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Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!
To think if the French hadn’t dragged out the programme with their usual aggressive workshare negotiations and trying to hang onto the SNECMA engines long past the point an alternative was clearly going to be required; then they (and everyone else) might have had A400Ms by now and thus could support this op with their own airlift capability.
I don’t know that I have ever seen any indication from the French that they care one iota about their overall defensive capability let alone the functionality of the equipment they produce in concert with other nations. Workshare, far from being an important issue, seems to be the only issue they ever care about. Outside of maintaining its nuclear deterrence I honestly get the impression that the French view their military almost wholly as a jobs program.
@ Jeremy M H
“I honestly get the impression that the French view their military almost wholly as a jobs program.”
indeed, Jeremy M H.
Why do I get the feeling that this is becoming a trend? Crusading around africa following groups… “europes doorstep” what about Libya?
Here we go again lads. Their president is determined this will take a ‘few weeks’. Lets hope so.
I would like to know this. Whose paying for the use of those C17′s.
Simon257, probably the UK as part of our ‘entente cordial’. I’d have thought that this would be an ideal situation for deploying Eurocopter Tigers.
I’m suprised Cameron didn’t offer a brace of Chinooks to help as well as the C17′s.
Any more news on the Gazelle that was hit/shot down?
Should we not be glad that a socialist president is showing some mettle, rather than viewing the Forces as an armed pension, RE
“I honestly get the impression that the French view their military almost wholly as a jobs program.”
Any force making the transition from conscription to a wholly volunteer force will have some slack, for some time, but the intervention end of the French forces is quite sharp… so they made that duality a fact within the force structure well ahead of us?
I did note in the NAO report that there was an increased cost item for AAR *due to the French not planning any more on using the capacity*
- I wonder if this will now change again
- the news reel showing AAR probably has nothing to do with the context, due to the fact that there is an extensive network of forward bases in that geography
3000 troops from W. African states to follow? Which state other than Nigeria has such numbers to contribute?
Re workshare.. I was reading some time ago that on the 50′s Madagascar (which was till a french colony had a squadrons of AD Skyraiders based on it that us to regularly take of and do sweeps of the Indian Ocean Northwards. The author commented what this possibly did for the defence of france even the pilots were unable to say.
A Gazelle helicopter pilot was killed in Mali (Lieutenant Boiteux R.I.P.).
In what is now named Operation Serval.
Having been shot, he brought back the machine and his observer/gunner to base before dying.
Our second C-17 has broken down in France:
ACC, Nigerian troops are one thing, Nigerian logistics are another. Do they have the capacity to airlift troops quickly to Mali or do they need our help in that, again via the C-17′s?
Military forces can charter civilian aircraft and just fly to where they want once overflight clearances and some cash have been obtained. You can even charter civilian STOL turboprops for dirtstrip operations.
There are – even in Africa – lots of international airports with long paved runways and good kerosene stocks. There are large cities like Dakar (3490 x 45 m), Conakry (3300×45 m) and Ouagadogou (3028 x 45 m) nearby.
Bamako’s (SW Mali) airport itself has 2706 x 45 m.
A for-charter Russian Il-76 has a runway requirement of about 1,800 m.
No government needs own strategic airlift for small logistical efforts like a Mali invasion.
Heres Sir Humphrey’s point of view:
Now if Mr Cameron were to raid the DfID budget for one or two more C-17s for the RAF.
Just picked up a copy of today’s Time’s. Apparently, through their ‘Unnamed Sources’. HMG are considering sending E3 Sentry, R1 Sentinel’s and Reaper Drones to the region.
Plenty of people were quick to moan that Europe wasn’t pulling it’s weight in Libya, were too reliant on the American’s and had to step up in the future as they repositioned themselves in the Pacific.
Now France shows some initiative in a region that is important to European security and the same people immediately talk of interventionism gone mad and an aggressive European agenda to assert authority over our continental neighbours.
