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mike
mike
September 19, 2013 4:37 pm

I was glad I didn’t work on the Klassics, looked like a nightmare from an electrical systems pov… when they retire the J, then I’ll feel old :P

Challenger
Challenger
September 19, 2013 4:38 pm

How are the RAF plugging the gap between the older C-130 K’s leaving service and the Atlas arriving? I’m guessing it involves the C17’s and C-130 J’s being worked even harder in the interim?

Chris
Chris
September 19, 2013 5:07 pm

I remember being quite taken aback when I found one of the vehicles I helped design a dozen years before already a museum piece at the RA Firepower museum in Woolwich. To be fair it was one of the prototype trials vehicles, but it was still a shock.

On the subject of retiring aircraft though, C-130 will be in harness for a while yet, both here and abroad. A much sadder retirement comes up in a week or two when the RAF put their last VC-10s permanently on the ground. This from http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com:

“The remaining 3 VC10 K3 aerial tankers will continue in service until their retirement in October 2013, which will end the VC10′s tenure in RAF service. 101 Squadron, which operates all VC10s, is due to become the RAF’s 2nd A330 Voyager squadron.”

VC-10 like Concorde was a stunning aircraft when new. This will be the passing of a fine bit of engineering.

Challenger
Challenger
September 19, 2013 5:12 pm

So what’s plugging the gap between the old C-130K’s leaving service and the Atlas arriving? I’m assuming it involves working the C17’s and C-130J’s even harder in the interim?

Mark
Mark
September 19, 2013 5:49 pm

Chris

VC-10 flys her last operational sortie tomorrow a tour of the uk her calling points for anyone wanting a last look

http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafbrizenorton/newsweather/index.cfm?storyid=220D244C-5056-A318-A886E23E7E6AF909

Fedaykin
September 19, 2013 6:24 pm

@Challenger

Complex answer really, yes they are going to sweat the metal more with the Juliet Hercules and C17 but in the sandbox the UOR acquired Bae 146 C3 are standing in for the C130K.

Challenger
Challenger
September 20, 2013 4:26 pm

Lets hope the extra 146’s get retained after Herrick (actually a few more would be nice!).

I really don’t want to see the RAF’s entire transport force come down to just 22 A400m and 8 C17 (with some secondary lift provided by the tanker fleet).

If the money could be found down the back of the sofa for an extra C17 last year then surely a couple more could be funded (haven’t Boeing kept a few slots open in the slowing production line for extra exports?). The Germans and Spanish are going to try and sell off some of their A400m as well, those good as new air-frames could be a bargain.

I think something like 30 A400m, 10 C17 and a few 146’s would be a decent level of capability and a good force mix to aim for.

Mark
Mark
September 20, 2013 5:29 pm

Challenger

Boeing has decided to close the c17 production line at the end of next year. All remain aircraft under production about 22 are being sold to foreign governments mainly India.

El Sid
El Sid
September 20, 2013 6:50 pm

@Mark
You’ve misread http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/asd_09_19_2013_p04-01-618308.xml

There’s 22 more will be made, and it’s certain they won’t go to the US military so in that sense they will end up with foreign governments, but 13 of them do not have a customer yet. Obviously Boeing think that existing customers might want an extra one or two, and closing the line will help concentrate minds.

Mark
Mark
September 20, 2013 7:34 pm

El sid

Thanks hadn’t realised they were building white tails

Fedaykin
September 21, 2013 12:03 pm

@Challenger

I seriously doubt the BAe146 C3 will be kept post Afghanistan let alone more purchased. They are UOR acquired to plug the gap in tactical transport capability in theatre with the C130K draw down and free up Chinook from performing resupply runs to outlying bases.

To keep BAe146 C3 means paying the treasury over 70% of their value (how many times do I have to type this now? – people really do like to ignore that problem with UOR). Actually the Royal Squadron BAe146 was on the slope to retirement anyway and there have been studies into alternatives including increased leasing of civilian aircraft. On a side note I find it humiliating that third world countries field appropriate aircraft to carry dignitaries and government officials yet we don’t. Remember when the Blair government tried to get some Boeing 737 or equivalent and all the lefties and general whiners came out of the wood work saying how awful it would be. I am not asking for a large wide body like Air Force One but an appropriate narrow body with legs would suit me. A suitable narrow body in a quick change configuration including the large cargo doors would of also been highly useful ferrying troops into Afghanistan and Iraq, they could even of looked at a centreline HDU and bolt on wing pods turning it into a tactical tanker and perfect replacement for the VC10. But I digress…

The BAe 146 C3 were a way to get tactical transport into theatre as quick as possible with out having to go through an acceptance process for a completely new type.

The transport future is A400M, A330, C17 and Chinook. That is what the budget can spare and that is what we are going to get. Anything else is wistful thinking as it stands.

