Merlin EO Turret

Nice picture of a Merlin HM1 fitted with an Electro Optical turret, you don’t tend to see many images from the MoD showing them fitted for some reason

Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter

Remember everyone, commonality is a now a dirty word

And here is one from Selex that the UK funded its development and fitted to the Chinook fleet

Selex Titan EO Turret
Selex Titan EO Turret

 

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Chris Werb
Chris Werb
October 28, 2013 11:21 am

That positioning must severely limit field of view.

Bob
Bob
October 28, 2013 11:27 am

It’s also tiny. A less than idea solution.

x
x
October 28, 2013 12:08 pm

I can see why EOD would be useful for Chinook even though it strays into “luxury” territory as there is a lot of stuff that can be flown into over the land and they lack radar. But over the sea not so much. If we had a missile for Merlin like Marte then perhaps the need to identify before firing would come into play. But for the most above the sea I suppose radar and altimeter are enough.

Mark
Mark
October 28, 2013 12:09 pm

I also don’t believe mk2 is nvg complient as standard. Requires a further small software tweek for that again will be done as a uor for a handful of a/c along with a das upgrade.

X do they not use eo turrets to id ships!

x
x
October 28, 2013 12:22 pm

@ Mark

Yes. Not saying they aren’t needed and should be fitted with them. But in a policing situation you could fly close enough to see the ship, identify it from AIS and owner’s records etc. If you had to press the button on live ordinance it would be a different matter. I am juts trying to reason out why the RAF can find the money to fit out a large transporter (for a very reasonable amount) with a device while the RN can only just scrape the money together for 4 in an emergency on what is a sensor(/attack) platform. RN prioritizes ASW. That places like the Gulf require better surface sensors sort of pokes a hole in all that. As does the lack of a heavy missile for Merlin…………

mike
mike
October 28, 2013 12:33 pm

@ X & Mark (apologies if you already know this)

The FAA’s budget is smaller I guess, they rightly targeted obsolescence over extra content. The RAF has the bigger fleet and dedicated funds, not to mention how much the Chinook has been in demand and awareness.

The EO turret has many uses; use it for targeting of the helicopters weapons, to ID ships, threats and anything of interest without putting the helicopter at risk… as you know the helicopter itself is an extension of a ships’ reach. Thus reducing threat to an important part of a ships system/arsenal.

Not to mention ISR capabilities, recon and also targeting for the ships or other aircrafts weapons.

Then there is its use for overland or ‘littoral’ operations, to aid flying in adverse weather/night and also to check out LZ’s, hence why the Chinook fleet have them as near-standard now. Though I know the HM1/2 crowd are a bit ‘softer’ than their CHF/RAF colleagues in operating over a predominantly flat surface, (A joke! our 30 odd of these would be too busy working over sea and too valuable to the fleet for much mischief near/over the coast), but its still staggering how its funding was not included. Perhaps the thought “we have it on Lynx, they’ll do” won?

Perhaps the “always at sea” argument won – and with Lynx, any battle group would have a lynx or two with the kit. The HM2 job is primarily hauling things, listening for and prosecuting threats and – we hope – flying with radar pods strapped to them, but a EO sensor is standard now on Naval helicopters and would have been another string to its many.

But this option TD shows was what I thought they had… should develop it more so its retractable…so it can hang lower and give a wider arc of view, instead of forcing the helicopter to present its large side to any electronic eye and/or target.

Mark
Mark
October 28, 2013 12:40 pm

x

Was gonna say cause the head of the Air Force is a helicopter pilot but then so is the head of the navy!

Very capable helicopter mind especially the mk2 from the sounds of it. But we always seem to just not quite round these things off

Chris
Chris
October 28, 2013 12:45 pm

Its a few years back now but I think I was told there was a clear long-standing RN ROE that any potential target had to be identified by Mk1 eyeball before engagement by air assets – electronic sensors not positive enough. The nominal method was to get a low-level SHAR screaming in-and-over to ID then once definitively marked ‘enemy’ other assets could attack by EO/radar/link track etc. Now the Fleet Air Arm is devoid of fast jets, I guess that particular ROE has been forced to change…

SR
SR
October 28, 2013 1:29 pm

Visual ID is still paramount to all operations, not just naval operations. The lack of the EO turret is a serious oversight, but is funding driven.

Perhaps this rams home the point I have made before – there simply are no spare funds. Programme upgrades decided upon some years ago cannot easily be changed on a whim. Unlike the Army and RAF, the RN is fully aware of the perils of simply shopping on a UOR credit card knowing full well that if brought to Core, it becomes either unaffordable or something else must be dropped. Bad enough that we lost so many airframes in the Mk2 upgrade. Lynx remains our primary surface attack platform and thuse there is no operational need to fit Merlin with an ASM. Of course we could – but then what do we sacrifice in its place?