Just no pleasing some people…
The other two sound fit for purpose, but is there enough of a target set to justify “considering sending E3 Sentry”?
On the other hand, I think it has been Mark and myself consistently saying that for any joint (as in int’l coalitions) operations the money best spent on our part is for the ISTAR fleet
“No government needs own strategic airlift for small logistical efforts like a Mali invasion.”
Hi ACE, all “UN -type” operations have been done on the back of someone else’s or (as S O points out)chartered logistics.
The thrust of my argument was that when anything needs doing in W. Africa, we have yet to see anyone else contributing in any meaningful sense than Nigeria (from within the area).
Even though semi-desert is probably not what they are used to/ trained for, perhaps it is politically easier to intervene somewhere else than in their own North?
Couple of things think it was the Germans who were insistent on the a400m power plant being European they wanted mtu involved.
Is there not some euro agency were they sort of buy and sell airlift capacity between the countries can’t remember what it’s called. Even saying that maybe the French help us out with a capability we don’t have and this is reciprocal.
Sending Istar a/c to these ops in Africa is as sensible as it comes they have there own troops they don’t have these capablities me think shadow r1 would be a gd fit here ( did I mention I liked the king airs before)
Mali, like Libya is a situation that calls for the UK to bring specialist resources to the table rather than troops on the ground or fighter-jets in the air which pretty much any other nation can and will provide.
Offer Sentry, Sentinel and Reapers in addition to the C17′s requested and go from there.
P.S It’s good to see France leading an operation and taking some initiative! Before Libya you could have been forgiven for thinking that the French only jumped on the band-wagon at the minute and reluctantly contributed fairly pitiful resources to US/UK led efforts.
@ Chally re France
France have been having little wars in Africa, well, forever. What is interesting is they have had to seek help. That means the scale on this occasion is beyond them. Hopefully they need help because they see that one more good push is needed to get it done as they have a clear plan of action with well defined objectives and not because they were being pushed back towards the brink of a disaster.
Mark, RE “Is there not some euro agency were they sort of buy and sell airlift capacity between the countries can’t remember what it’s called.”
I think there is two of them, though they are HQ’ed fairly close to each other, so the duplication is not as bad as it sounds
- the one with the big Antonovs just got extended for another 3 years (I guess this is back to back with the planes and the crews from Ukraine (?))
@Challenger: just assume those who were whining that Europe should do more actually wanted less to be done overall. I know this is probably not a surprise
Chally said “Plenty of people were quick to moan that Europe wasn’t pulling it’s weight in Libya, were too reliant on the American’s and had to step up in the future as they repositioned themselves in the Pacific.
Now France shows some initiative in a region that is important to European security and the same people immediately talk of interventionism gone mad and an aggressive European agenda to assert authority over our continental neighbours.”
Um. I am only quoting to save me going back up the page.
When you say Europe in Libya you mean the Germans. And I can understand why the Germans stayed out as it wasn’t their business. If it wasn’t for oil it wouldn’t have been our business anyway. France has vested interest in North African security one because the share a “sea border” so to speak. Two because they have a large Algerian population in metropolitan France. Go look at the fun the French are having keeping a lid on that mess. Mali is all about keeping Algeria stable so to keep France safe. So keeping Europe safe in the broadest of terms only. Note how iffy the Italians were over Libya and they are even closer. Now Nigeria is a slightly different issue. We mustn’t forget that a large part of the political message from No10 is about Europe. “Look we are helping France to keep Europe safe…” etc. etc. and so on. And with faint allusions that France will one day may return the favour. Perhaps before we consider Europe’s safety we should ask how many illegal immigrants troop across Europe to get to the UK? And then ask about “our” safety.
EDIT: Without France being bellicose about Libya I don’t think Call Me Dave would have done much. Double win really. He got to please the French and the oil companies.
I’m pretty impressed with the French on this one.
