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 Post subject: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:31 am 
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"Army bomb expert killed trying to clear the way for vital supplies" is the headline under which Nicholas Cecil, chief political correspondent for The Evening Standard writes today.

lView full article here

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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:55 am 
How the MoD can ignore the threat of IEDs when these devices have been a mainstay in most of the Middle East conflicts of recent years,not to mention the IRA,is utterly incompetent.


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:59 pm
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They haven't quite ignored them, if anything they make it more dangerous by dutifully taking what worked in Northern Ireland and transplanted it to Afghanistan without adapting it to the new enemy's tactics. They could send in their Johhny 5 robot relatively easily in NI but not in Afghanistan or Iraq. Just getting to the IED can be a deadly affair. They are going in half-cocked rather than either not doing it or doing it properly.

I really don't get the unarmoured bomb disposal lorry. How is the threat to bomb disposal teams any less than in Bosnia?


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:15 pm 
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gareth wrote:
I really don't get the unarmoured bomb disposal lorry. How is the threat to bomb disposal teams any less than in Bosnia?


Be fair! It has anti-riot shields to protect the windows against stone thowing. For £415,000 a pop, they got those with the free extras.

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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:27 pm 
Most of the papers that are in the public forum, are not interested in the military aspects of the problem. They are in the political game. They do not care if helicopters are there or not, or is helicopter support from the US command sufficient. What matters for them, is to beat the present government over the head, an issue that reverberates nicely with a public that wants to see the back of this government asap.

Though I share your frustration Dr North, that the MSM is not dealing with the military problem in Afghanistan, I do believe that seeing the back of this government asap, is the best thing that can happen for the country, and for the war effort.


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:35 pm 
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DP111 wrote:
Most of the papers that are in the public forum, are not interested in the military aspects of the problem. They are in the political game. They do not care if helicopters are there or not, or is helicopter support from the US command sufficient. What matters for them, is to beat the present government over the head, an issue that reverberates nicely with a public that wants to see the back of this government asap.

Though I share your frustration Dr North, that the MSM is not dealing with the military problem in Afghanistan, I do believe that seeing the back of this government asap, is the best thing that can happen for the country, and for the war effort.


Not convinced the Tories will do any better ... not to judge from the performance of their front bench defence team. But you are right. Helicopters are "totemic" - something easy the media (and the opposition pols) can grab hold of. If the Talib shot down a bunch of helos, they would still be saying we need mere helicopters - as indeed we would, simply to replace the losses.

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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:42 pm 
Forgive this OT promotion but please support Man in a Shed’s “Silly Week” next week. Logos are available at his site.

http://atoryblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/s ... is-go.html


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:04 pm 
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jameshigham wrote:
Forgive this OT promotion but please support Man in a Shed’s “Silly Week” next week. Logos are available at his site.

http://atoryblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/s ... is-go.html


I'm sure the troops in Helmand would be delighted to join in ... perhaps they can invite the Taleban to partake. In the week of the election there, when violence is expected to intensify, I am sure they will be delighted to take time out. And we will all be so thrilled that the British blogosphere is on the ball, as always.

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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:02 pm
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Posted by me elsewhere on blog:

Putting it simply 18 months ago the MoD were given an unsolicited offer for 60 Blackhawk helicopters and a training package for £600 Million. The MoD not having to concern itself with a "scandalous helicopter shortage in Afghanistan" turned the offer down and instead awarded Westland Helicopters a £1 Billion order for 62 Lynx helicopters for delivery in 2012 and an ISD of 2014. This of course made good press, defence work for local workers etc and what we had is 62 helicopters replacing - Lynx Mk3 (RN), Lynx Mk8 (RN), Lynx Mk7 (Army), Lynx Mk9 (Army) and all the Gazelles. Put in laymans terms for every helicopter we get we lose 3.

When the MoD went to the three services and told them of the offer the Army turned it down, too big, the RAF turned it down, too simple and the Royal Navy turned it down as it wasn't fit for service on board ship.

I am well aware that the role of the Lynx differs some what from the Blackhawk in Royal Naval service certain parallels are drawn when it comes to the Army and Royal Marines (who operate but do not own the Lynx AH7).

Both are twin engined, both carry troops and both can be armed. However because of its size it falls into the RAF remit when it comes to operating the aircraft so the AAC were obviously sceptical about its practicality. If they were to lose their Lynx fleet and not get it replaced the AAC would become the Apache AH.1 force and would have to hold on to the Gazelle so it stayed large enough to be self sustaining.

The RAF on the other hand saw the Blackhawk as a step backwards. If it had to take these helicopters into its orbat it would lose valuble CEL and REL revenue streams that would no longer be able to be spent on Merlin, Chinook and the MLH replacement programme (Replacement of Puma and Sea King).

So what was looked at instead.

The Royal Navy looked at its Sea King HC Mk4 fleet and saw a frame that was 40 years old and coming to the end of its life. However with rotary funding cut to the tune of £1.4 Billion by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer (Gordon Brown) a solution would have to be found to extend the life of these frames and give the aircraft more lift so it could operate in the new theatres of operation we now find ourselves in. As Merlin Mk.1 was now in service the Sea King ASW Mk6 was being retired. These airframes were looked at and a number of them were selected for converstion to Sea King HC Mk6 with Carson blades (if you cannot update the engine get QientiQ to update the blades). The Royal Navy now had an interim solution so didn't need the Blackhawk which couldn't operate from ships anyway.