Mark
Mark
October 28, 2013 1:33 pm

Thanks mike and sr very informative.

Chris I would have hoped thing would have moved on but it’s a heck of a high risk strategic in a shooting war.

Chris
Chris
October 28, 2013 1:54 pm

TD – no mention of Titan 385ES-HD EO turret on Selex corporate website other than news of contracts with RAF & German Navy. UK might have spent a fortune on their development but Selex doesn’t want to bother marketing them…

x
x
October 28, 2013 1:56 pm

@ mike

You see I am quite old fashioned and out of step with modern naval thinking because I believe the role of a navy is to go to sea to sink ships (be they ones that float on top or sink below, or ones that move cargo or are for fighting) that belong to the enemy. Seas are contested not for the sake of owning territory but so they can be used by friendly shipping of all types for all sorts of commerce. For many navies the primary platform (singular) is the ship-and-helicopter. And to simple minded me the Merlin Flying Frigate should have had a heavy ASuW from the start plus supporting sensors like EOD. But when this topic comes up it appears that have I failed to take aboard or just don’t have any knowledge of subtleties of helicopter operation at sea. I think last time I failed to understand how helicopters operate in relation to missile envelopes or something, that left me wondering why we bothered with big expensive helicopters, and so I am probably talking out of my exhaust on all this stuff.

Mark said ” we always seem to just not quite round these things off”

TD should put that in banner of the site’s homepage. :)

M&S
M&S
October 28, 2013 2:17 pm

My problem with this is you’ve got a 60 million (?) naval helicopter doing anti-piracy or whatever off the Horn or Anti-FIAC in the Gulf and for all that you have a 10-12nm EOID capability, your engagement options are limited to a .50 with 500-1,000m of Say Hello sticking out the side.

Not a wise value:risk posture.

Especially given that the threat has MANPADS on deck with just about all their go-fasts (they use them like pickets to screen for larger frigates and FAC-M) and prior to the arrival of FASGW-L; has anyone looked at something like what the Marines did with the AC-130W and the Griffin?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk1Me_AKxxU

http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_Harvest_HAWK_Derringer_Door_US_NAVAIR_lg.jpg

Think of it like a RORO sonobuoy pack that fires recoillessly out either open side door. Griffin has a powered version and if you could stack 8-12 missiles in the cabin, it would allow you to do orbit CAS on night raids or interdict FIAC targets from a wheel, another 2+ miles further out than you could with that gun package, especially with troops underneath the flyout lane.

The other thing that comes to mind is something like what they did with the Mi-24K Hind G2-

http://www.kamov.net/mil-mi-24-cat/mi-24k-mil-helicopter/

Wherein you have a large bore optical lens on the order of 20-30cm feeding an SFPA of suitably impressive 1064X1064 or better capabilities allowing your platform to really ‘ride the line’ of the bright haze layer, just above the optical horizon, at say 20nm or so where they can’t hear you and they likely can’t see you, even with powered optics of their own. This is what you might use for looking for boatlandings on beaches or covert underway boarding activity of passengers on ships.

The neck of the PG is only 35nm across. If you want to stay out of the littoral nastiness you had best be thinking in terms of not just immediate threats on the water but also those which can be salvoed from the beach or flown out to you in a blink.

I honestly don’t know whether you folks managed to save the Sentinel or not but this would be something like the Raptor Pod optics that were once mooted for that system, operating on a much shorter slants (less risk to a 200 million dollar platform, more resolution).

And of course, if you fold the optics path, you have the potential for this-

http://defense-update.com/images_large3/argus_is.jpg
http://defense-update.com/images_large3/argus_is.jpg
http://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/9a16a33e-462e-4149-a9a8-5f2e11c2c6b6.Full_.jpg

Which is not to say that a 150 knot helo at 10,000ft is necessarily your best option but if you’ve ever seen BHD you know that overhead provides the potential to give commander some serious route around options in situation like Mogadishu where downlook into constrained alleys and streets is uncertain and you are actively managing a battle with very limited on-ground force intel.

_IF_ you aren’t looking through a sodastraw.

Keep the optics on the platform, put the general in a CP with the data processor and 30″ plasma monitor, use a high bandwidth datalink to send the raw intel and hey presto-

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-N7GfiLbxa3Q/TnMa_J0Xq4I/AAAAAAAAAhU/A-YWhbCDmhw/s1600/Reaper+and+RAPTOR.jpg

All within a naval capable, VTOL, platform basing mode that is available tomorrow.

Obviously there is going to be jitter because of the platform type so you need some kind of elastomeric raft which dampens your optics payload (ala submarine acoustics silencing tech).