I’m similarly impressed that we are helping them with their logistical requirements. It’s a perfect political balance. We help, but at the same time, stay out.
One has to think this is an ideal way for the UK to contribute providing back end strategic assets that could only be provided by otherwise by the USA. It a shame that the RAF in particular is too focused on fast pointy things that everyone else has in droves rather than ISTAR, AAR and Strategic lift platforms that no one else in Europe has.
ACC, think the Russian Anatov company is Polet or something like that. We use it for military airlifts of heavy stuff to Australia annually for exercises.
‘It a shame that the RAF in particular is too focused on fast pointy things that everyone else has in droves rather than ISTAR, AAR and Strategic lift platforms that no one else in Europe has’
My view is that you need the whole range. Defence networks are like a jigsaw puzzle, they fit together to form a whole. If some pieces are missing, it won’t matter how high quality the rest of the jigsaw is, you still end up with a hole.
So ISTAR yes, but fast pointy things, yes too. As I mentioned elsewhere to px, you only say “good job” after the LGB or JDAM hits the enemy. All the info in the world is useless if you can’t reach that last step.
The fact that the raf has more aar transport and Istar Sqns than fast pointy Sqn operational is clearly lost on people.
I think Mali is a bit different than Libya in that I would guess one could fly close support in a Cessna if it had weapons on it. Libya is a fairly modern military at least when compared to Mali. I wanted to be clear though, I am not beating on France for taking action there. Don’t know enough about the situation to venture an opinion.
I just find it funny(more sad really) that they are sucking gas for transport capability because they (and others) farted around with the A400M mostly over workshare related issues to the point that France has basically no air transport capacity and certainly no meaningful strategic lifting capacity.
Squadrons mean jack! It says nothing about the number of airframes, the cash investment and the way different assets are prioritised over others.
And ultimately this is where UK defence is reaching the point of no longer being able to retain critical mass.
Because we are set up to provide “full-spectrum” warfighting, it has been decided that we need (for the RAF) various ISTAR and AAR assets to increase the effectiveness of the fast pointy things. The same applies for the Army where we retain pretty much the full range of enablers in CS and CSS against a backdrop of reducing armoured, mech and infantry units. Similarly for the navy we need AO, AFS, DD/FF and arguably SSN to enable the Strike and Amphib effect.
Given that the “kinetic effect” elements – fast jet weapons (either land or CV-based), boots on the ground (Army or RM) or naval presence (DD/FF) are the ultimate deliverable from military power, there needs to be a minimum level below which we can’t go without losing effectiveness. Trouble is, to keep these effective you need to fund the enablers, which start to take up more (proportionally) of the budget, which is when people start writing to the telegraph bemoaning the lack of ships / Inf batts / jets (delete as appropriate).
If you don’t fund the enablers, then you’re into the world of “someone else will do it”, which is where the whole argument usually assumes the US will provide. I’d like to think that this is the subject of serious thought in Whitehall atm, but given the financial position we’re in and the apparent impossibility of convincing HMT that defence is slightly more important than welfare (politics be damned for a minute), I’m not holding my breath.
S O, I was thinking purely in terms of the capability of the Nigerian Air Force, also I’m still naive enough to believe that a nation shouldn’t have to totally rely on civillian aircraft to support military operations, fool that I am.
Also, re: your statement that, “No government needs own strategic airlift for small logistical efforts like a Mali invasion.” I’d suggest that all first world powers should retain enough capbility to ‘at least’ support small logistical efforts like the Mali invasion.
A quick trawl of the internet shows the size and state of the Nigerian Air Force, despite having C-130′s and G.222′s very few are airworthy, something I believe is a wasted potential. As I’m sure they will a few more of these ops over the next few years helping and supporting the NAF and getting their kit back in the air would be a sound investment in the long term.
These things will sort themselves out in time, equipment and Mali situation both. We just have to be a bit patient.
Like the F-35.
