they needed a nuclear reactor

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

After that the arts & PPE graduates took over and they didn't like these little men in brown coats with pens and screwdrivers in their top pockets.

So tell me again why it's better to have a central political government like the EU controlling R&D? Apart from a large unaccountable taxpayer-funded budget, I suppose.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

But we did invent the Jet engine that the jump jet uses and then promptly gave the Americans the details for free.

I'm guessing you're talking about the Bristol Siddeley (later Rolls Royce) Pegasus as used in the Harrier/AV-8A, which which was licensed (presumably for a lot of money) to Pratt & Whitney, so they could build them for the US version of the Harrier (also sold for money). According to Wikipedia though P&W never built any though, so they were all built by RR instead.

So no, we didn't 'promptly' give the Americans anything, there was a quite a few years between the first flights of the Kestrel/P.1127 (early 1960's) and collaboration with the US (1970s). There's also no evidence that the license was 'for free'.

The Harrier and it's engine are actually a rare success story in selling aircraft to the US military, which historically tends to only buy domestic models.

(That said, by the end of production of the Harrier, it was being built by Boeing and BAE, both of whom are multinational companies and it's tricky to assign knowledge to a particular country.)

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@Phil O'Sophist

So tell me again why it's better to have a central political government like the EU controlling R&D? Apart from a large unaccountable taxpayer-funded budget, I suppose.

Compared to what? The total EU budget for 28 countries - including all that agricultural nonsense, as well as waste[1] - is a drop in the ocean of Sir Humphrey's empire, and it's focussed. Science being one of those focuses.

[1] Both real waste and the product of 30+ years of often-false news from Murdoch et al.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

@phuzz - think before then. The original jet engine, patented and developed by Frank Whittle, was basically handed for free to the US (they paid a flat $1M for total rights IIRC).

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

The Yanks are moving to linear magnetic motors for catapults and they just need electricity.

I spent the weekend at Blackpool on the Icon coaster which uses linear magnetic motors to launch the coaster. If a amusement park can make them work then show should the RN's contractors.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

@AMBxx

You’ve muddled your cause and effect there. The decline in innovation can be ascribed to a short-termist, greed-is-good, attitude which came about, in part, through Thatcherism and imported Reaganism. The banks were supported through deregulation, resulting in the phenomenal rise of the City of London (supported also by being the main financial centre for Europe).

Sadly, part of the Thatcherist attitude also resulted in the mass sale of public business. In some cases this was good (the automotive industry), in other cases it was forced upon us (by the world bank, as a condition of further investment - we were once ‘the sick man of Europe’, how quickly we forget) and in others it was unnecessary, driven through sheer greed (public-private partnerships, railways &c.)

We had great, innovative British industry even after we joined the EU. Sinclair, Acorn, Apricot, Inmos, even Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Reliant and more besides. Thanks to the short termist view, and no protection from our government, they were starved of the funds to invest for the future and sold outside of the UK - worse, in many cases, sold out of Europe.

We still have one or two innovative businesses - they’re the ones that are privately owned. Imagine what they could do if they could raise funds on a healthy stock market, safe in the knowledge that they could rely on government protection.

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

Expensive failure - are we talking about SatNav or Brexit preparations?

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

Oh yeah, they built a new aircraft carrier, but forgot the catapults.

... and the aircraft.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

"They profited heavily from the war while we were left in debt for decades."

Yeah, but we won.

Didn't we? We won?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

It's not either or. I am not aware of an EU directive forbidding private sector R&D. Equally I am not aware that post Brexit UK government R&D will suddenly magically escape central political control. At least Europe has some countries with political systems that support industry and R&D (thinking of you - Germany) - Westminster with it's cadre of professional politicians and failed PPE journalists couldn't organise a project to research the effect of fermentation on cognition in a yeast processing plant.

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LDS
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"they paid a flat $1M for total rights IIRC"

What fools. They could have had German jet engines designs for free a little later...

Meanwhile UK really gave Stalin designs and engines for free...

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

The decline in aerospace and other industry started *way* before Thatcher and Reagan. Successive Labour* governments killed off projects like TSR.2, the British space programme (primarily the launchers), the list goes on. Manufacturing was on its knees, was way behind compared to the continent, and starved of money. One thing we did not lack was BRAINS and BOFFINS... Science across the world has benefitted so much from the inventiveness of necessity, and this country has benefitted countlessly from great minds of various nations coming here to study, coming here to do research, and export that knowledge to projects across the globe.

