A Quick Comparison of Helicopter Lift

By Jed

TD recently did his article on the future of the rotary wing fleet.

We have had a few pre-SDSR and post-SDSR conversations about the future of the rotary fleet in the comments section of various articles.

Based on some of these comments I thought it might just be interesting to do a very quick comparison of statistics for some of the aircraft types discussed, either from the manufacturers sites, or Wikipedia.

As such some of this data is “approximate” for example Wikipedia seems to use the maximum take off or emergency power rating for engines. That for the Merlin and Chinook are definitely maximum continuous rating, not so sure about the others.

As you can see data points for various aircraft are empty, because my quick Saturday afternoon search could not find the information – if you have it, or know a source, please let us know in the comments and we can amend the table

 

AW139M Puma AW149 Cougar UH60L EC725 Caracal NH90 Merlin Chinook (CH47F)
Length (Nose to tail rotor) 13.97 14.6 15.53 15.43 16.79 16.13 19.53 15.9
Length (Rotors Turning) 16.66 18.15 17.57 19.76 19.5 19.56 22.85 30.18
Length (Folded)
Width 2.26 2.55 2.36 2
Width (Rotors Turning)
Width (Folded)
Main Rotor Diameter 13.8 15 14.8 15.6 16.36 16.2 16.2 18.6 18.29
Engines 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 2
Total Power (SHP) 3062 3150 3960 3178 2820 3740 4460 6123 7058
Weight Empty 3536 4350 4819 5330 6400 10500
Max Takeoff Weight 6800 7000 8600 9000 10600 11000 10600 15600 22680
Max Payload (Internal) 2570 5670 4200 6000 10886
Max Payload (External)
Max Passenger (Fully Equipped) 10 16 12 20 11 29 20 27 33
Max Passenger (Lightly Equipped) 14 26 20 11 16 20 40 55
Cabin Length 3 5.69 6.5 9.29
Cabin Width 2.26 1.8 2.49 2.29
Rear Ramp (H x W) 1.95 x 2.25
Large side door 1.8 x 1.45 1.8 x 1.55

 

Of course nothing is ever simple, and a lot of the conversations have been based around troop lift capacity. As Gabriele pointed out, the AW101 brochure (PDF) is very open about the seating arrangements that are possible and the standard arrangement in ‘crash worthy’ troop seats of 27 men, includes seats arrayed so that the starboard side trooping door is unusable. Not a problem in my opinion, the Chinook for example does not have side doors either. On the other hand I can’t find any thing that the figure of 33 for the Chinook suggests this is in crash worthy seating, but extrapolation would suggest it is.

For the Eurocopter EC725 Caracel, the available PDF is clear that 29 troops can be seated in the cabin, but that drops to 20 with wall mounted crash worthy seats, and if you want to use the large front opening windows for side gunners, that drops to 16. Similarly the workhorse of the US Army can seat 14, but more usual is a standard US Army squad of 11, plus two side window gunners.

At the lower end, the AW literature for the AW139M and AW149 talks about Fully Equipped (FE) troops, with support weapons (GPMG’s and LAWS?) or Lightly Equipped (LE) which I take as personal weapons and ‘fighting order’. Our venerable Puma’s seat 16, but I don’t think these are in crash worthy seats anyway, and I have not looked up figures for the refitted Pumas, but stuck with HC1.

I could not find any figures at all ref the seating details for the Mil Mi-17-1V, which fits squarely between the NH90 and the EH101 based on empty weight, it just says “30 troops” and I have the feeling that’s not in crash worthy seating.

So, there you are team, so figures to play with when disputing what our machines can manage to do.

Oh, and just in case, although I am sure you would never forget, just because a brochure gives a maximum number (for example the 40 you can cram into a Merlin) – that won’t be on a 35 deg C “hot” day at high altitude in Afghanistan.

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Wstr
Wstr
April 24, 2011 12:24 pm

Chinook (CH47F): Max passengers in special ‘you have to buy me dinner first’ configuration – 80+ (paras ’82; Iraqi POWs ’91) :)

Wstr
Wstr
April 24, 2011 5:05 pm

Good summary table by the way useful to compare side-by-side instead of tabbing between wiki pages.
I’ve got the NH90 cabin-only dimensions written down in a spreadsheet (don’t ask) as 4.10×2.0x1.58 (LxWxH with 1.82H Swedish) although I can’t remember where I got that from.

Xxx
Xxx
April 24, 2011 5:15 pm

CH-47 does not use “crash worthy” seating but just like the puma the record speaks for itself! There have been no fatalities due to poor seating in any of the puma crashes of 2007.
It’s easy to get caught up in this business of “crash worthy” seating but reference previous posts troops don’t like the configuration of having to use 5 or 4 point harnesses as it takes time strapping in and out, a simple lap strap design works best. Be careful of using brochure information which is what quite often ends up on this site.
Gentleman please stop defending the indefensible! Wildcat and Merlin (mk3 only) are not good battlefield helicopters, the Merlin is a good heli-liner and nothing else (apart from naval versions)

Wstr
Wstr
April 24, 2011 5:16 pm

Belay that last. Airforce Tech website is reporting cabin length as 4.8m all other dimensions the same.

x
x
April 24, 2011 8:01 pm

16pax is OK seeing as the army seem to like the “multiple.”

Gabriele
Gabriele
April 24, 2011 8:16 pm

Cost factor would be interesting to factor in, too, but i for one know how difficult it is to find reliable sources for costs of military hardware, since i tried many times!

However, for example, the myth of cheap 8-millions Blackhawks is gone to hell with the turk deal:
109 Blackhawks at 3.5 billion dollars, or a good 32 millions each, four times as much as reported in that sorry example of absurd press-feed westland-bashing which sold the public the myth of cheap blackhawks. And this is before any cost overgrown/delay happens.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/21/sikorsky-turkey-idUSLDE73K1EM20110421

Gabriele
Gabriele
April 24, 2011 8:20 pm

Oh, and by the way, good work Jed!

and @Wstr

Chinooks can fit a lot of standing people indeed, but we should remember that you can squeeze more standing people in any other airframe as well.
Sure, Chinook still offers advantages, but that is expected.
It is a brilliant design, with a fuselage which exploits very well all its lenght.

You also pay for that on size and costs, however. I’m all in favor of more Chinooks (and gods know that folding rotors would be handy too), but we still need other kind of choppers too.

Euan
Euan
April 24, 2011 8:25 pm

The Turkish deal includes a large domestic industrial workshare so that complicates things further and just to complicate things even more the Swedish are getting 15 for around $51M each IIRC. The Swedes however will probably include a massive sensible spares, support and training package because they tend to have their heads screwed on properly. The UAE or someone else also ordered some blackhawks for a similar price although i think they were the battlehawk varaint with all the toys.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 24, 2011 8:49 pm

I see the Dutch are still doing suicidal defence cuts. They are selling off 14 “son of Puma” whatever they are called now.
If Whitehall was awake, a chance to buy 14 decent helicopters cheap. So no chance of that then.

x
x
April 24, 2011 9:10 pm

In Feb according to AFM the US military bought two Blackhawks for a total of $22.7million (so $11.35mil each.)

And then in March another order was placed for $129 million for Hawks in 4 varieties for the US Army and USN. No details of how many of each variant was to be purchased. One of each would match Gabby’s Turkish figures (approximately,) but I bet the US are getting about 10 airframes. Considering the world is in recession Sikorsky must be doing OK…….

This is to be contrasted with Bell who offering a paramilitary version of the 407 for a starting price of $5million to which all sorts of fun stuff can be added like FLIR, armoured seats, sliding doors (yes sliding doors!!) and all sorts of weapons. I bet a well spec’ed 407 wouldn’t come close to $10million.

Apparently the wrinkle is these aren’t being offered as armed aircraft so avoid US Foreign Military Sales system, doesn’t come under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and so can be sold directly to customers……

(I wrote a very boring paper once on SALW proliferation and I spent an age, ok and afternoon, trawling through ITAR. All good clean fun. Yawn……)

Euan
Euan
April 24, 2011 9:47 pm

The UK Military realigning its support helicopter fleet to use Puma derivatives that just makes too much sense and would perhaps be a political hot potato. Especially if those airframes are second hand and old enough to claim their pension when they retire mind you that would be an excellent example to folk. There would also be the big problem that none of this would keep the boys at Westland in work and I doubt 62 FLynx will keep them occupied very long or at least it shouldn’t or the factory is a waste of time.

Although a fleet of Puma and second hand Super Puma for land support helicopters with new EC725 for Civilian/Combat SAR as well as CHF replacements does make some sense because we have an active upgrade line in Romania. However the idea of the UK Armed Forces belonging to the 6th largest global economy with arguably a large defence budget scraping together a fleet of ancient and second hand airframes just seems sickening.

x
x
April 24, 2011 9:59 pm

It makes me wonder how Third World countries operate their helicopter fleets. It seems the UK isn’t big enough to play at being mini-US. But not small enough to not feel guilty about buying helicopters that do the job. We seem to be caught in the middle. In a limbo where we must buy the best, can’t afford them, and exacerbate the problem buying fiddling about with them which then requires extra testing that costs more money adding some minor questionable capability. (Yes MoD SF Chinnook buying team I am looking at you!)

Myanmar has bought 12 Mi35; a rather large and not so simple helicopter. If a Third World country can buy good simple helicopters why can’t we……..

Gabriele
Gabriele
April 24, 2011 10:14 pm

@TD

I know you did TD, and it was very correct of you to do so and overall admirable!