Challenger
Challenger
September 21, 2013 1:18 pm

Thanks for the clarification regarding the 146’s, it makes complete sense that it was the aircraft of choice for a fast and cheap UOR when the A400m’s were yet again delayed and the C-130K’s are clapped out and leaving service.

If they aren’t retained after Herrick it won’t be a massive loss of capability and hopefully the studies into a replacement for the royal squadron aircraft will bear some fruit.

I agree the future will be a mix of C17, A400m and A330 (plus Chinook). 60 Chinook’s sounds like a good number to me, especially with a shrinking Army and lower expectations of what we will be able to commit to an operation and kept in theater on an enduring basis. I like to think though that we could be in a better position post 2020 to be able to pick up a few of those second-hand A400m from the Germans and Spanish to boost the fleet to around 30 air-frames.

What El Sid said about Boeing’s C17 production line is interesting as well. Id dearly love to see a couple more pressed into RAF service and it sounds like if Boeing really have produced a few more air-frames for not as yet allocated exports that beyond India the UK is probably a prime candidate for additional sales.

30 A400m and 10 C17 sounds like a reasonable minimum level of capability that would provide a good equivalent to the 50ish Hercules that were in service all those years ago and 25 A400m + 25 C130J’s that was the original plan before Telic/Herrick, A400m delays and the SDSR got in the way….

paul g
September 21, 2013 1:35 pm

I have to admit i’m saying this through the most clenched I can get my teeth, without causing an emergency trip to the dentist, but, what if (to get round this UOR/core budget bollocks) the MOD gave the 2 146’s to airtanker on the proviso that they got the tanker conversion done and they could operate it down south. It’s already fitted with the defensive aid suite, and technically it’s doing them a favour as you can’t rent out a voyager for non tanking stuff if it’s stuck all the way out there!
I suppose if airtanker took on 4 or 5 of these then it’s squares away a rotary wing refuelling capability as well, and or they can do biz jet stuff when not tanking which would probably be more lucrative as well. I know offering more work to this PFI crock of shit goes against the grain but it would be cost effective in the long run plus I don’t recall the wokkas having refuelling down south when I was there and it would be handy to give them a better range

Fedaykin
September 21, 2013 2:33 pm

@paul g

The most recent reports I have seen show AirTanker is dead set on operating the A330 from MPA however unsuited it is and despite the fact that a couple if tanker equipped A400M make far more sense, replacing the C130J and VC10 (now Tristar). Using the BAe 146 C3 is an interesting idea but I am doubtful the MOD will bite. I am betting that AirTanker are looking at all sorts of lovely extended fees they will have to charge over an above the base contract to keep the A330 at MPA. Is the hanger even suited? Or will there need to be a new hanger?

@Challenger

Nice idea to take on the spare German and Spanish A400M but the UK has already cut the procurement numbers to make the budgets meet. To be fair you still raise a good point as I see no reason why extra airframes could be restored to the order books post 2020 SSDR if there is spare money in the kitty. The aircraft should be solidly into production so buying more might be cheaper later on.

I am fairly positive about the A400M, it has a bigger cargo box then the C130J, better payload, retains its rough field capabilities and has jet like cruise performance. The other advantage is they will be factory fresh meaning better availability then our rapidly ageing C130J fleet.

Challenger
Challenger
September 21, 2013 3:21 pm

The cost and quite severe delays aside I’m sure the A400m will turn out to be a good aircraft and you’re quite right that a new factory fresh fleet should provide significantly better availability over the increasingly worn out C-130J. It’s the old problem though of an aircraft (or ship, or tank or person) not being able to be in two places at once. Even with larger capacities and lift strengths 22 A400m and 8 C17 are still going to be subject to that rule as well as the same maintenance and upgrade cycles that any other air-frame goes through. My feeling is the respective fleets are going to worked a lot harder than initially expected.

Lets hope the purse strings are a bit looser in a decades time and the MOD has the sense to at least consider buying some of those good as new A400m off-casts.

Fedaykin
September 21, 2013 4:04 pm

What is more pressing to me is the C17 issue, with Boeing getting ready to draw down production after the Indian order we are rapidly running out of time to buy any more. I would like ten as it is a nice round number, it would allow us to further balance the hours across the fleet and extend their service life. I would be interested to see what a C17 mid-life overhaul and SLEP looks like.

Mark
Mark
September 21, 2013 6:52 pm

The a400m is hoped to have dispatch reliability similar to an a320 but a few more would be nice.

The bae146 may not be adequate for the Falklands tasking. Any tanker down there would need to have the capability of taking 2 qra configured typhoons to there divert airfield in the event mount pleasure is black with necessary margins. A400m can I’m not sure a 146 with only around 18 tn offload could. An a330 will be down there unless the aar equip the herc j as Tristar osd in March 2014

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 21, 2013 6:55 pm

@ Mark

What is the official diversion strip?