Something to consider when ISAR off the Kestrel just isn’t enough to ask the question “Say, isn’t he…?” And get a reliable-enough-to-shoot-the-man answer.

SR
SR
October 28, 2013 2:18 pm

x,

In all fairness, Merlin is a big fat bus that stands out a mile, and unless vis conditions are very very good it is easily detectable at the limit of visual range. Lynx – lower, faster – is a lot harder to track. We’d all like every asset to be more capable – dipping sonar or even Link in Lynx, better missiles on T23, TLAM in T45, etc – but without the blank chequebook, what do we sacrifice to get these ‘nice to haves’?

x
x
October 28, 2013 3:17 pm

@ SR

I know there are lots of nice to have capabilities, to be honest that goes without saying to such an extent that it makes the argument a bit redundant or empty as a counter. Never said we had the budget. All I am suggesting it is a capability gap. 90% of what we talk about here could be filed under nice to have if we had the budget. Seeing as the majority who post aren’t servicemen who freely admit they are far from experts then it does beggar the question of what you get from associating with us layman? Trotting out we can’t afford it is a actually thinking about it a bit of patronising argument especially coming from somebody who I surmise has lived off government coin all their working life.

Merlin is big? No shit Sherlock. When it comes to visual acuity the difference between Merlin and WIldcat is debatable at over 10nm. It will be the movement of the aircraft not its size that will attract attention. And seeing as neither aircraft is particular stealthy I suspect to modern radar that their respective size difference is moot. Seeing as the Italian navy is designed to fight primarily in the congested waters of the Mediterranean the size of Merlin of doesn’t seem to bother them. Lots of nations have fitted large ASuW missiles to helicopters. It appears that your argument is once again the RN doesn’t do it therefore it mustn’t be worth doing for the RN is the font of all naval knowledge when really it is the RN can’t afford to do it. Passing off the the former as cover for the latter makes you appear a bit mean, intellectually bereft, or both. I bow to you as a professional. But when the evidence from other sources suggest that the RN may not be quite correct on issue it would be wrong for me to say my nation’s navy wrong or right. Do the Americans not field Penguin? Do the Italians not field Marte Sea Killer on Merlin? Are both those weapons not demonstrably larger than the outgoing Sea Skua? You may have a case if the sole support for my argument was Pakistani Sea Kings carrying Exocets. But when it two major NATO navies one fielding the same helicopter and the other which went out to buy heliborne missiles because of RN success with such in GW1 your argument looks thin.

Nice to have but can’t afford it? Why bother even typing that in? If you don’t have anything better to say go feed the bloomin’ seagulls.

Engineer_Tom
Engineer_Tom
October 28, 2013 5:07 pm

Is it just me that thinks the positioning of the EO turret on th wildcat is a bit off as well, on top of the nose, no vertical down or rear views possible with it.

x
x
October 28, 2013 5:12 pm

I did a longer ranty post which has been consumed by the Spam Eater which contained this video.

Mark
Mark
October 28, 2013 5:43 pm

TD that post reminded me of the film Apollo 13 when they were talking about round and square co2 filter which ended with the line, tell me this isn’t a government operation!

x and to think already integrated, if a lynx could carry one you could do away with that joint French project there not to keen on. It’s even been ground trialled on a typhoon. The Italians also have a merlin aew too don’t know who useful it is mind.

Just to add this is were the Italians have there eo turret http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/middle/9/8/4/0368489.jpg

x
x
October 28, 2013 5:53 pm

@ Mark

It isn’t Harpoon but in terms of us having too few helicopters of two different types flying off too few hulls needed in far too many places I think it is of some interest. My rant was about being dismissed by Somewhat with the rather patronising we can’t afford it argument like I don’t know we can’t afford stuff mixed in with a less than subtle hint of we are professionals and you ain’t that really grinded my gears. But heck we are defended at sea by the USN anyway who thankfully don’t seem adverse to using ordnance unlike the modern RN that is more concerned with EW and political correctness. Sad really. :(

SR
SR
October 28, 2013 6:16 pm

x,

Okay, well someone’s grumpy.

I gain a huge amount by ‘associating with you laymen’ (what a crap comment!). Amazingly I can appreciate, even value other people’s perspectives, ESPECIALLY those outside the military. The Services have repeatedly demonstrated their blind spots and make some very silly decisions – this thread is one of them.

However, in respecting the content on TD I would rather inform people of the reality of our situation. If you would like this to be a comple fantasy fleet site, then by all means. But the content needs to be relevant, which is why I feel obliged to contribute. The bottom line, unpalatable as it might be to you, is that the Services, and especially the Navy (which is my perspective), are operating at a very worrying and untenable pace, yet the funds continue to die, the ships are ageing and the tasking is unchanged, even increasing in some areas.