Fact is that the 8 million figure was on the major press more than once, and i’m not aware of them ever admitting their “error”.
That was deeply unfair, and it caused a lot of bashing on the MOD (and on Westland) which truly had (and has) little reason to exist.
That article created a “monster” which no one quite managed to slain so far. Is to them that goes my rage.

Euan
Euan
April 24, 2011 10:41 pm

X, other nations like us for instance France, Germany, Italy all are involved in the NH-90 and have had support helicopter fleets of Puma derivatives or in the case of Italy AB-412’s. We just seem to make a complete arse of it for many reasons and it ends up costing far more blood and treasure but never gets sorted out. I agree with your point about third world countries they buy helicopters, mainly tough Russian/Soviet designs, and seem to in the most part operate them without as much of a mess. Even South Africa which is somewhere in the middle managed to produce and support the Oryx and Rooivalk domestically. Perhaps a better example as they actually utilise their aircraft a bit more, that I know of, than the third world countries that buy a number of Russian designs but only have a few working.

It just pisses me off with the politically dicking about we could buy what Westland’s produce and have a decent helicopter fleet. We could have bought UH-60’s almost a decade ago and have an active production line up and running in Yeovil Sikorksy was happy to do that as they had done many times in the past. Failing that we should or could have at any point in the last decade produced a large number of Merlin off the active line, now probably shutdown, driving down the flyaway unit cost. Hell we could have even done what the Italians now plan to do and build Chinooks domestically keeping the idiots happy although the cost might be horrendous compared to a straight buy from Boeing. Admittedly Building designs under license might be a bit more difficult now it’s Augusta Westland but Boeing are allowing CH-47F’s to be built in Italy and AW are not really direct competitors with Sikorksy IMHO. Then there is also the mess that we now call Wildcat, what was so wrong with the Super Lynx 300 that necessitated re-designing an almost new aircraft at not insignificant cost to the Taxpayer? The effort that has gone into the re-design could have been directed at a spinoff of the AW-139 essentially the AW-149.

Vent over with for now…. Sorry about that :|

Serious Question, how many aircraft do we think a place like Yeovil realistically needs to produce for it to be considered a viable production location. AFAIK Yeovil only produces Lynx for any export customers and that’s about it.

Jan Guest
Jan Guest
April 24, 2011 11:05 pm

The point about both Merlin and Wildcat is not that they are bad aircraft but whether they fitted the UK’s needs at the time they were procured. Merlin is a great ASW helicopter but was it affordable enough that we could make it our only ASW/ASuW shipboard helicopter? Obviously not as we didn’t do it. Was it sensible for the FAA to operate 2 or even 3 (At the time Merlin HM1 Lynx HAS3 & HMA8) types of shipboard helicopter in this role? To keep long-term cost of ownership low obviously not.

Similarly was it sensible to only purchase 28 troop carrier variants and not replace the Commando Sea Kings and Pumas too? Possibly even some of the older Chinooks as well, due to Merlin’s relatively large size and capability. But with none of these efficiency savings realised for whatever reason, there are too many fleets and not enough spares is an indicator that the costs of this have taken their toll. Merlin might have been a great aircraft but if the costs of procuring it over something like the dreaded Blackhawks was the difference between have one fleet of aircraft well supplied with spares and with good availability rates and 3 (at least) without either of the above then was it really worth it? Merlin is possibly to good for its own good, being so large and capable that it is too expensive to acquire in sufficient numbers to be the core medium helicopter, serving shipboard and battlefield utility roles, and yet not large enough to be a genuine Chinook/CH-53 replacement.

Similarly Wildcat may do lots of things well but I don’t see the particular need for it. With surface combatant numbers dropping through the floor why not upgrade all the Merlin HM1s to HM2 standard, cancel Wildcat and finally get a one type fleet for ASW? As to the battlefield version I don’t really get what advantages it has over the AH9A? If we need a new airframe in this role it also seem very expensive compared to other options.

Mark
Mark
April 24, 2011 11:15 pm

We are now I believe too late to get either the chinook or blackhawk in final line in the UK any european chinooks will come from Italy and any blackhawks most likely from poland.
The wildcat significantly reduced the part count in the a/c now you can argue about the benefits of that but it is supposed to increase serviceability. As for the production line to be realistic and efficient you would probably need to get to about 100 a/c per year.

My problem with the MI a/c ect is this. To be acceptable in a western army these a/c will require self defence systems and modern avionics ect this is were the cost is and we cannot get away from that.

We have a issue with our helicopter fleet that need storing. We need 4 types apache and wildcat will do the light recon attack ect. All the other tasks from heavy civil sar asw ect can be preformed with 2 types but we need to pick them. We must maximise numbers across the services as much as possible. The chinook upgrade were doing is 1 step short of a nonsence were still going to have 4 mini fleets within a fleet we either bring them all to the same standard or scrap the lot. Maybe ch53 is a better option for all the other roles outside heavy we need to choice a platfrom and start building it either merlin or nh-90 or blackhawk (puma should be scraped as well).(ino this crosses over with the other thread sorry)

Euan
Euan
April 25, 2011 12:12 am

Mark I agree if we went for Chinook or Blackhawk the viability of them being built in the UK is well and truly gone with 2 active European Blackhawk lines and a Chinook line in Italy that is already active or about to be so. However as we all know never rule out the lunacy of politicians and Unions so we could probably get a line in the UK if we really pushed for and were willing to pay for it. We could perhaps get cheaper Blackhawks by playing the UH-60, S-70 and T-70 against each other to see who could give us the best deal.

I know the Wildcat has a reduced part count as well as the benefits of a composite airframe, some would argue drawbacks as well, which help reduce what is probably the biggest lifetime cost man-hours. However I don’t know if it is really worth all the money and brainpower that was ploughed into it as the electronics and dynamic systems could have been integrated onto the Super Lynx airframe. To be through I could point out that we could have got rid of Lynx altogether and replaced it with NH-90 which although odd operating with Merlin is exactly what the Italians are doing and we could have bumped Merlin HM.2 onto the Carriers and larger vessels such as RFA’s.

As for production line viability I’m wondering because AW have made it clear in the past that they would rather move production/assembly elsewhere because Yeovil is not really economically viable for them. The arrangement I could see as viable is Yeovil producing components and spares for the AW family and acting as a support hub for UK based aircraft with all the assembly work going to Verigate or one of the other Italian locations. I just can’t see the viability of keeping flight testing and assembly resources at Yeovil when from what I can guess they are hardly utilised.

Anyhow from the current and projected helicopter picture up to and beyond 2020 there is nothing we can do that would avoid adding additional types or binning aircraft that are still relatively young or that have not just had major work done on them.

ChrisM
ChrisM
April 25, 2011 10:32 am

I am a free marketeer and dislike nationalised industries, but the defence industry is not a normal market, and BAE etc have ballsed up their chance – which leads me to this recurring notion:

Nationalise key monopolistic defence factories (Westland in Yeovil, the sub yard in Barrow etc) so that they are supplier agnostic. Surely we are still a big enough customer that we can tell the suppliers that we want their product, but they have to lease the government facility to produce them (and I mean produce,not just assemble) or get someone like SERCO to run the factory for them – a sort of factory franchise/concession?
We get to choose the best kit, but keep the manufacturing jobs and knowledge, and probably keep parts suppliers in UK as well. Also it would open up the UK defence industry to more innovation from small technology/design centred companies, as they wouldnt have to raise the capital for a factory or go begging to the big boys for partnership deals.
If the world goes utterly tits up then we could ignore the licencing niceties and have the ability to build what we like.

A different Gareth
A different Gareth
April 25, 2011 12:30 pm

Xxx said: “Gentleman please stop defending the indefensible! Wildcat and Merlin (mk3 only) are not good battlefield helicopters, the Merlin is a good heli-liner and nothing else (apart from naval versions)”

I sometimes wonder whether the Merlin airframe would make a good heavy gunship.

How about going the other way too – take an Apache airframe but build a light helicopter out of it of a size similar to the Lynx. The AAC would then have more commonality and a chopper with an excess of power. Folding rotors would suit the Navy too.

Jan Guest
Jan Guest
April 25, 2011 1:07 pm

@ ChrisM I think you have a point – if we need to keep this industrial capacity in the UK and they only effectively do work for the UK government then they a private in name only. Public control might allow the MoD better control over production cycles to keep costs more stable eg. its in Bae’s interest to build the Astutes in a batch and then close the plant when there is no more work but in the UK govs interest to build one SSN every 3 years and incrementally update the technology so there are no cost peaks (commonality less important with 6 highly specialised SSNs). I’m not sure that helicopters are vital to have as a sovereign manufacturing capability but it doesn’t seem like Westlands builds many a/c for export – the Italians seem to have effectively cornered all that work so why not get them to simply build what the MoD wants at the required frequency.