The RAF, has also sent with the two C17′s. A RAF Regiment Force Protection Team. If you scroll down this Daily Mail article. Their is an internal shot of one of the C17′s which has been loaded with French Wheeled APC Ambulances. Picture also shows an RAF Regiment Officer, briefing RAF Regt Gunners.
Indeed challenger however over the last decade the raf/mod has either procured or funded. A400m, a330, c17, c130j, rivet joint, Astor, shadow, diamond, reaper, bae 146 and nimrod as well as significant new targeting and recon pods for the fast point fleet. And while a/c numbers are important there’s the unseen investment in targeting and exploration capability.
While at the same time reducing the fast jet fleet by around 50% including removing jaguar, harrier, f3 half the gr4 fleet and suspending the stand up of typhoon.
Not to mention most of the Istar transport Sqn are significantly bigger than fast jet ones and who’s aircraft the larger ones anyway are 2 or 3 times the price of a fast jet. When you also consider helicopter, fast jets have been well down the list but nab is right is hard to get the balance right but were doing a hell of a lot better than most others.
Heh-heh RE “The fact that the raf has more aar transport and Istar Sqns than fast pointy Sqn operational is clearly lost on people.”
- we got lost in the Bermuda triangle with these three sides
1. 107 or 160+ tiffies
2. 96 to 100+ Tornados, and
3. zero to 70 Harries (substitute 48 F-35s, before the number goes up and the triangle starts to crumble… and the discussion then catches up with all the rest)
RE “fast jets have been well down the list but nab is right is hard to get the balance right but were doing a hell of a lot better than most others”
- I have no problem with the French Rafales dropping the bombs and the rumoured three ISTAR assets sent in supporting (nor do I have a problem with the C-17s… and indeed I will be laughing into my non-existing beard if there is a request for AAR support.
-Atm, is it their assets or ours (in AAR) that are older;
-both are ancient, anyway
I agree we get the balance better than a lot of others I just think we could and should go further.
The RAF Regiment are going?
Holy shit that must mean there’s going to be an EFI that needs guarding which means boots on the ground and a FOB.
You heard it here first folks!
There’s about 110 typhoon in service now and about 90 tornado, as typhoon heads to 160, tornado will head to zero. F35 should be starting to come in as tornado goes.
the French have transall, and legacy herc and there aar are as old as vc-10 with no replacement ordered.
Challenger the only way to go further is to not buy the f35 at all and either stick with the 160 typhoon currently on order or perhaps add 15 a/c on the end and stick as an 8/9 sqn fast jet fleet of just typhoon.
Phil, won’t they need a C17 just for their shemaghs and Oakleys?
Thats probably the one that broke down, overloaded
Who fancies winding up the Phoenix Think Tank by writing a piece about how useful naval air from carriers would be for this operation?
Don’t tempt me Hannay!
They must be apoplectic another intervention more than 100nm from the sea!!
They’ll be demanding hercules aircraft can fly from the carrier to resupply the troops.
Now is the time for a well-defined, clear cut, surgical and over the beach intervention.
I predict that the UK Expeditionary Force will achieve utter victory at precisely 19:48 on 29 Jan 2013 having met 23 of its 23 “Exit Outputs” including the destruction of the enemy leaders Widescreen TV thus convincing him that further resistance was simply not worth it.
Isn’t Hollande off to the U.A.E. to try and drum up an order for Rafale?
Now that’s handy
I see the Voyager as a VC10 replacement & the C-17 as a Tristar replacement. As we had 9 Tristars, why not raid the DfID budget to buy another C-17?
Except they’re not.
Voyager replaces both VC10 and Tristar.
C17 is a whole new capability – the sort we haven’t had since the Belslow.
You can’t raid DfID anyway. They’ve lined up a whole raft of transgender co-ordinators and lesbian rights facilitators to send to Afghanistan instead of troops. The insurance bills are eye-watering…..
I am taking the names of anybody posting any anti-maritime macaroni.
