there is no shortage of helicopters in theatre to support current operations. The prime minister is right on this.
Now that the US cavalry has at last arrived in Helmand, there probably are now enough choppers available. But there were not
until very recently while Britain was fully in charge. And that's where the disgrace is. If we were part if a bigger group but few in numbers ourselves then we could quite reasonably look to others to provide the majority of the kit. But if we are the majority & take charge (as we are & have in Helmand), then we are the ones who should be doing it properly - as well in fact as anyone, Briton or non-Briton, can do it.
Previously there may have been enough Chinooks (just), backed by a rather meagre supply of Apaches & a few rather make-shift Sea Kings. The original Lynxes, filling up the light helicopter category, were far too few to do all the liaison work (for both our senior staff & friendly local Afghan leadership who we naturally don't want killed on the ground when they need to move around for war-planning & administrative meetings etc), our own small section troop movements & their re-supply tasks, ground vehicle & convoy escort, & medevac etc etc. There were too few even if the aircraft had worked in Afghanistan's "hot-&-high" environment. There were effectively none available during the day as the Lynxes could only work in Afghanistan at night. Let's hope the 22 (plus another 15 odd I think it is) Lynxes which are being re-worked now to enable them to manage Afghanistan properly will be at last be able to do so, & that a reasonable number of them will then be sent to operate there. But if they can't do what's required of them, then we need to buy or lease some Hueys or Blackhawks to do this work. Urgently!
Whatever the PM may say, it's a very poor situation that the 8 re-engineered Chinooks & 6 ex-Danish Merlins should be taking so long to be ready for Afghanistan. That is reason enough for other aircraft, eg the 20 MVTs & the 12 ex-UAE Pumas, to have been acquired or leased to fill helicopter numbers gaps in Afghanistan until these 14 Chinooks & Merlins (or other similar types of choppers) were at last ready.
It seems that "the enemy" (which may not only
be the Taliban) did not want us to make up our deficient helicopter numbers, & left our inadequate numbers of aircraft unchallenged until increased numbers at last became a likelihood. Then suddenly we have these 5 recent low-flying accidents: a Canadian Griffon, a Ukrainian-crewed civilian chopper, a US Strike Eagle, & another civilian helicopter & a UK Tornado on successive days at Kandahar! Either a new non-shoot type weapon has reached the Taliban (unlikely, unless the Pakistan SIS has supplied them, but why hasn't it been used by the Taliban in western Pakistan then?). Or is it in the hands of allies of the West's old enemy, paying us back for Georgia! Chechens (from the Pro-Russian governing group) maybe - mascarading perhaps as Taliban? Watchet