Gabriele
Gabriele
April 25, 2011 2:08 pm

Westland was going to build in the UK the other Chinooks that made up the original Labour-planned buy.
Now this is down to 14 helos (2 replacement for afghanistan lossess, 12 additional) and they will be Boeing-built and the first won’t come until 2013 or very possibly 2014.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 25, 2011 2:24 pm

Hi ChrisM, couldn’t agree more:
“Nationalise key monopolistic defence factories (Westland in Yeovil, the sub yard in Barrow etc) so that they are supplier agnostic. Surely we are still a big enough customer that we can tell the suppliers that we want their product, but they have to lease the government facility to produce them (and I mean produce,not just assemble) or get someone like SERCO to run the factory for them – a sort of factory franchise/concession?
We get to choose the best kit, but keep the manufacturing jobs and knowledge, and probably keep parts suppliers in UK as well. Also it would open up the UK defence industry to more innovation from small technology/design centred companies, as they wouldnt have to raise the capital for a factory or go begging to the big boys for partnership deals”
– at times, there is a total misunderstanding of how free market works, the other example is the railways( natural monopolilis, they can’t walk even if owned by ‘bloody foreigners’ but introducing ‘competition’has just strengthened the monopolistic behaviours)

Mark
Mark
April 25, 2011 2:24 pm

I thought most uk helicopter upkeep was done at fleetlands. Would it be such a bad thing now if the main servicing was down at each of the main operating bases of the helicopter types. It has helped with the fj fleets. Some capabilities need to be kept in uk like ssns but I don’t think helicopter design and final line is one as most of our current types are overseas ones and we don’t have a design to break into a very crowded Market

McZ
McZ
April 25, 2011 5:59 pm

“To be through I could point out that we could have got rid of Lynx altogether and replaced it with NH-90 which although odd operating with Merlin is exactly what the Italians are doing and we could have bumped Merlin HM.2 onto the Carriers and larger vessels such as RFA’s.”

Are any NFH-version birds delivered to the MM by now?

Btw, the flight hour cost of the NH90 should be 50% above that of a Wildcat (calculated through fuel consumption, personnell, spareparts). For zero additional capability. So, in a conceived hi-lo mix, it is no valid lo-option.

x
x
April 25, 2011 7:16 pm

@ Euan

You rant away mate if makes you feel better.

Um. We can’t afford many helicopters so I think we have to get away from the idea of heliborne warfare a la Nam. Helicopters (lets leave AH and ASW to one side) in the UK are for liaison, observation, and as logistical assets (either from ship or air head.) We need Chinnook on land, Merlins from the sea (because they can be folded,) and something cheap, cheerful and small for the other stuff. Blackhawk as good as it is too big for liaison and not big enough for the logistics. If we can rejig Lynx (without ending up in a Nimrod situation) then lets re-jig Lynx. If not lets get something else. I mentioned the Bell above as something cheap and cheerful. Or we could go European as the US Army have done and buy Eurocopter EC145 (Lakota.) Actually that programme is good example of how things should be done. Similarly NH90 is too close to Merlin so why bother?

x
x
April 25, 2011 7:24 pm

@ Jan re BAE and SSNs

As you are aware SSNs are special and can’t really be lumped in with other programmes. I know how much BAE is invested in Barrow and I would say the opposite of what you say is probably true, they need to keep Barrow in work. BAE (and a surprisingly huge number of sub-contractors) would loose too much.

Euan
Euan
April 25, 2011 8:30 pm

ChirsM I’m probably less of a free marketer than most although I’m no idiot and can see the problems with state controlled businesses and the problems with the free market so as always there is a middle ground to be found.

If you’ve been around here for a while you’ll have noticed I’ve also suggested nationalising Yeovil to become a Government Aircraft factory so we can simply buy in the design we need from any of the major suppliers. Furthermore with the work share now mandated in most procurement decisions worldwide producing a high percentage of the aircraft from scratch in the UK should be more than feasible. However to be clever I would also try and keep a ‘design house’ going to ensure we maintain the skills to solve problems perhaps like BMT DSL with their naval design and problem solving. This would help provide some insulation for the times when the leadership goes off on a tangent and gets us into political trouble and spares are held back although pissing off both the EU and USA should be rare.

McZ I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on the NH-90 and to be honest I’m unsure of it for various reasons but it still is the biggest new helicopter program out there. One thought I’ve had about the HC.3 and 3A’s is to just use them on RFA’s as is just build nice big hangars for them because as someone pointed out on here a hangar is just a steel shed. Either that or bump them into the SAR role if that is kept within the Military domain (Paramilitary Coastguard please).

X, thanks :) sometimes we just need to have a wee rant
Back to Helicopters I think the AW-149 fits nicely for the UK it’s 2 tons below the Blackhawk and 2.5 tons above the Lynx or if that’s still a bit too big then we can go for the AW-139M. I would think that the EC-145 would suffer from the problem that Lynx has, once you add a competent DAS and other goodies it’s too small to be useful.

Chris.B.
April 25, 2011 9:02 pm

I’m in favour of privatisation, but with a caveat; you need to keep an eye on those companies.

Simply handing over the keys with no proper oversight is not acceptable.

Of course at the other end of the spectrum is making sure the government doesn’t have too much control.

x
x
April 25, 2011 9:34 pm

It is the small end of the helicopter market I find confusing. There seems to be lots of models with lots of overlap in performance, pax, and cargo specs. Since my last comment I think Lynx should be moved wholesale to the FAA. And a new model bought for the AAC. So that would be RAF gets the Chinook, FAA gets Merlin and Lynx, and Army gets a new 6pax,10pax or whatever liaison/observation platform/lightly armed airframe.

@ Euan re government factory.

Yes it could become part of Qinetiq. If it isn’t building fresh helicopters it could be doing conversion work like adding foldable blades to Merlin and Lynx. What I don’t understand is that sometimes major modifications can be done quite quickly and at other times things are test to death. Take the roll out of those new blades for Sea King that seemed to be done quickly. But I bet if the go-ahead to make the ex-RAF Merlins’ tales fold there would be a battery of tests and it would take an age.

Jan Guest
Jan Guest
April 25, 2011 9:45 pm

Btw, the flight hour cost of the NH90 should be 50% above that of a Wildcat (calculated through fuel consumption, personnell, spareparts). For zero additional capability. So, in a conceived hi-lo mix, it is no valid lo-option.

Yep – the only argument for NH90/Hawks is as a one type fleet replacing everything between Chinook and Apache. As that is not going to happen for the forseeable future they aren’t really on the table any more.

@x I guess letting the drumbeat production of subs stop between Vanguard and Astute was another superb decision of the MoD. The thing is as Bae is the only builder the MoD buy subs from and they are the sole customer, the action of the market and competition is an irrelevance. The Barrow yard is effectively a nationalised industry in all but name and Bae making a profit out it possibly makes costs higher than they would be if it was non profit-making.

Tubby
Tubby
April 25, 2011 9:49 pm

@X

Re: Sea King with Carson blades and Merlin’s with folding tails.

Presumably it costs less to draw a testing programme out over time, so you go rapidly for UOR and slowly for scheduled upgrade programmes, though I sure it helped that Carson blades were proven technology (though the ability to fold the blades was new to Carson).

Euan
Euan
April 25, 2011 9:53 pm

Update on Swedish Blackhawks. Just noticed this online: http://www.dsca.mil/pressreleases/36-b/2010/Sweden_10-63.pdf

So the Swedish deal includes various bit’s and bob’s and looking around the first aircraft are to arrive next year with crews being trained this summer in the US the first aircraft are also due to be in Afghanistan in 2013. In total the Swedes plan to spend around $775M buying and supporting these helicopters up until 2020ish so I don’t know about anyone else but I would guess that is a cracking deal and a kick in the nuts to the NH90 and shows how metal our politicians really are. (AFAIK it’s a new type in Swedish service although I’ve not bothered to check)

X, I think the RN/RM should operate Lynx and Merlin and the AAC Chinook, WAH-64 Apache and one other type either Blackhawk, AW-139M or AW-149. Search and Rescue would either be PFI’ed out or done by a paramilitary coastguard flying a mix of Merlin and whatever utility type the army ends up with. Your right it can also be darn right confusing that some things like new blades for the Sea King can be rolled out really quickly without much fuss and then other simple things take so long and end up as a bit of a mess.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 25, 2011 9:54 pm

RE “Yes it could become part of Qinetiq. If it isn’t building fresh helicopters it could be doing conversion work like adding foldable blades to Merlin and Lynx.”
– that’s the way the management of armoured fleet works, to my understanding: As maintenance is in house, small or urgent modifications can be done in-house, whereas major upgrades are contracted back to the original supplier?
– Qinetic, though, was privatised; and a lot of the helicopter maintenance has been contracted with the original supplier
– therefore; would that analogy work?

x
x
April 25, 2011 10:36 pm

@ Jan

Yes in a nut shell! But nuclear submarines aren’t just submarines; being able to build decent nuclear submarine is still a technological feat that many countries are struggling to achieve. If there was a “need” for a SSK I would rather BAE build a nice German or Swedish designed one. Or indeed buy it at source; I would be buying fleet tankers from Italy tomorrow if I was in charge. And you are right that the missed beat in boat orders did harm Barrow and has cost “us.” Apparently orders for long lead items for the V-boats replacements have already been placed. And there isn’t a design to be built yet; such is the complexity of the undertaking. Hopefully if there is a fudge on the V-boat these orders can be used to support the idea of ordering Astute 8.
Um. One final thought is that without BAE there is no Barrow, and I wonder if the welfare bill is ever factored into MoD deliberations.

@ ACC

In today’s corporate world things get contracted out and brought back in all the time. Businesses take on other businesses. Admittedly the MoD doesn’t hold as much of Qinetiq as it did when it was first floated but Qinetiq is more tied to the MoD than another contractor would be. There alternatives I suppose such as dealing with AugustaWestlands directly. Or perhaps using a company like Marshall.

@ Tubby

Yes true. What I was driving at was the Carson blades were new tech. While the bits and plans to fold Merlin are “known.” Yet the arse about face we work the “known” is bound to take longer than the new……

@ Euan

I was avoiding talk of AH64 because it is a given really. As for AAC operating Chinnook I don’t want to become embroiled in another RAF “discussion;” as this is TD’s playground I will play by his rules so that means for me RAF operating the large army supporting rotorcraft. And as the RAF operate SAR too I won’t comment on that beyond the status quo in that both RN/RAF operate SeaKing in this role. And if they were to continue in this role perhaps a common type could be purchased for not only the two armed services but for the Coastguard too who’s SAR is already PFI’d out.