So, rather than some unnecessary sniping, how about we use that collective intelligence and start figuring out some valuable insights as to how we deal with the issue? Wishing for more money doesn’t work – we tried that before and got a bill for £35BN.

Is the Royal Navy always right? No, we are most certainly not. But we are the Royal fucking Navy – we deliver above and beyond any other Navy in the world. Our sailors are the best in the business. We lead the world in tactics and capabilities – the world comes to US for training, advice and leadership, not the other way around. We have proven time and time again that we can deliver more capability per hull than anyone else, and we continue to deliver effect around the world better than anyone else, including the vaunted Americans. And we do this despite a tiny budget, slashing cuts, a vast bureaucracy biased towards British Industry instead of the front line and total disinterest from Government and the other two Services, who would rather fight the single most pointless land campaign in history – again. So maybe, just maybe, we have a vaid perspective to add.

Oh, and please don’t lower yourself to cheap lines about taking government coin. Some of us actually try and earn our military salaries. And I’m sure the YouTube clip was hilarious – but thanks to the MOD it’s blocked.

TD, sorry for the swear, I’ll put a pound in the ‘Donate’ jar.

Mark
Mark
October 28, 2013 6:40 pm

x

These things are all options and perhaps things we can spend money on as it becomes available and hopefully as the services are more involved they can add these things on which are less sexy but add a lot, I think SR has a point about budget and not getting to carried away.

I happen to think the US can get to trigger happy for want of a better word and this can leads to problems of its own so favouring EW options is no bad thing probably harder to make people believe that it works and prob harder to justify but I would I suppose compare it to our police forces and there police forces in a everyday civi world.

mike
mike
October 28, 2013 8:02 pm

@ X

Well, the helicopter and ship are one system, amen! So do count it itself as part of the warship. Its primary aim should be to sink enemy vessels… at the moment it can only sink subs (its reason of existence), surprised we haven’t added a missile yet. I hope the RN has not forgotten the success the FAA had in Air-ship missile engagements in 82 :/

@ SR
Your comment re the stretch and professionalism of the services despite increasing difficulties is applicable to the other services, ‘taking the coin’ is all well and good; but the people giving that coin should equip and fund the lad/ladies if they wish the job to be done/nothing to break. I wish I could thumbs up comments sometimes.

@ TD

I think it was right for them to focus solely on obsolescence of the systems of the HM2 when the funds were not forthcoming (perhaps if it was too big an upgrade, the bat-ears of the treasury would have noticed too much?).

I can let the absence of an EO turret slide as the photo clearly shows that we already have *something* if the need arises.

However the lack of NVG compatible cockpit smacks of saving pennies and is pretty damn stupid – I did not know that it did not have what must be a crucial capability for operating safely at sea at night and ensuring the ship has its helicopter when it needs it. My respect for puddle pirate Merlin crews has +1ed alright.

SR
SR
October 28, 2013 10:47 pm

Sorry all for the rant earlier – very unprofessional.

A couple of gritty realities on helo ops at sea.

NVG – not for a second will I condone the absence of NVG compatibility on a modern aircraft. However, it is not the wonder tool it is made out to be, nor is it critical to flight safety. NVG is a light amplifier, so for a start there must be some background light. A cloudy night at sea is absolutely dark. Also, an excess of light will overload an NVG set – which is why we have to dim all external lighting when operating an aircraft on NVG. NVG also limits your field of view and can affect depth perception. So, the use of NVG is optional for our Lynx pilots, and can, in some circumstances, be a liability. Many pilots prefer flying without NVG at sea, at night. As I say, not suggesting NVG isn’t useful but neither is it critical to safe operations at night.

Merlin was designed for ASW, and ASW remains its primary role. Its sensors are optimised for submarine detection. The liklihood of detecting an SSN by visual means is infinitesimal. The liklihood of detecting an SSK by visual means is far less than that of detection by radar or sonar, especially the Blue Kestrel which is bloody phenomenal. So, by virtue of an outdated master requirement, a need to address obsolescence and a lack of funding, an EOD is a relatively low priority. Again, I am not saying we must not use it for other roles, but we should use platforms that are optimised for specific tasks, for those specific tasks.

EODs work well in the land environment where it is usually relatively dry. At sea, with high atmospheric moisture contents, they are frequently limited in range. I speak only to compare it to fighter camera systems, which operate at much higher (and drier) altitudes.

Merlin does not need an attack capability, because that is not its role in a task force. If we have Merlin in the force, they will be doing ASW. Lynx will conduct the ASuW tasks. Lynx is smaller, more agile, and has a significantly smaller RCS. It is optimised for low, penetrating attacks, visually identifying its target by EOD befor engaging at the maximum practical range. The whole Lynx/Seaspray/Sea Skua combination was designed around this requirement. Many SAM systems can engage further than that effective range. A Merlin would be a large, cumbersome target, therefore if it is to operate in the ASuW role, it needs to gain further standoff range (bigger missiles as mentioned), and also risks being unable to visually identify its target.