Mark
Mark
September 21, 2013 7:02 pm

Apas

I believe it is somewhere in chile but they usually need to get there without going thru Argie airspace.

Challenger
Challenger
September 22, 2013 11:59 am

Yeah if what El Sid is true then Boeing have produced a few more C17 for further exports, almost certainly for the Indian Air-force (I’m sure once they get to grips with their first 10 they will want a few more) and after them for the RAF. If we want any more then your right that we will have to make the decision soon. In my head 12 is a good number to have 2 squadrons of 6, but I don’t think that is a particularly realistic ambition!

An extra 2 would represent a major enhancement in capability and as you say would help the wider fleet when it comes to maintenance cycles and then a mid-life upgrade/overhaul.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
September 22, 2013 12:37 pm

Gents,

Good points all, but post Afghanistan what will be the need for heavy lift transport aircraft? To where will we want to fly so many troops and their associated kit that 10 or 12 C17s will be necessary?

To expand that question, where will come the need for amphibious operations on any significant scale? A hostage rescue or perhaps an evacuation, is possible even probable, but an invasion requiring more than a few dozen troops, I don’t think so. There is no public appetite, and hence no political will, left for optional wars and maintaining the kit to enable us to do expeditionary warfare is, I suggest, just a waste of precious money that should actually be spent of on defence.

How about a competition? A bottle of decent whisky (Lagavulin or Laphroaig) to the poster who can come up with the most credible* scenario, to take place in the next 10 years or so, which would see the UK needing to put ashore, via amphibious assault, more than a commando-sized battle group, or one which would need 10 C17s.

*Credible in this context to mean circumstances such that the vital interests of the UK were threatened to such a degree that a majority of the limp-wristed, lace-panty folk in the commons would vote for war.

Fedaykin
September 22, 2013 1:34 pm

@HurstLlama

You kind of have your answer already to as to why adding to extra C17 would be useful already in the replies but just to go over it again. Adding two airframes would be advantageous as it would allow balancing of the fleet airframe life and maintenance cycles through to the projected out of service date of the type. The earlier procured examples have been worked harder then was projected and number eight was procured to balance fleet life rather then give extra capacity. Adding two more would not be about adding lift capacity albeit it would be a bonus side effect if a crisis surge situation. Each year the C17 is projected to fly “X” number of hours, a couple of more airframes would not mean an increase of hours across the fleet but rather a reduction of hours per airframe. This allows reduced maintenance burden and bridges the fleet to projected OSD or an extension to a SLEP and later OSD.

To answer your other question about commando-sized battle group and ten C17, consider this as a rhetorical answer. In 1976 we retired ten Shorts Belfast and sold five to TAC HeavyLift, on the 1st of April 1981 Hms Invincible and Hermes were marked for sale to Australia and India respectively and the Amphibious assault vessels Fearless and Intrepid were marked for the scrap yard. The people who drew up the plans to get rid of them all were just as adamant as you are now that they were no-longer needed. By the end of that day they were proven very much wrong, all those ships and the remaining Shorts Belfast were needed! You can’t predict for the future so the best you can do is prepare for all contingencies, our C17 are heavily worked now beyond what they are doing supporting Herrick, they offer unique capabilities beyond transporting troops and the RAF is very keen to husband them.

So as that is not a direct answer can have a bottle of Navy rum instead…this is what I prefer:

https://www.pussers.com/

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
September 23, 2013 12:11 pm

Mr. Fedaykin,

I well remember John Nott’s disastrous defence review and was agin it at the time it was announced (well before Mr Galtieri kicked off). It was clearly a daft move; the cold war was in full swing, we had commitments to put marines ashore in Norway and amphibious capability was very much needed.

I am not, as you say, adamant that our our amphibious capability is no longer needed, I just can’t envisage a scenario in the short to medium term where we would need it. The point of offering the bottle was to encourage some of the grown-ups on here to enlighten me, to show me where my thought was deficient. I do of course accept your point that we cannot predict the future and we should be prepared to cope with what comes up, but that must be tempered with the judgement of risk and in line with foreign and defence policy.

That policy will, and should be, governed by what the public will accept and the likely threat to the vital interest of the UK. My belief is that the public has had a gut-full of taking part in optional wars and will not tolerate another for a very long time. Expeditionary warfare is, I suggest, of the menu for the foreseeable future, unless the nations vital interests are in jeopardy.

Leaving aside, those Islands in the South Atlantic (which are now more than adequately defended), what are the threats that could endanger the UK, or at least the survival of HMG? I see two, nuclear for which we have the CASD, and interruption of trade. As an example, last winter at one point we were down to a few days supply of gas if a couple, or perhaps even one, tanker from Qatar had not arrived as planned we would have been in the sh!t. Amphibious capability or extra C17s can’t help with the latter MCM and ASW assets can.