Um. Jed did make a point over in the thread where I suppose all this should be discussed in that does the RAF need a second type below Chinnook to replace Puma. I am lost on that one. Merlin is big. NH90 seems only a tad smaller than Merlin. I am going to have to do a google and get out the Jane’s and think about it!

Think Defence
Admin
April 25, 2011 10:53 pm
Reply to  x

x, I don’t mind at all you suggesting the RAF divest itself of SH but make the case from a position of sanity, not irrationality!

x
x
April 26, 2011 12:28 am

@ Jed

I think we will need rotor fold though. As for tail folding being a Land Rover owner rivets and aluminium don’t frighten me. Nothing an angle grinder and a Draper pop river tool can’t solve. Um. I bet sophisticated machines Merlins are built too something like an eighth of inch tolerance and not the half inch I am used too. Better put my glasses on then…..

I think I have mentioned here that I favour filling CVF with Merlin and fitting them with SeaViper. And in my wilder moments when I have had too much sugar in my tea I even envisage buying BrahMos missiles too….. :)

Somewhat Removed
Somewhat Removed
April 26, 2011 8:23 am

Having spoken to a few RAF Puma types the widely held view is that Merlin is too large to be used in the medium troop lift role that the Puma currently fulfils, and having seen the size of Merlin I’m inclined to agree. It also makes sense to shift the Merlins to CHF as a consequence, as without the Sea King CHF ceases to be, and we end up with commonality across the FAA. Lets not forget just how vital a role CHF has played in Afghanistan (once again where is the vaunted and 40,000+ strong RAF?). The current plan, which is under much debate, is to transfer the Merlins across in 2016 in exchange for new CH47’s, but the Merlins require heavy modification to 3a/4 marks to give them folding tails and rotors, and bring the standard up to that of the Merlin ASW Mk2 following that aircraft’s upgrade. The whole thing is in jeopardy because, funny old thing, because of the RAF. Since there is a threat to the new CH47 buy, they are refusing to give up the Merlins.

Another fascinating fact I’ve heard is that the future of MASC is now Merlin and will never be the Hawkeye, as the powers that be had intended not to replace the SKASAC when it leaves service in 2016. In order to keep this capability, the RN has ‘promised’ to develop a palletised package for Merlin that can be installed in any Merlin airframe in a matter of hours, thus no longer having a ‘specialist’ airframe but retaining the capability. Such is the desperate nature of these reductions that this is what we’re reduced to. Apparently though the package will consist of two active electronically scanned arrays mounted on the weapons carriage pylons port and stbd. In addition I have recently learned that the Cerberus processing suite in the SKASAC was invented by a FAA observer in his garage, and is so capable that the US is screaming for it, and may even generate significant leverage towards son-of-Trident.

Mark
Mark
April 26, 2011 9:37 am

X

1/8th of an inch that would be nice. I think it would be more like .020 for the assembly and tending to tenths of a thou for the really close stuff unless it’s composite and then you just hope.

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 10:20 am

Since I started it I’ll try to explain myself.

Why? Well in Euan’s World the AAC would be operating a nice number of something like AW-149 in the utility role essentially replacing lynx but also replacing the Puma and current Merlin utility fleet. So the AAC would be operating a large fleet of helicopters and the RAF operating Chinook would be out of place amongst lots of fixed wing so it makes sense to me to move them into the AAC which is primarily geared toward support helicopters. The rotary wing Training role will probably get contracted out a bit more than it already is so it won’t really belong to anyone anymore as it’ll be a big purple blob. The FAA and CHF would be left operating a larger common fleet of Wildcat and Merlin ideally depending on how happy the RM’s are to work with that combination of aircraft sizes. The argument could easily be made and I hear it about to be made that the CHF could be moved into the AAC well yes but Merlin would be a dissimilar type within the AAC or AW-149 would be a dissimilar type when operating from ships.

SAR is an interesting one to me because there are various options but the one I favour most and have always been vocal about is a proper coordinated paramilitary coastguard rather than the current array of organisations. Coastguard aviation would then not just simply be about rescuing idiots who did not check when the tides change or those who think a kids dinghy is ideal for fishing in. It would also have to cover the fisheries, customs, immigration and general maritime security roles around the UK coastline so privatising it might be a bit more difficult when it’s not just clear cut SAR. Naturally the oddity might be the large number of helicopter rescues carried out inland by Coastguard aircraft but I believe under the PFI they were all to follow the current scheme used by the S-92’s and AW139’s.

Also if anyone hadn’t guessed if it really was Euan’s world the UK’s Armed Forces would probably be much like the USMC and the UK simply a big Aircraft Carrier. That is until we got our energy and food supplies as well as the general economy toward being more sustainable and secure from interruption or shock. Then I would cut the armed forces back to something a bit smaller than now and generally keep our nose out of other people’s business while trying to deal with the probably huge demographic pressures at home.

P.S. Your probably right and this should all be in the other thread but I’ll post this then pop over there.

x
x
April 26, 2011 10:54 am

@ Mark

Just in case……you do know I was joking don’t you? The first time I ever did some structural work on a LR chassis the repair was built with less than a mil error. And of course the repair section didn’t fit; it was then I found out the rather generous tolerances used by Solihull in the ’70s……

But back to helicopters. As you are the man in the know tell me is it really that difficult to chop the end off a tail and refit to fold? The design and necessary bits and bobs are known. I assume that airframes aren’t a complete right off if they get dented slightly, they must be repairable, I am sure I have seen aircraft on jigs at some point.

x
x
April 26, 2011 11:03 am

@ Euan

Well Euan’s world seems to be very much like x’s world.

Mark
Mark
April 26, 2011 11:34 am

X

Sorry x I never can tell. Yeah I don’t see it being a big issue as the engineering is already there it’s a known quantity proved they didn’t change the tail drive mechanism to accommodate the rear ramp. Most a/c structures/joint have up to 3 repair option built in. One whilst in manufacture 2 in the field. You can repair most things usually cost plays a part. Dents on helo skin is less important than a/c as it’s not pressurised if it’s metal you can always get the big hammer out and give it a wack

Jan Guest
Jan Guest
April 26, 2011 12:07 pm

@ SR

“The whole thing is in jeopardy because, funny old thing, because of the RAF. Since there is a threat to the new CH47 buy, they are refusing to give up the Merlins.”

The RAF can ‘refuse’ all they like but in the end if the Minister tells them they will they have to. As you will notice from the cuts, which all of the services would have refused if they could, ultimately they do what the politicians tell them. The problem is that rather than developing a plan and driving it through the politicians allow the forces to beg and bicker and then change everything to please the treasury. Then the papers kick up a stink and something gets ‘saved’ even though there is limited rationale for saving it.

Think Defence
Admin
April 26, 2011 12:46 pm
Reply to  Jan Guest

The fairly basic plan was for RAF Merlin crews to move to Chinook and CHF move from SK to Merlin HC3/3a

All very sensible.

However, if no Chinook, lots of aircrew and ground crew with nowhere to go

Tubby
Tubby
April 26, 2011 1:09 pm

Also it would be fair to say rather than refusing to let the Merlin’s go the RAF have actually put together a plan that basically says it’s cheaper to let the FAA crews go, than let the RAF crews go AND re-train the FAA crews, and that given recent usage it makes sense to have the Merlin’s stay with the RAF and occasionally deploy at sea. The counter argument is that have two different forces maintain the Merlin is less cost efficient than one force. However on balance, from a purely budget basis this is likely the RAF’s proposal is cheaper and leads us back to question asked in a previous post, do we really need a dedicated CHF. I think the answer is yes (before I get flamed, but this a gut feeling rather than a strategy).

Transferring the Merlin’s is also likely a sop to the FAA, as if they lose CHF, they are just left with naval flights, which do require long stays at sea and will be increasingly difficult (and possibly expensive) for them to be able to recruit sufficient pilots and maintainers due to their small size and I would be surprised if the RAF actually wanted the naval flights if you then decided to absorb the FAA into the RAF to try to reduce costs.

Then there is the issue of harmony guidelines, which without bringing in the bitter rhetoric of the CVF thread, would be a problem if a Frigate went to sea for 6 months, but had to rotate its maintainer and pilots off after 4 months. It could also explain the differences between RAF and FAA, the FAA is forced to do what is best for the ship deployed crews, so it may be that towards the end of a 6 month tour a FAA pilot is mentally shattered flying in difficult situations for 6 months and would be better for the FAA pilots to do four month deployments, but for the ship’s crew a four month deployment would not be sufficiently long enough to work up the crew, steam to where they are needed, do something useful, and return home.

Ixion
Ixion
April 26, 2011 1:16 pm

‘Lets not forget just how vital a role CHF has played in Afghanistan (once again where is the vaunted and 40,000+ strong RAF?).’

Somewhat removed is a which burn him!