Naval counter piracy is an aberration and, as I have said before, not a military task. It is a civil task, for coastguards and police, not warships.

If the Italian Navy wants to use Merlin for ASuW and AEW, well bully for them. I’m not aware of the Italian Navy being much of a global force with any real operational experience. We have SKASAC and Lynx for those roles. Both are battle proven, the Lynx with numerous kills to its name, none of which were major warships. We have Harpoon for long range engagements against larger targets (probably marked by either Lynx or Merlin), and the view is that such engagements are unlikely in the current and/or percieved future environment. This may be proven wrong in future, but the reality has held up pretty well so far. Other opinions are also valid. We cannot deal with all eventualities, only those for which we forsee an reason to act.

Mark
Mark
October 28, 2013 11:20 pm

mike

The merlins that go East of suez are nvg compatible the rest aren’t so I’m guessing the small tweaks required to make it happen are to do with cockpit lighting rather than the displays. I don’t believe the navy even train it as basic it’s an as required thing. I don’t know the reasons why but it does seem a strange thing to not do.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
October 29, 2013 10:22 am

Regards NVG training/peacetime use something that just popped into my head is that if we train our pilots to use NVG’s on a regular basis what happens to their night flying skills, surely they will degrade over time, whereas if they are issued only when needed in exceptional circumstances, this will help them retain skills, also on a slightly lighter note their aren’t many mountains you can fly into out to sea.

M&S
M&S
October 30, 2013 3:42 am
Reply to  Engineer Tom

Doesn’t work that way.

You have to modify your scan to both account for glare of instruments and from the sea as the moon and stars can both generate ‘mirror’ and ‘horizon wrap’ conditions which someone without recent NVG experience can use to fly right into the drink. Particularly in rough seas, you have to check, constantly, for different visual vs. radalt averaged reference points as attitude and altitude cues looking out the side doors since down through the foot windows doesn’t do it and can induce big time leans.

OTOH, if you are flying in a busy sea lane, trying to track boats from the FLIR to a point off your nose where you can convert inwards and do an approach to hover is also not easy with the human eye as you have to transition from instrument to external scan using inverse (real shadow vs. white hot) color cues as you move from a parallel opposed track to abeam and then crosswind like any landing approach.

NVGs can help here because they provide real neck-angle vs. image grain and scale cues as a function of how much is visible within the goggle FOV. But this also requires practice-practice as imprinted vision memory because you have to know when to make the move and not be tempted to look back within the cockpit for things like compass point corrections.

Crew coordination with the copilot running instruments is essential here.

There may not be too many mountains but finding and orientating on the minnows is certainly not easy.

It may be a Phrog but it swims like an anchor…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSjD6a4PeW0

Note the difference in perspective distance scaling
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty1n4XapTq0

There is no amount of ‘night flying skills’ that can replace visual object field orientation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51rhkoiPnGE

Observer
Observer
October 30, 2013 10:02 am

M&S, I so totally agree, speaking as someone who once rode a bike into a tree while using NVGs, almost garrotted myself by misjudging the distance between me and a rope cordon while on the same night exercise and watched a platoon commander ride full speed into a ditch thinking it was an NVG shadow. Bloody zero depth perception on the damn things until you see the object expanding in your view.

The next gen of these things now involves night vision monocles so as to keep one eye free to perceive depth.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
October 30, 2013 11:59 am

Thinking well into the future, I wonder if we will ever get to the point where the pilot won’t need to visually look out the window, ie a virtual reality system, using either in a near future scenario just external cameras, and in the distant future radar and other sensors being able to build up a 3d world to overlay on the image. I am not thinking just aircraft, it would also act as a great periscope for a vehicle, and even in a network centric role allowing a ground commander to be able to see what an aircraft overhead can.

This could also then be ported over to UAV’s to provide a more in depth flying experence.

M&S
M&S
October 30, 2013 1:58 pm
Reply to  Observer

Obs,
I look at this from the perspective of things like Desert One which went flaming in a heartbeat thanks to poor NVG competencies driving a wingtip into a rotor and also reference the Germans putting together some basic OTS kit for a couple of their SOF dedicated NH-90s a few years back.

I realize the HM.1 is likely stuffed to the gills with heavy ASW/ASST and assorted navalization features which would be hard to strip and replace but compare this to our own MH-60R which has basically gone from ‘plane guard’ to all purpose naval attack and insertion platform for both over the beach and naval MIO ops.

It’s an SH-60B. Except it’s not.