Just to cheer you Pongos up. Just think how many medals the Rock Apes have probably earned on and how many war stories have been generated by their less than 4 day old “campaign”. They probably have already accrued more than the whole Army has done in Afghanistan. Just sayin’.
Do not forget the £5000 per hour paid by DfID to friends of Tony Blair as development consultancy fees.
We’re all still trying to live down the Battle for Bastion.
Expect a Typhoon expedition to somewhere warm and African
@ TD re Typhoon expedition
Do we have an SSN spare to TLAM the AAA the Mali rebels may or may not have?
Have they passed the medals out at RAF High Wycombe yet?
Are you on red alert yet? I suppose that would mean changing the light bulb for red one. And I bet their Air Vice Marshall who changes light bulbs is on a long weekend….
@X – Mali is landlocked; you know the rules, no coastline, no naval intervention.
The typhoons will only deploy if there’s a five star hotel nearby!
With a Michelin star restaurant.
Laico Hotel L’Amitie Bamako
You didn’t have to provide security CCTV footage from the Think Defence Bunker. A simple yes or no would have done.
So that’s what Sir “H” looks like
“Also, re: your statement that, “No government needs own strategic airlift for small logistical efforts like a Mali invasion.” I’d suggest that all first world powers should retain enough capbility to ‘at least’ support small logistical efforts like the Mali invasion.”
Why? Small interventions are non-essential, the log capacity for a small intervention is going to be drowned in requirements of a big war and you can do small interventions nicely with chartered aircraft unless you need to combat jump into a zone with air defences.
Small interventions are the least reasonable excuse for spending 100+ million bucks a year on having a few transport aircraft with camouflage.
Some harsh comments on this thread! You can hardly criticise the French for taking a lead and asking for help. @Simon257 asked about who is paying for the C17 use. There is a NATO barter system already worked out and our C17s are already heavily used by the European’s already (see NAO report). Frankly I imagine we will continue to use AAR refueling from our allies as the Voyager is half-baked. It is good to help, and better still that we are finally getting off our own arses and leading rather than timidly and scrounging off the Americans.
As there are two numbers reserved for C17s lets hope an order is placed before the production line shuts 10 is a nice round number. Even if France did have its shiny new Atlas/A400Ms I find it hard to believe the C17s wouldn’t still be the real deal. Shame we can’t sell them AAR …… apparently there is no breach of contract even though the bl88dy things won’t refuel – well unless you want a Avgas shower.
The Canadian Government has also decided to help out by the looks of it.
Is that Ace Rimmer? with Sir H that is?
SO said “you can do small interventions nicely with chartered aircraft”
“Hello is that company with all those Antonovs? It is? Good. Can we book a heavy lifter or two for about 8 months, perhaps 9 months hence? What do you mean you need precise dates? We can’t give precise dates as it is an emergency. Where? How do we know where?”
What stops small wars becoming big wars is getting their quickly. Heck it may stop a war. That is why country’s need lift, in this case aeroplanes. It is like a having a really great car then having to hire wheels if you want to drive it anywhere.
S O, I don’t buy it. Could you mount an Entebbe style raid using charter aircraft to capture a key airfield deep in enemy territory? What about long range ops that require AAR, or para drops/aerial supply over hostile territory? What about aircraft requiring extensive self-defence systems, are charter aircraft routinely fitted with chaff and flare dispensers? What about opsec?
It’s not just about having a few camoflagued aircraft, its about having the military and political flexibility to perform operations without having to rely on a third (civillian) party.
The typhoons will only deploy if there’s a five star hotel nearby! with a Michelin star restaurant
Surely the French can sort that out, if anybody can:-)
Alex, I can remember when sleeping in the back of a Bedford 4 Tonner was considered the height of luxury! How times have changed…..
Phil, you are our resident rations expert, do they still have a few Gauloise in the packs or did that end decades ago?