It is now X’s Euans and Ixions world, I third the motion.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 26, 2011 2:36 pm

Hi Euan,

RE”The FAA and CHF would be left operating a larger common fleet of Wildcat and Merlin ideally depending on how happy the RM’s are to work with that combination of aircraft sizes”
-I would go with that, mainly

-taking the cue from others’ contributions: fly fast and/or far and with only reasonable demands on payload = CSAR, ASW & amphibious, over-the-horizon attack
– what does that leave (Merlins being the answer to the above):
1.ASuW (distance not a known parameter, but most important engagements take place close to the task force, and “you” will have to get around quickly to deal with the diversions/faints/ the real threats); LLM coming & capable
2.Task Force “near” ASW, to complement the “outer ring”
3.Armed recce/ missile’er the back up Apaches while they are on station (rather than going back, for rearming)

On this latter, Wildcat, count I would say
– 20 for the ASW/ ASuW
– 20 for the armed recce/ AsuW role
– leaves 20 plus 22 AH9A’s for liaison, urgent resupply, casevac, convoy protection…

I.e all Merlins FAA, CHF; and Lynxes now the joint force, about 50/50 as preconfigured (but quickly reconfigured)

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 3:13 pm

X, Euan’s World also includes Landover Defenders preferably the 300tdi of course none of that Td5 electrickery. Yey Euan’s world now has 3 members and I kind of knew about you Jed we just need to go back and look at some old threads to see me and you arguing the same point and being each other’s shadow.

Jed, That’s the clever thing we could just cheat and buy the hot potato that is Blackhawk and have it built in Yeovil with RTM-322 engines rather than taking a greater risk getting AW149 fitted and tested with all the necessary kit. Also about that all important money thing I have a copy of the Live supplement from the Mail on Sunday with a nice Special Report on that £7.8bn DFiD budget :D Although to win votes I would use it to fund free University places in key study areas or simply cut it to save money but hey buying helicopters with it would be good.

Now about the future of the CHF well if there was a strategy and that strategy said the CHF will be merged with the AAC and all helicopters operated by them will be marinised for use at sea then i could live with it. Just like I could live with the RM’s being reduced to their original historic role of naval infantry to protect ships etc if there was a strategy although I do much prefer going in the other direction.

ACC my idea would be for the FAA to operate the Wildcat with some of those in the land variant for the Royal Marines perhaps even with the 20mm turret mounted cannon. They could whizz around as gunships and should be quite effective in the littoral when armed with 14 LMM and the cannon should make those Iranian FAC’s have a good think.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 26, 2011 3:38 pm

Hi Euan & Jed,

I had those 8 counted just like Jed did,
– that gives 20 ASW (long range, ie. Merlin and 20 short-range, but also ASuW capable, ie. Wildcat)
– so the 20 whizzing around with cannon turret, 14 LMMs would be an “up” from the 4 currently designated for RM, but equally capable of taking on the sizes of ships/ boats that you can expect in littoral “ambushes” rather than “blue seas” encounters

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 4:04 pm

Ahh well that’s lovely Jed suppose I’ve taken an actual disliking to NH90 after doing some digging into it and also have some niggles with the much mentioned AW149 :)

I can see the logic in having them all fitted with radar and eerily enough I have the Seaspray 7000E PDF open atm as I was having a look at it just out of curiosity :|it weighs 80kg so carrying it around is ok. It would be nice if the thing could just be popped out easily and a blanking plate put over the hole when you need that additional 80kg for something else for instance hot and high or a 20mm cannon popped in. Also fair point we could just get a cannon pod of any of the various types available including bodgeneering something out of redundant cannons from the Tonka toys and that would do for whacking small boats. However it would of course be nice to have a proper turret which frees up a pylon but also allows for accurate fire needed elsewhere such as stopping go-fast’s or supporting guys on the ground (I did say nice to have :D). It would be pretty epic to see a dozen or so Wildcat working with UAV’s ripping the IRGC or other small boat force to bits in the Gulf or elsewhere.

Numbers: I think we need all 38 Merlin upgraded to the HM.2 standard. Also the FAA/CHF would get all 62 Wildcat with a 36/26 split either way or as Jed suggested just keep them all the same.

x
x
April 26, 2011 4:28 pm

When is a fleet of helicopters that cost tens of millions each a copy a small fleet? I think anything over 10 is a good size. We have to stop comparing ourselves to the US in numbers terms. Though saying that it is states like India who are catching us (Euro or should that be non-American West?) in airframe numbers.

There is nothing wrong with Blackhawk. You have to remember that US Army’s aviation budget is $7.5billion. Given they get more bang for their buck you could say in real world terms to equate to £7.5billion which as much as the RN and RAF get each. If our budget was that big we could afford to miss out the intermediate sized airframe like Puma by just buying lots of the next sized down ie Blackhawk. It is this middle ground for me where the problem is, the space between Merlin/Chinook at the top, and Lynx at the bottom. I am beginning to think we shouldn’t try to fill it……

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 5:01 pm

X indeed I’m guilty of the small fleet mentality at times although it of course depends on the aircraft Lynx sitting at 62 is ok as it gives you useable numbers for deploying them aboard available ships when combined with the Merlin. However when I’ve said in the past I think the AAC should be operating 120+ medium utility types such as the AW149 that number comes from some simple guesstimation math. We need the airframe numbers for obvious reasons and as an example the Germans are aiming for over 120 utility versions of the NH90 and they don’t plan to be anywhere near as busy as we tend to be. Playing in a sandpit for extended periods away from home apparently from what I’m told tends to bugger helicopters rather fast and you end up with a couple of bags of sand after a maintenance period.

As for the gap between Lynx and Chinook/Merlin well if you look at the weights of the AW family the AW139M or AW149 fits in rather perfectly in my opinion or the Blackhawk also fits but is a bit heavier. I think there is a gap and it should be filled not least because it keeps the folk at Westlands in work but also gives us the airframe numbers I think we so badly need (as long as the spares are also bought :().

P.S. Jed more likely 12 blokes in a AW149 with the gunners or upto 18 in ferry mode or do we not use units of 12? Although we could get 16 in and get the gunners to crouch where the seats were bloody uncomfortable though.

The Mintcake Maker
The Mintcake Maker
April 26, 2011 5:54 pm

Hey guys,

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking (probably a bad idea). I quiet like the idea of the AW149 in services with the AAC however since we are strapped for cash I was looking for a cheaper alternative and X & Euan got me thinking.

How about we do a bit of a deal with AW al a Thales LMM for a curbed Starstreak order.

If we scrub the last 20 Wildcat, leaving the FAA/CHF with 42, we can have about £548m to play with based on a wildcat costing £27m

So the contenders

AW-149
According to literature it would be able to carry a squad (8 men/12 max) with door gunners and with a utility seating of about 18.
Cost: £21m
(based on the Turkey Blackhawk deal, I’m guessing AW had to offer something in a similar price range)

AB-412
Will carry an 8 man squad with door gunners and can carry 13 in utility mode. The AAC have also operated a couple already. Upgrade with new engines ala UH-1Y and maybe a few other goodies.
Cost: £14m max
(based on the cost of a UH-1Y which has way more bells and whistles than we need)

Either way you look at it we are still going to need 3 Helicopter to deploy a platoon (28 men) so:
£548m gets us:

39x AB 412
26x AW 149

Based on these figures I’d sooner go with the AB 412 purely because a helicopter can only be in one place at one time and its footprint is slightly smaller than the AW 149

This would lead to eventually:

FAA: Merlin, Wildcat
AAC: Apache, AB 412 (65x AB 412s, so a little extra money is needed)
RAF: Chinook

What do you guys think?

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 6:28 pm

Ahh not so fast if we cut the Wildcat procurement the unit cost will head skywards and I bet it will head further skywards that what would be reasonable even with a quid pro quo deal with Augusta Westland. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it’s that bad an idea but I just can’t see it really working and I would rather leave the program as it is to avoid giving AW ammo to up the price or for the MoD to make more of a mess. Also in Euan’s World those aircraft would be used so cutting the number procured would not be ideal and would leave us short of naval helicopters and the low end of the CHF. Anyhow back to your idea if we could secure export orders for the wildcat then we may have something there selling off our production slots to foreign buyers if AW could be persuaded to support that idea. I would also warn that getting geared up to produce another helicopter type will eat into the numbers the basic maths says we might be able to get for the money we could theoretically free up by doing a deal with AW.

Another sticking point for me is the AB412 which admittedly I know little about but it’s not really a helicopter I’ve seen suggested before as a possibility for UK utility type so there must be some reasons behind that. You suggest the UH-1Y has more bells and whistles than we need but I would suggest it doesn’t as any new utility type will need to have capable DAS alongside an EO/IR ball as well as good selection of weapons. However I obviously support the suggestion that we should also be aiming for airframe numbers rather than pure capability per aircraft so I’m a wee bit stuck.

Tubby
Tubby
April 26, 2011 7:29 pm

Somewhat Removed comments about mounting AESA radar’s on the Merlin’s pylons leads me to a question I have been dying to ask ever since I heard the line “…but the GR9 does not have a radar”.

Exactly how hard would it be to fit two small radars, and the back end in a pod the size of standard 330 gallon drop tank and mount them on pylons on under GR9, and then integrate the feed from both radars to get a good radar picture in the cockpit. This would have allowed our much missed (but not as much as we would have missed the Tornado) GR9 to act in the air defence role with a pair of radar pods, and 2 ASRAAM and 2 AMRAAM, thereby making up for the retirement of the Sea Harrier. I imagine that Selex could have knocked up a system for a good price since they have several AESA radars suitable for small jet trainers, so take one them, reduce the TR count and fit it all in a standard sized drop tank. Have I gone nuts?

IXION
IXION
April 26, 2011 7:43 pm

Can I chip in as amerlin ‘Hater’ the 3 engine thing smacks of gold plated design and I have inside ifo that unter hot winless condition it does not give the much vaunted safety margin it should- 2 big engines would have been simpler and cheaper.