In the AW101 airframe you have something nearer to the MH-53 in size and that means you could put a complete VBSS team aboard in a single lift off the ramp winch rather than splitting them between two down and away birds.

If you could keep the ERH and tail/blade fold kit from the naval version while having just a couple that are otherwise army-rated in terms of armor, bladder tanks and weapons positions, PLUS VISIONICS you could effectively go to your specops community and say “Kick the kitty.” for an all-RN delivery asset.

Now, maybe SBS or the RMC already have their own ways and means (surely the Commando is retired out by now…?) but that’s how I would go about it because the goes bump boys are always looking for a platform to get a little deeper/faster/harder.

The latter is important because the NH-90 is underpowered and smallish for it’s class but the AW101 is a triengine bird and should be quite capable in a lot of hot and high places with the potential of vehicle delivery on something in the gator or even a defender(?) size range.

It never makes sense to give up mph getaway speed to jump straight into combat without mounted weapons. If the detection threat is real bad, you can walk it in for the last 5-10 klicks but that rescue-me option is just too nice not to have if things go twisty.

If nothing else you are risking your recovery ride to uncertain welcome with a direct insert on the objective under conditions where most medium lift helos don’t have ramp doors or a big enough hold for roll off of transports, Merlin does (though this will cost you the tail fold…).

Make -that- argument and you might even get JSOC to listen to you.

Either way, it needs a lot of hours under goggle to fly the Low/NOE profile with competency, even on a dead flat sea. A couple dedicated special operations aircraft gives you that excuse for your Teams. If you don’t have residual in-house competencies, dial up SOAR. They’ll get you rated.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
October 31, 2013 9:41 am

@R – I have to disagree with you about Piracy – in the absence of effective civil authorities, or on the high seas dealing with Piracy has been a Naval task since the Greek City States put fleets to sea…and was one of the pre-eminent tasks of the Royal Navy when it held the pole position now occupied by the Cousins (along with suppressing the Slave Trade). If anything, the Post World War Two concentration on fighting a hot war on a global scale against a peer enemy represents the anomaly…until then keeping the sea lanes open, sending gunboats and providing an expeditionary capability as and when required represented business as usual year in and year out; and the first certainly included handling pirates off lawless coasts and on the high seas.

GNB

Dunservin
Dunservin
October 31, 2013 11:17 am

@GNB

“…If anything, the Post World War Two concentration on fighting a hot war on a global scale against a peer enemy represents the anomaly…”

– …or even on a regional scale.

– Such anomalies have had an annoying habit of manifesting themselves, often with little warning. The RN must therefore retain, maintain and develop its ability to deal with them at short notice while utilising the same assets to help prevent their occurence and handle anything else (e.g. defence diplomacy, equipment & tactical trials, multi-national multi-threat training, piracy, smuggling, disaster relief, etc.) that happens to come its way. These tasks are not mutually exclusive for high-end warships and often provide valuable challenge, variety and synergies.

The RN has fought to retain what high-end capabilities it has because they could never be regenerated in time to cope with sudden emergency, It cannot afford to sacrifice any of them in favour of dedicated low-end capability which would either prove a hindrance in such circumstances or be relatively quick and easy to acquire if needed (e.g. modifying civilian vessels via the release of contingency funding). UOR action could even see the rapid fitting of RN Merlins with a sophisticated EOD (Electro-Optical Director not Explosive Ordnance Disposal); at least the platform and associated kit would be available. :-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
October 31, 2013 6:48 pm

@Dunservin’ – Completely agree – I am a fully paid up member of the “Build more Ships” Tendency; but my fantasy fleet shopping list includes an updating of presence and patrol assets as well as the statutory third CVF (with air wings), renewal of the A/W capacity in the 2020s, 2/3 extra Astutes to keep the line working open until Successor comes along and 15 plus T26…

In my defence I should add that with Mrs Gloomy leaving for Spain tonight with a pal and Gloomy Junior away with another, I am having a couple of days at a Museum Complex in South London (the one on the Meridian)…I even came up from Embankment on the boat…

Recommendations for pubs on the quayside welcomed.

GNB

x
x
October 31, 2013 7:07 pm

Unless the piracy is occurring on your own coast combatting it is a naval task.

wf
wf
October 31, 2013 7:31 pm

@GNB: you are in my neck of the woods, so I would suggest:-

– Trafalgar (decent food, great view) just east of the old naval college
– Gypsy Moth (just across from the Cutty Sark, ditto above, young crowd)
– The Plume of Feathers (tucked away on Park Vista, put the Trafalgar to your back walk up away from the river, cross the main road and follow the road around to the left)

If you fancy a swift half at closing, I daresay @TD could send you the email :-)

Rocket Banana
October 31, 2013 8:36 pm

Gents,

Does anyone know what size/type of sonar Wildcat can take?