* I do not subscribe to party policy of any party in this country, just pointing out facts

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

"will balloon to £15 billion"

...and the rest! ESA or NASA (or the Russians) will have us by the proverbials for a launch system

We might just about manage to pay for it if we scrap HS2 ... but even then I doubt it

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

@anothercynic

Of course. What I said doesn’t preclude the possibility that some Thatcherite policies were worthwhile, and nor does it preclude the possibility that other businesses folded / were bought before her either. However, post Thatcher there was a demonstrable increase in the number of businesses failing / leaving British or European control.

That said, I would argue that some of her banking reforms were necessary, and that it was essential to weaken the unions somewhat (although it would have been an act of vandalism to destroy them utterly) - as with so many things, balance is required. A bit of Union, a bit of government, a bit of socialism, a bit of capitalism, a bit of left, a bit of right.

It was vandalism to permit so many British businesses go to the wall / be sold off, to reform finance to the point where greed became more desirable than solid investment.

Similarly, it’s an act of vandalism to leave the EU now - rejoining will not be so easy. Regaining the squandered trust may be impossible.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

The US gave us money to develop the P.1127/Kestrel/Harrier under the guise of Mutual Weapons Development so, among other things, Bristol only had to cover 25% of the cost of engine development.

Plus the idea was part French.

Overall it's all so complex

http://www.airvectors.net/avav8_1.html

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

The original jet engine
So not the one in the jumpjet then?

Don't be mad about selling it to the US (they at least paid, and given the circumstances that wasn't bad), be mad about Rolls Royce straight up giving 40 Nene turbojet engines (plus blueprints) to Russia, after extracting a promise that they would be used for evaluation, and definitely not for military purposes.

Of course, within four years the Nene had been reverse engineered to produce the RD-45 (later the VK-1) and was powering the MiG-15.

(Later on it was reverse engineered a second time by the Chinese to produce the Wopen WP-5. Which all sounds terrible, but it's not like reverse engineering a jet engine is easy, just easier than having to design one yourself).

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Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

It's had aircraft on it since it commenced sea trials...

If you're referring to F-35B's then we are taking delivery of them right when we need them and in accordance with the test program.

https://goo.gl/images/TXqAew

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Re: "they paid a flat $1M for total rights IIRC"

@LDS - The German designs of the time were beyond their metallurgy to build reliably. They needed a full overhaul about every 50 hours. The Whittle type (centrifugal rather than axial compressors) would last 3 times longer.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

Er.. transistor?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

assuredly not, just look out your windows if you're in England.

Those who fought your Wars have been betrayed.

Anywhoos, before community standards rake me over the coals...

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

"Didn't we? We won?"

Google for pictures of Germany or Japan in autumn 1945. They definitely lost.

Whether we, or any of our allies could reasonably be said to have won is left as a philosophical exercise for the reader.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

We had no choice. In exchange for American help during WW2 we had to sign over large swathes of advanced technology for free.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If it brought you supplies, allied troops, planes and ships, food, oil, armaments, ammunition, all in enormous quantities... which it did... then it was hardly giving technology away for free.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

They didn't forget the catapults, they just had nothing to power them with, catapults need steam, the carrier is powered by gas turbines, no steam, they needed a nuclear reactor

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Actually, BAE promised them electromagnetic catapults as a later upgrade, then jacked the price to the stratosphere to avoid having to make it work.

The mistake wasn't catapults, it was where they bought the carriers, and the contracts they accepted.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

"catapults need steam, the carrier is powered by gas turbines, no steam, they needed a nuclear reactor"

A bit right, but mostly wrong.

No. Steam catapults need steam, but EM catapults just need electricity.

Yes. The choice was made to fit gas turbines for propulsion. That was a choice, not inevitable. If the choice had been made to go with a steam turbine mechanical drive or steam turbine electric drive, that would not have been the case.

A nuclear reactor is in no way needed for a carrier with steam catapults. One could include steam generators, or go with some form of steam propulsion. Steam catapult carriers predate not only nuclear powered ships but any form of controlled fission.

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Meh

Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

They didn't forget the catapults, they just had nothing to power them with, catapults need steam, the carrier is powered by gas turbines, no steam, they needed a nuclear reactor.

No, they don't *need* steam. It was just that between the 1910s and the 1970s high pressure steam was readily available because the usual way of propelling a large warship required lots of boilers. The first aircraft carrier catapults were actually powered by compressed air, not steam, and presumably something similar is still possible. There are chemical solutions too - e.g. German V1s, amongst other things, were launched by steam generated from hydrogen peroxide.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

The original jet engine, patented and developed by Frank Whittle

Was this while reading the French patent from nine years earlier? Just as well he wasn't too close to the Norwegian engine from twenty seven years earlier or he might have been distracted by its noise.

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Joke

Re: Yeah, but we won.

It's an oldie, but a goody...