The tail rotor problems smack of the usual british helicopter ‘delicacy’.

In practice this is the ‘Best asw in the world tag’ due tot eh chopper or the kit? could all the important kit not be fitted in nH90?

It’s big but cannot lift as much as ch53 (a design that’s so old I think Noah used one to help lift timbers on the ark bulding job).

Hasn’t sold well – can it be I am not alone?

Is this another British – we will not compromise on what we want even if no one else appear to want one, design?

IXION
IXION
April 26, 2011 7:44 pm

Sorry about grammer on earlier post!

x
x
April 26, 2011 8:06 pm

@ Jed

I knew were hating on the Blackhawk so I was sticking up for it as I always run against the grain.

As for sub-platoon infantry groupings you forget that the current in vogue magic number for the Army is 16 aka the multiple. Platoon OC takes one half and the platoon sergeant takes the other. Spookily this is the maximum passenger loading of the Puma.

We could ask Sikorsky to built a batch of the stretched Hawk the S92……….

Or but more Pumas, or some NH90, or some AW whatevers. I don’t think there is an easy answer here.

@ Tubby

It would be easier to chop the nose off the GR9, stick in a RADAR, and then rebuild the nose a la AV8x….

x
x
April 26, 2011 8:21 pm

@ Jed

I don’t think the NH90 has enough beard capacity either. You know how much those rotary FAA love their beards…… :)

Tubby
Tubby
April 26, 2011 8:26 pm

@X

Your likely right about cutting off the nose, but I was thinking of way which we could have turned our GR9’s into a useful carrier borne air defence fighter, without permanently modifying a number of them, and fitting a port and starboard AESA radar array in pods seemed like a good way to do it.

Cost is hard to guess, SELEX has both a 500 TR and 1000 TR radar, the 500 TR radar can fit into the nose of a lead-in trainer. I think even a lead-in trainers nose cone would be wider than a 330 gallon drop tank, so the cost for the pods would likely be high as you would need to develop a 200 or 300 TR radar array, then incorporate a new layout for the processors to fit in the pod, and then link it to pylon so it feeds into the cockpit MFD, all the time likely only producing 24 – 30 pods in total, so that we could embark a full squadron on our remaining CVS.

Wibble
Wibble
April 26, 2011 8:28 pm

@SR

I think you listen to too many stories in the pub. Can you please explain this throw-away line?

“ Lets not forget just how vital a role CHF has played in Afghanistan (once again where is the vaunted and 40,000+ strong RAF?)”

Also, can you also explain if you have factual basis for this line?

“ The whole thing is in jeopardy because, funny old thing, because of the RAF. Since there is a threat to the new CH47 buy, they are refusing to give up the Merlins.”

Mark
Mark
April 26, 2011 8:35 pm

Just a point on the 3 engine merlin. I suppose the best way to look at it is if you only need 2 engines to fly you can always loose one and still continue much as happened when the the tristar was designed. Ixion redundancy on hot and high is always going to be difficult its the most challenging environment to operate and pretty unique to afghan summer its usually hot or high else were. If all helo need to do an afghan summer day then they will be much more expensive and we may never operate in such a demanding environment again.

One other thing to remember chinook and merlin can self deploy long distances can puma/nh-90/blackhawk? This is important considering our reduced transport assets. We may buy 100 new aw149s or blackhawks but theyll be yet another paper tiger if we can only deploy and sustain a 12-18 at anyone time

Personally I would increase the merlin fleet slightly (12-18) and the lynx wildcat or mk9a by around 30 airframes. Lynx in numbers can do the urban stuff. I would also increase the spares holding to merlin like has happened with chinook we need to maximise the assets we have first before adding more. TO pay for a more air mobile army i would reduce fres/armour and numbers along greame lambs idea to about 65k regs and use the extra money to expand the c17 fleet to 16 a/c as well as the extra merlin and lynx.

x
x
April 26, 2011 8:58 pm

@ Tubby

Yes I know. I just saw what you said as another good example of the simple expedient to greatly enhance combat effectiveness being overlooked. For me doing a nose job is simple. And like you said so is adding pods that fit the aerodynamic and weight profiles of known under wing stores. But there is a complete failure of imagination within the MoD so nothing cheap and innovative will happen.

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 9:37 pm

I think there have been around 155 Merlin produced to date or that’s the figure I got with a quick tally on Wiki of orders received not great considering 72 of those are ours and another chunk are Italian. As for the tag of excellent ASW platform yes much of it is to do with all the kit that Merlin carries and yes most of it can fit on the NH90 in fact the NH90 uses the same dipping sonar but Merlin has better range and more goodies to boot.

X Re: the S-92. I’ve always kept that in the back of my mind because it offers a big cabin for carrying people has a ramp and is based off of the solid well proven UH-60’s dynamics. The problem is as Canada seems to have found out once you add all the military gubbins it struggles with the weight and it’s still not sorted yet. Of course all the sub hunting gear is not the same as a load of squaddies in the back but it would still probably end up with a rather limited payload just as folk complain about with the Merlin. The S-92 Helibus aptly describes it in my opinion a flying bus ideal for moving people around in a nice spacious cabin.

x
x
April 26, 2011 9:46 pm

@ Euan

I was being naughty re S92 because of BlackHawk. And I hear what you are saying re add-ons. But if we only want to lift 16 bods as per Puma I think it is a goodish fit. I bet one of those airline seats weighs as much as a Bergen. And there can’t be that much military stuff to add; defensive flairs perhaps? Perhaps we need a keep it simple platform. There are lots of customers using the type including our own Coastguard (through a PFI.)

Wibble
Wibble
April 26, 2011 10:00 pm

I think a lot of people are forgetting first the manoeuvrability of the Puma compared with even the super puma let alone other types.

People also forget how easily the Puma fits and a C17 with relatively quick strip/rebuild times.

This basically mean you can deploy via C17 and have it carrying 16 pax around whatever environment you want within, in theory, 24 hours.

You can not do that with any other aircraft types banded about in this an other similar threads.

Puma 2 is going to be excellent.

IXION
IXION
April 26, 2011 10:15 pm

The Merlin is still a very big helo Ok not as big as CH53 but Ch53 is ‘the next size up’.

I was told once the reason for it’s size was that Army wanted carry a platoon in one rather than 2 helo’s.

The 3 engines was a navy requirement – and apart from CH53 was pretty unique. It does seem to have resulted in a helicopter which size wise is awkward. It’s too big and very thirsty for some jobs, and not big enough with not enough load capacity for many others. Lots of helicopters in the NH90/aw149/puma size seems to indicate a more of a requirement, and ch53/chinnook at the other end likewise.

Not per se a ‘Bad aircraft’ just one we seem to be trying to invent roles for because it’s what we’ve got.

This is not one of my anti carrier rants just a vague feeling of being disappointed by it’s capabilities, sales etc.

Q If we did not have it would we develope it now?

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 10:29 pm

Wibble I agree Puma HC2 will be a good helicopter once we get the thing for a half decent investment but it’ll still be an old lady and we won’t have enough of them to do much with. As for C-17 transportability they all need bits taken off of them to get them into a C-17 IIRC for Blackhawk, AW149 and possibly NH90 the things that need taken off to get it in are tail rotor blades.

X, there is a fair list of military kit to add that really is not optional these days such as radar and laser warning receivers along with the normal package of flares and chaff add to that a DIRCM system, night vision compatible cockpits and lighting etc etc etc. Random point there have been less S-92 built than Merlin IIRC but I could be mistaken about that as I’m too lazy to check the numbers. The S-92 doing SAR is the main reason it’s in my head as a nice order from Sikorsky of S-92 built in Yeovil could keep folk happy because we get commercially viable SAR type and a battlefield taxi.

IXION if we did not have the Merlin we would either have done the sensible thing and bought quite a few Blackhawks in various flavours and have had them built in Yeovil with RTM-322’s or we would have joined the NH90 program. Another helicopter with three engines was/is the Super Frelon made by the froggies across the channel and also built in China but hey it’s French so who was ever going to remember them.

x
x
April 26, 2011 10:37 pm

@ Euan

A low light glass cockpit shouldn’t cost that much; we live in age where TFTs screens can be purchased for £100 for a 19″ model. Though probably the aircraft manufacturers will be charging a small fortune for something gold plated and not sensible. And I know a really expensive NVG only cost £1000 a pair. As for RADAR and LASER warning apparatus well I am not sure, are they essential? The UK has fielded front line jets without RWR. And LASER, um, well once the MANPAD is flying, well I suppose it would be comforting to know when you are going to die. So…..

Mark
Mark
April 26, 2011 10:45 pm

Ixion

No I dont think you would. I think if you needed a helo of that type now you would buy nh-90 or s-92 and save on the development however when merlin was designed, built and entered service neither of those were around.

We cannot keep jumping round from one type to the next buying 20 here 20 there. Buy a type across the board accept its limitations and stick to it long term and invest in upgrades should be procurement strategy. We will have about 60 of each merlin chinook lynx and apache with a call to made on 24 puma and 28 sar helos. Is there room in uk service for a 5th type of about 60 machines or do we reduce to 4 fleets.

Wibble

I hope your right but the raf does not have the best track record when it comes to upgrading helicopters and puma does have outstanding safety issues which will not all be addressed by the upgrade. If the budget had not been cut would we have continued with the upgrade or gone for replacement?

Wibble
Wibble
April 26, 2011 10:47 pm

@Euan,

Helicopters dont age as badly as fixed wing aircraft. While the basic airframe will be old officially Puma 2 is a Life Extension Programme not an upgrade. It will effectively reset the clock in terms of hours while increasing certain capability although not solving all of the Puma’s charms.