Details of French ration packs here: http://www.defense.gouv.fr/terre/equipements/materiel-individuel-et-alimentation Chewing gum, yes, cigs, no.
Been pretty funny to read the comments, especially X throwing a wobbly because there’s “no Naval involvement”.
Jesting aside, as has been mentioned on here – mission creep is probs the main issue I’m thinking about here.
On another thread, a few months ago, I mentioned moving armour by air in an emergency. I was pooh poohed for it. What are the French moving in RAF C-17s to Mali?
And are they supporting that kit entirely from an air bridge? I doubt it seeing as French forces have moved into Mali overland now too.
13 ton VAB APCs delivered by RAF C-17.
The one which had a flat tyre moved, Trucks and VAB Wheeled APC Ambulances. And the second one was shown with supplies on it.
The French have sent a convoy in from the Ivory Coast. Apparently it has a number of Armoured Vehicles including Tank’s with it.
This YouTube Video was posted on Defence Industry Daily. It’s a collection of Channel 4 News Reports from last year taken in Mali. It’s about 15 minutes long.
“Phil, you are our resident rations expert, do they still have a few Gauloise in the packs…”
We are sending a 50 man Detachment as part of a EU Training Team to Mali.
They’re using Antonovs as well:
Here’s a British Forces News report of a RAF C17 mission to Mali.
Nice photo of a Rafale on its way to Mali from Chad. Clearly, stealth is not a concern:
The French have released a short video of Airstrikes.
Additional assets heading out
“…we have now decided to deploy Sentinel, a surveillance capability that has proved its worth in Libya and on an ongoing basis for counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan.” – Remind me again when we’re scrapping Sentinel?
… another COIN? Oh dear…
Wired.com (of today)points out how high-tech the war is even in the bush
“French air controllers, which in the U.S. are considered special operations forces, have also coordinated the aerial bombardment, helping fighter pilots spot targets on the ground.
These “Tactical Air Control Parties,” as they’re known, are a relatively new specialty for the French. “Since 2001, a lot of progress has been made in terms of TACP development, training and equipment,” Henrotin says. Four years ago, Paris acquired its first handheld Remote Video Terminals that allow ground troops to exchange video directly with drones and pilots in the air.”
Looks like the reporting on Mali runs on the same lines as Afghanistan (UK involvement in Helmand, therefore only Helmand in the news, barring anything extraordinary).
The latest by wired.com “In the first phase of the air war starting Jan. 11, French Gazelle and Tiger helicopters and Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter-bombers based in Mali, Chad and France pounded rebel ground forces, supply lines and command infrastructure, while two French Harfang drones spotted targets.
French KC-135 tankers refueled the fighters as French, British, Canadian, Belgian and Danish and chartered Ukrainian cargo planes hauled reinforcements, armored vehicles and supplies into Bamako, Mali’s capital.
The more intensive second phase of the aerial campaign around a week later saw the U.S. offer up C-17 transports. The Nigerians added transports, Hind helicopter gunships and a pair of Alpha Jet light bombers. Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands and the UAE joined the airlift effort and Italy sent a KC-767 tanker to boost the French KC-135s.
But the most striking additions were the spy planes, demand for which is apparently increasing fast. The French deployed to Senegal five Atlantique II naval patrol planes, which are optimized for hunting ships and subs but can also use their video cameras to spot land targets. And the British Royal Air Force has committed one of its five Sentinels, business jets fitted with powerful underslung radars for simultaneously tracking scores of ground targets.”
If France hand;t dragged out the contract fight with the A-400M, they would have gotten a Strategic Airlift Aircraft by now. Now it shows that France has an Airlift issue and it now shows that France needs a dedicated Strategic Airlift Aircraft such as the C-17. If the A-400M is giving them problems, they could have gone to the US and buy some C-17′s for their fleet as well.
The French have an obsession with producing and buying home-grown kit no matter how complex and expensive, hence why the C17 probably never got a look in.
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