Can it take something like the one in Merlin/SK?

Just musing.

AndyF
AndyF
October 31, 2013 9:17 pm

@Simon: The South Koreans just bought Thales FLASH Compact dipping sonar for their Wildcats, which appears to be exactly the same processing kit as the full size FLASH in Merlin but with a lightweight winch and cable, and presumably the Wildcat wouldn’t be able to carry anywhere close to the number of sonar bouys that a Merlin can.
I think Algeria has something similar in their new Super Lynx.

And as we all know, UK Wildcats don’t have any sonar….

wf
wf
October 31, 2013 10:39 pm

@GNB: looks like the spam monster ate the post for three hours. Will be cycling through Greenwich at 0815 if you’re awake!

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
October 31, 2013 11:52 pm

– probably not – found the Trafalgar to be in possession of a bottle of Highland Park, and helped them to reduce stocks somewhat; late breakfast and then a walk up the hill to the Observatory for me…but If you see a short fat chap with a beard in a sand-coloured tweed looking a little fragile, give me a wave…sorry to have missed the swift half…

GNB

wf
wf
November 1, 2013 12:05 am

@GNB: roger that. Man in fluorescent green may be motoring past tomorrow then…while you are sleeping :-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2013 12:21 am

– Planning a final pint in the Trafalgar about five before heading back up river…description remains the same…

Quite taken to the place, so may be back for a return visit with Gloomy Junior and his best pal…they’ll enjoy the museum I think…

GNB

wf
wf
November 1, 2013 7:42 am

@GNB: unless work becomes silly, you’re on :-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2013 8:19 am

Goodo – hope to see you later, but no worries if not. GNB

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2013 9:57 am

AndyF,

Thanks.

All,

So is it therefore reasonable to assume Wildcat can do the “locate and destroy” part of the ASW job?

The bit it can’t do is carry lots of sono-buoys.

Why then can’t we just chuck sono-buoys out of a non-naval (expensive) Merlin? Is the sono-buoy dispenser special? Do they have to be activated or do they go live when they hit the water?

The reason I ask is that I’m not sure how we justify Merlin for ASW when a standard utility Merlin can do the sono-buoy job (in fact the Crowsnest Merlins might be able to do this) and leave the expensive sonar system to Wildcat for the final attack.

x
x
November 1, 2013 11:11 am

@ Simon

Careful Simon you will be asking questions next like why it needs that big radar and high endurance. Over the last few weeks here I have had a real education about naval helicopters. I thought Merlin was purchased so it could range out from frigates and HVU to hunt for submarines and locate surface targets. It is nice to think about how naval assets will be protected by both technology and good planning but at the end of the day they are employed to go into harm’s way. Yet when I asserted that Merlin ASW was a sea control asset I was told I was wrong. He kept on banging on about operating within AAW envelope. I must be missing something because Sea Wolf’s range isn’t that much greater than a .50BMG.so Merlin would barely get off the deck. My idea and what my reading suggests to me of Merlin toddling off down the threat axis at over 100 kts looking to see if the enemy would be encountered in the next few hour’s steaming is wrong apparently. And even though lots of other nations are hanging medium to heavy AShM off their large naval helicopters my lament that Merlin isn’t so fitted is utter rhubarb too apparently according to SomeWhat. Forget the costs, staggering irrelevantly as they are. It appears all the other world’s navies be they big or small are wrong but not the RN. I am sure when Marte the missile the Italian’s hang off their Merlin that the Italian navy assessed Merlin’s credibility as a missile launcher. They were not too bothered that over 10nm what will catch the eye as it were is movement not size (Wildcat Lynx is two thirds as big Merlin in terms of size). And I am sure the Italians must have flicked through Jane’s and read up on the possible missile engagement envelopes a Merlin carrying Marte would encounter. Unless Italian Merlin isn’t a big bus and svelte chic; no it is a big bus just like the UK one because it is the same blessed aircraft. Italian Merlin with Marte is about shooting at Third World frigates, corvettes, OPV, PB, FAC etc. Never mind the crap about my suggestion about T26 needing space to house two Merlin being stupid even though the US, Canadians, Danes, the UK, Japan, and others have all operated multiple helicopters from escorts. I think we all appreciate that naval warfare isn’t a tabletop game of overlapping specifications. Less patronising attitude towards laymen and the world’s other navies would be good……….

wf
wf
November 1, 2013 3:50 pm

@GNB: I’m on the way :-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2013 4:08 pm

– between window and fireplace in the first room on the left. GNB

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2013 4:51 pm

x,

I was under the impression we would set sail with half a dozen (+) Merlin maintaining 24-7 dipping ahead of the fleet and dropping sono-buoys in the baffles.