Removing rotar blades is a given, removing the rotar head is a bigger job and not required with a Puma in a C17.

Also, I just dont get the fascination with the Blackhawk. It can not carry what a Puma can let alone a Merlin and is big, clumsy, high maintenance etc. Even if we had bought in cheap Westlands would have cocked it up making it cost more.

Of all the Helicopters we should question it should be the Wildcat which will end up being a very expensive helicopter to fly generals and admirals to the golf course.

Wibble
Wibble
April 26, 2011 10:48 pm

@Mark

Care to justify your comments?

Mark
Mark
April 26, 2011 10:59 pm

Well the chinook hc1 to hc2 upgrade was a mess which evidence suggests was a major cause in the mull of kintyre accident.

IXION
IXION
April 26, 2011 11:05 pm

Mark

We are where we are, and it would be crazy to change horse in mid stream. OK Merlin stays but the mooving it to FAA roles only seems like a good idea.

However I always understood the NH90 was a contemporay design we declined to join in because it was the ‘Wrong size’ for uk requirements.

I still like the aw 149 though….

Wibble
Wibble
April 26, 2011 11:05 pm

@ Mark

There is till an ongoing enquiry into that issue so we will have to wait and see. Even so that was a long time ago and things have changed for better or for worse across the entire MOD.

Please add further justification for your comments or redact your earlier post.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 26, 2011 11:12 pm

I keep on saying it, but I think it a shame the Wildcat did not get the stretched fuselage of the Lynx 3 prototype. Would have stopped most of this “wildcat is too small moaning”.

Mark
Mark
April 26, 2011 11:14 pm

Long time or not wibble but it was the last major and significant helicopter upgrade to an in service a/c in the RAF as you say we’ll have to wait and see about the enquiry. The chinook HC3 though a procurement was another disaster so I stick by my position.

Wibble
Wibble
April 26, 2011 11:21 pm

@Mark,

What makes you blame that on the RAF? There is an entire MOD procurement department of mainly civil servants who do most of the staff work and ultimately it is a politician who makes the decision.

Also, don’t forget that since 1999 the budget for SH has belonged to the Army and arguably it had a large say in everything long before that (formation of JHC).

It is fine to blame someone for these mess ups but blame the correct people!! The RAF, as an organisation, probably had very little to do with these issue otherwise they probably would have saved a few billion pounds!

Also, please justify your comments regarding Puma safety?

Euan
Euan
April 26, 2011 11:32 pm

X, I would guess you’re not a computer nerd that knows about different TFT-LCD panel types? Well you own a Landy so I guess probably not but trust me proper displays cost money and I would rather a proper display in a helicopter. Also if you’ve got a laser guided missile on you a I believe there are some options but I’m not all that familiar with them but they dazzle the laser seeker of the missile much like DIRCM does to IR missiles. However in general your right the defence industrial complex will add an extra chunk to the price just because that’s what they do and they need to make profit and cover their asses against the folk buying the equipment buggering about.

Wibble I understand that helicopters don’t age as badly as fixed wing aircraft as all I have to do is look at the number of Chinooks that are flying around that are as old as the hills but they are still going to be old designs. For moving Blackhawk, AW149 and other types the rotor head can also stay on however Merlin is huge so needs to be taken to bits and so does Chinook although that has some design features to expedite that process.

I don’t get your comments about Blackhawk though depending on the variant of Blackhawk and Puma Blackhawk is heavier but also has a much higher MTOW can carry a larger payload and again dependant on variant has a greater or similar range. I’ve not seen the comments of being big, clumsy and high maintenance being attached to the UH-60 family before and if it were the case why would it get large numbers of exports all over the world. If you can provide some reliable sources to back up those comments then I’ll take a look as I’m curious to know.

As for Wildcat I don’t really agree that it will end up being all that bad and I’ve said what I think of it and what I think they should be used for although if we could go back in time I would have had a good long hard think about it.

Think Defence
Admin
April 26, 2011 11:39 pm
Reply to  Euan

Euan, the UH60 is pretty well known for low availability but the massive logs capability the US have compensates, like Apache it is a no compromise design that has a big back office.

Wibble and Mark, eh, calm down calm down eh eh eh calm down laaa

Somewhat Removed
Somewhat Removed
April 26, 2011 11:39 pm

Wibble,

Always happy to defend lines – never a throwaway line here though. I have real issues with the fact that the RN as a service is more heavily deployed than ever before, and as the smallest service is nevertheless managing to deploy fully 10% of its strength to Afghanistan at this point in time (Herrick 14) as well as conducting all of the other standing tasks around the world. Commando Helicopter Force is yet again deployed into theatre as it has done on several previous occasions, conducting intra-theatre lift, having to augment the RAF fleet again, and the whole thing just smacks of the RN being not only ready but capable whilst the RAF fritters away its resources on outdated Cold War platforms, formations and attitudes.

The plan, as TD pointed out, was for the RAF to transfer the Merlins it operates currently to the CHF in 2016 post retirement of the SK4. This was based on a plan to purchase additional CH47’s, but this has since been thrown into doubt post SDSR. It also required the conversion of the land based airframe to maritime standards i.e. folding tails and rotors, plus some of the glass cockpit upgrades going into the Merlin Mk2. The internal buzz is that the RAF is unwilling to lose the crews and airframes and that the future of CHF is in serious doubt. If we lose it, we lose a dedicated maritime capability that, as we see with the regeneration of carrier aviation, is immensely difficult to recover once lost. Again the inherent flexibility of naval forces over the rigidity of territorial land based air forces is shown – RAF squadrons have to go way out of their comfort zone to operate at sea, RN crews are adaptable to both.

Ixion, sorry, just how many combat aircraft has the RAF deployed in Afghanistan and to Libya? I just don’t have any confidence that they are anywhere near max capability or efficiency. I’m not thinking about transport aircraft – they do a pretty good job in my opinion despite some shockingly outdated aircraft, Tristar and VC10? Having flown crab air myself, they do an excellent job.

To all, I think the RAF are right to stick with Puma and the upgrade – it’s a tough airframe that will do the job and has got to be cheaper than buying in new airframes made of space age composites with demanding maintenance requirements (ta da – Merlin!).

x
x
April 26, 2011 11:44 pm

@ Euan

Actually Euan I worked on mainframes and high end UNIX servers for about 14 years so believe me I know kit.

My point is that sometimes when large contracts are signed things, normally the incidentals or those things believed to be easily understood are where the price gets inflated. I should have probably said something like “paying £2000 for a £500 screen” which would have illustrated my point better. By using the £100 example I was perhaps casting things too low. Sometimes penny components suddenly cost pounds. A bit like buying one of something from RS or 10 of the same from e-Bay. Um. I am not suggesting quality be compromised at all. I think this takes us back to how Blackhawks cost customers outside the US $30million and other customers (read US Gov’) buy the same for a third of the cost.

Somewhat Removed
Somewhat Removed
April 26, 2011 11:47 pm

Tubby, if we wanted radar capable Harriers we should have kept and upgraded Sea Harrier instead of the GR9. At the end of the day, SHAR could always have carried a Sniper pod and GPS guided weaponry whilst retaining its air to air capability thus becoming a great all rounder. It needed engine and wing upgrades, but the RAF (spot the thread) pressed for GR9 and got it.

Alternatively we could always have bought AV8B II+ – the USMC use it and it’s basically a GR9 with radar. External, pod mounted radars might be technically feasible, but would doubtless would be shockingly expensive and it’s a moot point now anyway.

Jed, the aim of the palletised package is nominally to provide a ‘hot-swap’ capability, but I wouldn’t want to place a bet on whether the radar package ever actually gets moved around. I suspect once it’s in, it’s staying there. But the idea of using the ex-RAF Mk3s is exactly what is planned. Or so I’m led to believe!!

Somewhat Removed
Somewhat Removed
April 26, 2011 11:50 pm

Wibble, am I sensing a streak of light blue?

x
x
April 26, 2011 11:51 pm

It should be remembered that Puma was flown around the African bush all through the wars of the 70s.

Those were the days when the report on the TV news was filmed and when shown it was a couple of days old. None of this iSkyphoneDroid jiggery pokery over the t’interweb.

x
x
April 27, 2011 12:05 am

Just saw this over at Military Photos Net…..

http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?197293-USAF-To-Hold-Separate-Contests-for-2-Helos

The USAF has fleet of helicopters just to evacuate politicians. Eek!

But what is interesting is there are some Puma sized helicopters mentioned which I hadn’t heard of. Like this one…..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KAI_Surion

Euan
Euan
April 27, 2011 12:08 am

Ahh woops sorry X:) fair point but nice to know you know the differences between the displays you can walk into Tesco pick up off the shelf vs a proper screens that get used elsewhere. The MoD supply chain is full of example like paying over the odds for things like washers that can be bought at the local DIY store that you have to special order for £££’s. Also about the Puma flying around bush that is one thing I envy about the French the training they get flying all sorts around like nutters in sparsely populated bits of Africa and getting to post it on Youtube :(

Admin thanks for posting I’d never heard much about the UH-60’s having low availability but it sounds like the yanks to have masses and masses of support behind their equipment as its helps provide lots of jobs and votes. I’m surprised that it manages to sell as well as it does abroad if it has low availability so the yanks through the state department etc must put quite a bit of effort into marketing and selling their kit.