"Didn't we? We won?":

The European Commission has announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU, rather than German, which was the other contender. Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had room for improvement and has therefore accepted a five-year phasing in of "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make sivil servants jump for joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k", Which should klear up some konfusion and allow one key less on keyboards.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f", making words like "fotograf" 20% shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e" is disgrasful.

By the fourth yer, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and everivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. ZE DREM VIL FINALI COM TRU!

(With all due apologies to all the lovely German folks, especially those who brewed the bier I'm now drinking...:)

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

@45RPM, however to blame it on Thatcher and Reagan is not necessarily appropriate either. Those who didn't grow up and get with the programme (the world reality) went to the wall or flogged themselves off before they did go to the wall. Yes, it's brutal, but mollycoddling a business just because it's home-grown does not fix/change reality.

There's much I agree with you on though... things do need balance, and yes, we're going to have to work very hard to regain the trust of our continental neighbours if we do decide to spite our faces by leaving.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

"We had no choice. In exchange for American help during WW2 we had to sign over large swathes of advanced technology for free. They profited heavily from the war while we were left in debt for decades."

Under threat of invasion, huge amounts of UK science stuff was sent to the Americans and a lot of people still here who had that knowledge were unknowingly under threat of death from our own side if/when the German invasion happened. It was a sort of last resort, burn the bridges plan.

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Joke

Re: That is going to be one hell of an expensive failure

"...and the rest! ESA or NASA (or the Russians) will have us by the proverbials for a launch system"

Why? I'm sure Mr Branson will do gov.uk a good deall and launch them from Spaceport UK up in far north of Scotland!

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Headmaster

Why it's better to have the EU funding R&D

So tell me again why it's better to have a central political government like the EU controlling R&D? Apart from a large unaccountable taxpayer-funded budget, I suppose.

Firstly, the EU isn't a 'government'.

Secondly it doesn't 'control' R&D. It funds some projects and not others, within a general framework that is a consensus between the 28 EU governments. This is a good thing, because it avoids duplication and encourages broad, diverse research teams, which are well known to be more effective than inward-looking local teams.

Thirdly, it isn't unaccountable. Actually the EU auditors are much more nosy than any national R&D auditors, in my experience. They claw back inappropriate expenditure.

And finally, as someone else noted, the total EU R&D budget is a drop in the ocean compared to national R&D budgets.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

Not to forget HST InterCity 125.

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LDS
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"The German designs of the time were beyond their metallurgy to build reliably."

Still, they became operative before any allied plane - and axial compressors were more useful, and became the standard for most modern jet engines. British axial compress designs had more troubles.

More than metallurgy - German one was quite advanced-, it was the scarcity of essential components for advanced alloys to require the use of less lasting materials for mass production.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

Not to forget HST InterCity 125.

Still holds the world diesel-electric speed record.

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Not enough energy

The first aircraft carrier catapults were actually powered by compressed air, not steam, and presumably something similar is still possible.

A typical aircraft of the 1910-20 period suitable for launch from an aircraft carrier would weigh a couple of tonnes with a low takeoff speed. A mission-ready F-35B or indeed any existing strike fighter can weigh up to 25 tonnes loaded for a mission and can require the plane to be travelling at over 150mph at the end of the catapult to clear the front of the carrier successfully and avoid becoming a sea dart (tm).

Finding space to fit air or steam plant into the existing carrier spaces and the surplus power to produce stored energy to launch aircraft using some kind of catapult wasn't really a goer for the QE-class carriers. The EMALS electromagnetic launcher was a possibility, it has a lot of good features but it also sucks a lot of electrical power and the QE-class gas turbine engines weren't specced to produce bursts of surplus energy of that size. Some kind of battery/spinning storage might work but again there wasn't much space left to put it somewhere in the hull and if it ever broke then nothing could be launched at all.

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Re: UK sales to US

Don’t forget we also sold the Canberra bomber and the Hawk trainer to the US as well.

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Re: Why it's better to have the EU funding R&D

The EU auditors are a proverbial pain in the ass (but that's good). If you've ever been a partner in an EU-funded science or technology project, you will know what I mean.

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Re: Not enough energy

@Robert Sneddon, and remember that the QE-class carriers were first specced in the late nineties and refined early in the new millennium. A colleague of mine was seconded to BAe in Bristol to look at how to to bring the price of each down by nearly half.

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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

@Clunking Fist, don't forget APT (developed around the same time as the HST). As much as the APT was a complete flop for British Rail Engineering, they sold the technology and patents (to reduce the losses of the APT experience) on to... Italy's Fiat, who used and endlessly refined them to develop the Pendolino, which today plies its trade between London Euston and Liverpool/Glasgow, and many countries across the world. Many tilting trains out there in some form owe their existence to the engineers at BREL.

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