Richard's article rightly emphasizes that there is more to winning wars than just
shooting more often & more effectively. However, 2 recent articles from the
Strategy Page website emphasize the severe shortages that Britain is facing with
helicopters. Frankly we have far too few choppers in Afghanistan - a viewpoint
that is constantly expressed by soldiers serving there.
But one of the main reasons for that is that, anyway, we have far too few
choppers in inventory, period. As far as I am aware, we have only acquired 10
new helicopters since the Iraq war broke out in early 2003. Four of these are
A109s that ministers & the top brass can zip around Britain & Europe in - but are
not available for use in the M/East. The other 6 are the 6 ex-Danish Merlins.
Frankly, the 8 initially non-operational Chinooks don't count as we had them
already - but weren't using them, because we couldn't make them work
properly, because of a botched procurement specifications process.
This tiny number of new choppers - ie 10 in 5 years despite fighting 2 tough
wars in Iraq & Afganistan - is despite the fact that most of the Chinooks, & all
the Pumas & Sea Kings are aging, & the near-clapped out Lynxes can only
operate safely in Afghanistan at night-time - because of the thinness of the air
Surely this is reason enough for more helicopter orders, for more Chinooks,
which can carry up to 54 soldiers (many more than Pumas, Sea Kings, & Lynxes
can), plus sufficient number of smallish (perhaps Lynx-size)
communications/casevac etc choppers that are "hot-&-high" capable - & are
sturdy & cheapish to operate.
However, the 2 Strategy Page articles draw attention to another problem, which
only makes the insufficient overall numbers of helicopters in Afgahnistan even
more disturbing. The hot & dusty conditions there are causing many choppers to
be sidelined, & some cannibalized, for parts - because of a general spare parts
shortage. Despite this, no emergency extra orders for spare helicopter parts
appear to have been made, nor extra orders made for Apache helicopters which,
according to the Strategy Page articles, are facing chronic problems of non-
availability due to the hot & dusty conditions in Afganistan. See:http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlog/ ... 80131.aspx
&http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlog/ ... 80310.aspx