Wibble
Wibble
April 27, 2011 7:25 am

@SR,

The RAF is supporting the Afghan effort directly with C17, Tristar, C130, Reaper, Sentinel, Merlin, Chinook, GR4, HS125,Shadow and so on plus RAF Regiment and lots of HQ staff, engineers, movers etc. It is hardly sat back in Blighty watching Reach for the Skies.

The Puma, Merlin and Chinook are also supporting UK and overseas exercises and unlike the CHF the RAF have not just had 3 weeks block leave.

You of course forget that all SH is paid for by the Army and controled by a joint command!!! The RAF does not get to pick and choose where it sends its helicopters.

The plan to send the Merlins to the Navy has been about for years. While there is no doubts the RAF would be happy to keep them I have seen no evidence to suggest any bickering and there is no doubt the ancient and absolute Seak Kings need to be replaced and CHF need to survive.

Sadly, RAF is going to take a big hit on crew numbers in the SH world regardless.

@Euan,

There is a great myth spread by the like of Lewis Page that all US kit is brilliant and never breaks. Sadly, this is not true an the USAF etc get by with sheer numbers of aircraft and people to fix them. That said they still struggle with the likes of JSTARS and other platforms that are not so plentiful.

Somewhat Removed
Somewhat Removed
April 27, 2011 10:38 am

Wibble,

So nice to hear a balanced and informed argument – too few like you these days.

I hoped to put the support elements of the RAF into better light and I agree; the strategic transport support elements are excellent and the RAF movements staff are also great. And I cannot praise the support helo personnel enough; it’s a shame there aren’t more of them at the top of the RAF brass tree. I can’t I’m afraid find justification for the RAF Regiment – that’s a very expensive way of guarding airfields.

However, my point is that the RAF has evolved the current state of affairs the hard way, and for most of the Afghan campaign the CAS came from the Harrier, not GR4. Indeed, many have commented that the GR4 is nothing like as capable as the GR9, being too maintenance intensive and, at the time of its introduction, incapable of delivering CAS without significant upgrade. Whilst I’m cautious of rumour, the weight of opinion doesn’t look favourable for GR4.

Sentinel is a waste of money, it doesn’t support the Afghan campaign that well as it couldn’t operate from any Afghan airfield (though that may have changed as I understand the runway at Kandahar has recently been significantly extended). For most of the campaign the provision of ground movement radar information came from the SeaKing ASAC, which could operate in theatre and had a far quicker response time.

Reaper is a last minute response to the fact that the Watchkeeper programme was so poorly thought out that no provision was made for incorporating an armed UAV.

I would love to have some confidence that the RAF is thinking about and evolving towards a long term, sustainable, practical expeditionary strategy that benefits UK defence as a whole and not just the interests of the force. But the evidence from Sentinel, Typhoon, Merlin, Nimrod and Watchkeeper tells me a hugely different story and it is firmly rooted in the Cold War and a messy land campaign in Afghanistan. SDSR was a step in the right direction towards a long term, MARITIME strategy, but all services need to remember that losing personnel, however unpleasant, is necessary and must be done in a balanced manner. Headline grabbing stories about all those poor trainee pilots out of a job, or just how difficult it is to train a Typhoon pilot to conduct air to ground operations, are not helping.

Not intended to be a rant but it ran away from me!

Think Defence
Admin
April 27, 2011 12:46 pm

@SR

Will be looking at RM and RAF Reg when I go on to land forces

Ref GR4 v GR9, many many arguments for and against, some of them relevant, others less so. GR9 is probably the better CAS machine for any number of reasons but then it can’t really do some of the stuff GR4 does, if GR4 and do CAS not quite as good as GR9 but good enough, plus SEAD, Recce, Strike etc that GR9 cannot do then in a land of harsh decisions where one type has to go, the larger fleet that can do more stuff was always going to win out.

Sentinel is not a waste of money and for the pattern of life stuff that it is being used for, reaction times or irrelevant, its dwell time that counts. In its original role, it is peerless

Reaper and watchkeeper, have a read of the post I did a while ago for some background

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/01/the-future-of-the-raf-10-%E2%80%93-istar-04-watchkeeper-and-scavenger/

Watchkeeper, by the way, is an Army programme

Wibble
Wibble
April 27, 2011 12:48 pm

@SR,

May I suggest you do some more research on what Sentinel does and why it is in theatre.

What you may not know is that these ISTAR aircraft do not just have a simple on switch. It takes time, sometimes too much time, to get all the radars/sensors etc turned on, tested, networked etc. Plus in the Sentinels case it also has too climb nice and high too which takes time. Therefore, basing it within Afghanistan would not offer any significant advantage to time on task etc and would burden the AT bridge, accommodation etc in Afghanistan. It would of course still have to climb to its operating height while keeping within the FP area so basically circling over very busy airspace. Not clever, nor useful. Sentinel is located in the correct place to do its job and it is doing its job very well. If you can prove otherwise go ahead?

As for the Gr4 I am yet to see any real proof that it is not a capable platform. It is doing CAS for real as well as more traditional bombing in Syria as well as support exercises etc. I have not heard any complaints as a soldier on the ground under fire does not care what drops the bomb, only that the bomb is dropped accurately and quickly and GR4 can do that easily.

Please tell us a cheap way of guarding a runway? Also do you know why the RAF Regiment came into existence and why they are the first choice to guard airfields in theatre?

Finally, I very much doubt anyone in the RAF wanted the headlines about chopped trainee pilots etc.

Think Defence
Admin
April 27, 2011 12:54 pm
Reply to  Wibble

Wibble, Syria….

No that would be a stretch!

Wibble
Wibble
April 27, 2011 12:55 pm

My mistake, one of those countries that is playing up at the moment.

Think Defence
Admin
April 27, 2011 1:02 pm
Reply to  Think Defence

That sounds like the basis of a good rumour :)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 27, 2011 1:05 pm

Hi SR,

I’ve tried to read the SDSR the same way you have, but have struggled to find the evidence,
– ok, the carriers proceed (slowly) and F-35 wasn’t cut (altogether, I mean)
– all weighed in, power projection and ability to intervene (outside Europe)much reduced for this decade

Your list is interesting:
– evidence from Sentinel, Typhoon = the first £28bn, the fleet with existing types could have been stretched (even)to the (delayed) F-35 cut-over
– Merlin, Nimrod and Watchkeeper; I don’t think any money has been wasted on Merlin (though better value going forward by consolidating the fleet) nor Watchkeeper (a timely stop-gap, but an anomaly in that “flown” by the army but requires a runway); Nimrod money would have been much better invested in a further run of Astutes (with VLS)while not giving anything away in ASW – quite the contrary, in fact

I just read, in Defence News 8/4/2011 story, that between now and 2014 another £22bn needs to be found in savings, in addition to what has been identified

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 27, 2011 3:51 pm

As someone rightly pointed out, we have/ will have roughly 60 of the main types each
– there is enough confusion about the unit costs, prgmme costs counted in/not
– has anyone seen any treatment of the through-life costs of these fleets, or just one of them?

Wibble
Wibble
April 27, 2011 6:00 pm

,

The point I was trying to make is the RAF never stops. We can not shut a sqn, let alone a unit down for 3-4 weeks as the other services do. This is often forgot as people bleat about harmony etc. While individuals can meet harmony a force, Sqn, unit does not and that is an important aspect that is often forgotten and seprates the RAF from the other 2 services.

JHC and therefore land dictate everything the RAF SH does. They set the hours, the currencies, the deployments etc. SH exists to support the Army no matter who flies the SH itself.

JHC will task a Force Commander to send a Force to complete a task be it exercise or ops and the Force Commander does it. JHC set the hours, the aircraft numbers and so on. So in the context of the argument what I said is correct although simplified some what.

JHC say jump, CHF, AAC or RAF jump. The RAF/CHF/AAC do not say can we jump? They may only limit the size of the jump if they can justify it. So while the background may be complicated, the concept is simple.

So going right back to the original point:
Mark said

“ Lets not forget just how vital a role CHF has played in Afghanistan (once again where is the vaunted and 40,000+ strong RAF?)”

No one is dis’in what the CHF have done but they are tasked by the same JHC that task RAF SH and JHC is owned by Land!!

The RAF for all its faults does not stop, it never resets it just keeps going. This probably causes things to fall through the gaps from time to time but that is another subject.

Wibble
Wibble
April 27, 2011 6:36 pm

Jed

I would rather have a short rest than no rest.

x
x
April 27, 2011 6:53 pm

@ Euan

No worries.

@ Wibble said “The RAF for all its faults does not stop, it never resets it just keeps going….”

T-shirt worthy matey.

paul g
April 27, 2011 7:00 pm

we can’t shut down and that seperates us from the other 2 services. I think not! and i’m speaking from experience. Do you honestly think barracks just de-kit the troops and then shut the gates for three weeks? You’ll find that a lot of the logistics, specialists etc, like you roulement troops for example my last unit supported to AAC regiments, therefore when 1 was in the sandpit and the other still in the UK troops deployed and troops remained (and it wasn’t a biff rear party) As you probably well know in depth servicing is planned months in advance. To summerise i think you have generalised a bit too much there, anyway let’s stick to the thread and not go down the my dads bigger than your dad and he’s got 2 sheds so there!! (for what it’s worth light blue airways has always got me home so i like them and i’ve got a timmys bar t shirt [falklands])

x
x
April 27, 2011 7:00 pm

Wibble said “why they are the first choice to guard airfields in theatre?”

I have it on good authority it is because “staggin on” for a career would be fraking boring.

@ TD re RM being land forces

Um. I will let you off on that one. But only just.

@ All

Why hasn’t anybody said anything nice about the KAI Surion?