The Royal Air Force looked at its rotary fleet and saw a heavily used Chinook fleet and a Merlin fleet that was still recovering from poor spares procurement (MoD and poor procurement...never). However 72 Sqn was in the process of withdrawing from Northern Ireland so RAF Benson had a fleet of Puma helicopters that had potential for interim (short term upgrade). There was also the issue of the Chinook Mk3 that were still sitting in Hangars in Wiltshire which had'nt been touched since 1998. So the RAF decided that to fill the Blackhawk opportunity, it advised the MoD to revert the Chinook Mk3 to Mk2a and look at the Puma fleet with regards to a LEP (Life Extension Programme) replacing engines, cockpit display etc and give the frame 10 years more life at cost of £245 Million.

So this is where we are.

Potentially £245 Million for a Puma upgrade.
At least £363 Million for a Chinook reversion.
Lynx helicopters that cannot operate in hot and high climates.
Sea King helicopters fitted with carson blades operating near the edge of their flight envelope.
Puma helicopters that are now having their safety record questioned.
Gazelle helicopters that are, unless we use them as the French do as convoy scouts, obsolete.
Now a £1.7 Billion Lynx programme (62 helicopters) £27.4 Million per aircraft (training not included, spares not included, CADMID cycle not costed)

Although it pains me to say this it is not always the politicians fault. They can only go on the advice that they are given at the time. At the time of the unsolicited offer from Sikorsky it looks like the offer was turned down by the three services, the MoD, industry and then by the politicians.
It is a fact of political life that the politician has to balance the needs of the military against the needs of the constituent (voter) so the lobbyist (industry) has a say too.

Was there a military need to have more lift out in theatre? If the answer is yes it is not just the politicians that have let the troops down it is the 3 services too.

It is all very well going to Afghanistan and grandstanding and then coming back with a fantastic shopping list but that shopping list is 8 years old. It is nothing new. I believe Gen Dannatt is a fantastic leader and a courageous soldier however politics got the better of him and only now is he coming out of the other side. Why didn't he argue this 3 years ago? Was it because he was the Commandant of the AAC? Maybe?

Sometimes the needs on the ground are greater than the needs of the service or the TLB. Maybe only now, 8 years down the line people are beginning to see that.

It is all about mirrors - The ability to look in the mirror and say I did what I thought was right, not for the service or the lobbyist or the factory worker but for the young men and women who are out there day in day out serving their country as instruments of policy.


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:16 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:21 pm
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RAENORTH wrote:
gareth wrote:
I really don't get the unarmoured bomb disposal lorry. How is the threat to bomb disposal teams any less than in Bosnia?


Be fair! It has anti-riot shields to protect the windows against stone thowing. For £415,000 a pop, they got those with the free extras.


Probably threw in mats and flaps too...as additional footwell and wheel arch protection of course.


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:57 pm 
Gareth,
But the MoD ignored the recent history of IEDs from The Lebanon to Iraq. There is also fairly recent experience in Africa. There is nothing new here,the subject must be studied in Military institutions all over the world.Didn't anyone as the Israelis for example?


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:56 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:26 pm
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Location: Cornwall
Richard, I posted this in reply to your post "European Defence Co-operation", written on the 20th July. It might have some relevance.

On the subject of mine-protected/mine clearance vehicles, do you know whether any additions are being made to the vehicles already selected for the Talisman programme (Buffalo, Mastiff, HMEE)? Some equipments are as important as new helicopters. I think we could do with some Huskys and there was talk some time ago of a route clearance vehicle developed by Pearson Engineering, which was based on a combination of blade and roller. I have not heard about it recently and it might have been quietly dropped.

One every promising vehicle seems to be the Ranger PPV, now being developed by Universal Engineering of Weymouth. It has already been described in the press as “probably the best high-clearance mine-protected vehicle on the world market” and the there are assertions that it combines the payload (up to six tonnes) of a support vehicle, the mobility of a 4 x 4 Jackal and the protection of a Mastiff. Some claims! One report mentioned the possibility that it could replace the Mastiff (eventually?) as part of Project Talisman.


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:06 pm 
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I had a quick look at the Ranger ... could be interesting.

The Mastiffs can already be fitted with mine rollers ... as can any heavy vehicle. We do definitely need the Husky.

One addition they have made, also is the T-Hawk ...

http://www.honeywell.com/sites/aero/Sur ... BDECF7.htm

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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:16 pm 
Yes better EOD kit is a must. But what need are engineers so we can move across the Afghan moonscape as we want. If we weren't stuck to the roads there would be no chokepoints. We need an advance on all fronts approach...

I saw 11 Light Brigade on Al Beeb today. Mastiff 2s, Jackal 2s, and Vikings too. I heard helicopter on the soundtrack, but didn't see it. Do you think Al Beeb added to please their NuLabour masters? :)


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 Post subject: Re: We need more helicopters
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:29 am 
Your assessment of the realities of EOD operations in Afghanistan is strewn with ignorance and false assumptions Mr North. Campaign all you like, but please don't use the death of Captain Shepherd as a jumping off point.


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