So in a nutshell, my premise is that when budgets are so tight and public appetite for war is so low then resources need to be concentrated to defend against what can really hurt us and not spent on retaining capabilities for which no one can actually envisage a use.

To the C17s, I note you say that they are heavily worked beyond flying troops and kit to Afghanistan. Doing what? What are they flying and to where? I genuinely cant imagine. The Falklands, Cyprus, Germany? Where have we got people and kit that need Crab Air to be so heavily involved? Has nobody in the MoD heard of FedEx?

As to your claim for a bottle of Pussers’, I think its a cheek. I offer a prize for someone who can answer a question, you answer a different, and unasked question, and then claim a different prize. Sheeesh. Still I did offer so I suppose I had best cough up. Mr. Think Defence has my email, if you tell him where the bottle should be sent he can pass it on to me and I will do the necessary.

All the best

A Gloomy HurstLlama

Mark
Mark
September 23, 2013 5:04 pm

I see there has been reporting today for the first time that 4 c130js will be retired in 2016 and so it begins. Maybe suitable for conversions or replaced with something else……

Fedaykin
September 23, 2013 5:40 pm

Rhetorical answers can be like that ;-) I will pm TD with details.

I hated to pull out the “Remember the Falklands” line as it is a bit overused in my opinion, but as I said you can’t predict everything. John Nott should of fallen on his sword directly after the invasion, he was only persuaded to stay on as far as I see it as his resignation that day would probably of brought the government. I shudder to think what would of happened if there had been a snap election there and then with Michael Foot winning. A lucky escape.

The RAF C17 do some interesting stuff beyond troop hauling, the most interesting is flying large stuff like engines when aircraft break down out of the country.

I agree I will be very interested to see the A400M and C17 utilisation rate after 2020 when everything has settled down. Currently we are flogging the C17, if that is the case in a decade? We shall see. Certainly the recent support of the French with our C17 fleet show how the capability can be needed at very short notice.

So no hard feelings.

How about if you give your details to TD I can send you a few special bottles of Harveys beer, when I was a student I worked at that brewery and have a good idea what is good and bad.

ChrisM
ChrisM
September 23, 2013 6:21 pm

Wont the C17s be useful for flying things into places that we don’t want civilians to know about?

For example into Kenya or parts of Somalia……I would guess the gloves are off now.
When you don’t want to put troops on the ground then flying supplies in and local troops about (as in Mali) is a very useful contribution.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
September 23, 2013 6:32 pm

Mr. Fedaykin,

I await the email from TD, when your parcel arrives it will contain my address, but no need to bother with the Harvey’s, I drink too much of it as it is. I was down in Cliff High Street last week and had a few pints of their Best in the Gardener’s – absolute nectar; crystal clear, foaming head, just at the right temperature, gorgeous barmaid, tallish, slender, firm high …. Sorry, quite forgot where I was.

Genuinely surprised by your news of how busy the C17s are on non-Herrick work. Who knew that we had so many planes flying, and conking out, in foreign parts to keep RAF Transport Command so busy?

Tinkerty-tonk

Fedaykin
September 23, 2013 7:16 pm

It is chucklesome indeed! Unfortunately the non Herrick work is very much related to keeping Victors and Tristars running far beyond what is a reasonable OSD for the types. The Army and Navy also like them for their ability to rapidly lunk heavy bits around the world when the call goes out. As I said I will be interested to see what the utilisation rates are post Herrick. The RAF are very keen to keep them and I don’t see any particular service self interest in that, they are bloody useful and it saves on chartering a civil flight.

Ahhh the gardeners! So you know Lewes well!

I grew up in Lewes, only left due to work commitments in 2007. I am back every year to march with my Bonfire society on the 5th. Lets say my family are well known in Lewes, my father is in the paper often (for good civic reasons before I get any jokes about visits to the Police station). Strangely when you see my name you will instantly know who my father is if your local to Lewes.

Well if not Harveys as you clearly have access already I have another idea but will keep to myself until I get your address.

Mark
Mark
October 18, 2013 7:41 pm

LONDON — The Royal Air Force will axe the final C-130K special force Hercules from its fleet of airlifters by the end of this month. The Defence Ministry is cannibalizing the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft of its defensive aids suite to fit into some of the C-130J models being equipped to fill the role according to the MoD.

In an unrelated move, the British have opted to skip the Block 7 update for its J models and incorporate the modifications in their aircraft along with the new Block 8.1 improvements program being led by the US Air Force as part of an international program.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20131018/DEFREG01/310180018/UK-Air-Force-Retire-its-C-130Ks