It was really the copters on the frigates I was musing. If Wildcat had a dipper then I’m not sure we’d need much else. Once I’d mused about that I figured that maintaining a single “carrier ASW squadron” of Merlin would be excessively expensive and how (if) we could get away with ditching Merlin HM altogether :-(

I do think there are two points of view which are not made clear by commenters on this site… taking on 3rd world countries and taking on a peer enemy. If you look at the latter, copters (other than those patrolling at high altitude) are missile fodder, end of story. Looking at the former, a Merlin or Wildcat would blow pirate skiffs and FACs out of the water whilst the owning frigate crew sit around drinking a nice cuppa :-)

Rocket Banana
November 1, 2013 5:05 pm

x,

Just for reference here is a link to the Lynx and Merlin relative sizes.

I’d estimate about 1/4 of the radar return from Lynx (same for Wildcat) so it should be able to get twice as close to the enemy as the massive Merlin.

WiseApe
November 1, 2013 5:07 pm

I appear to have stumbled onto a dating site :-0 I’m trying to gasp but can’t get it to work.

mike
mike
November 1, 2013 5:07 pm

@ Simon

Your suggesting *cutting* the Merlin HM force? Cutting a *FAA* asset? :O
Quick! Prepare yourself for the “pro RAF goon” accusations and hitmen from the FAA Mafia!

I can see what your thinking though, if the Wildcat can do all Merlin can, and then some, why not?
But doesn’t Merlin offer more capability in carrying more stores, personnel and weapons? (the latter, as X has pointed out, is woefully under-utilized). Not to mention longer range.

I thought it would make sense to have a ‘big’ and ‘small’ mix of types that over-lap each others capabilities but also offer slightly different capabilities too. We had it with Sea King and Lynx, and now will have it with Merlin and Wildcat.
But its strange, the Merlin HM2 – sub hunter extraordinaire – without an EO turret. And the Wild-cat – sports car of the Naval helicopter world, without sonar.

:D

x
x
November 1, 2013 6:04 pm

@ Simon

If Merlin carries a larger missile it doesn’t need to get as close now does it?

Opinion3
Opinion3
November 1, 2013 6:05 pm

Sorry for the lack of knowledge, I thought the Wildcat had active dipping sonar ….. what is missing / am I missing?

McZ
McZ
November 1, 2013 7:12 pm

@x
“If Merlin carries a larger missile it doesn’t need to get as close now does it?”

Marte was fired back in the 90s from AB212 (an UH-1-derivate), so I guess Wildcat would easily be capable to carry two. So, missile size is no great advantage of the Merlin. Endurance and payload is, but then you choose one helicopter having 6 hours on aux over two helicopters with 4 hours each, with very few task actually requiring a Merlin-sized bird, including ASW (as the Korean contract indicates) or even AEW (those shiny Vigilance-pods are not requiring a Merlin-sized bird, and IMO there is a possibility to replace Wildcats SeaSpray with an AEW-tasked Vixen-radar).

What I would like to see is Merlin being the “strategic backbone”. An example could be inflight refuelling for helos, something the RN should look at to maximize range and endurance.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
November 1, 2013 7:17 pm

@Simon

“… taking on 3rd world countries and taking on a peer enemy …”

Aside from ASW work, the RN seems woefully ill-equipped to take on a peer enemy. It ships seem to have lots of defensive missiles/systems and the T45 seems very capable in that regard, as long as the opposition doesn’t fire more than 48 missiles or aeroplanes at it during any one cruise, but in terms of offensive capability it does seem a bit thin. So much so that I suspect that a reasonably well equipped enemy squadron would have no need to fight an RN task force they could just drive/sail past it and carry on with whatever they want to do.

I am sure some of the RN supporters club will be along shortly to explain that there is no peer enemy threat and so we don’t have to worry and anyway by the time, for example, the Russian rebuild of its Navy starts showing results (see recent RUSI paper) we will have QE and all will be well.

I just can’t help feeling that a RN geared to defence and with just seven submarines (if all are available for sea) for offensive action must have Nelson spinning in his tomb.

x
x
November 1, 2013 7:55 pm

@ McZ

Merlin could carry a larger missile.

My point is that USN decided that after working with the RN in GW1 that a missile and a radar equipped helicopter is a good idea. The RN decided to put a huge radar on its large helicopter and then decided that an offensive capability wasn’t needed. I suppose the plan will be that GP T26 (cough, splutter) will carry Wildcat and ASW T26 (cough, splutter) will carry Merlin. I can’t see the point in T45 accompanying CVF having a helicopter. In fact I can’t see the point in T45 having a helicopter at all once CVF comes on line.

As for peer enemy this or that surely the point is that the helicopter brings another sets of offensive capabilities? What if the main gun is down or ops is burning or whatever but the helicopter is available? What if the enemy is mauled too and can’t hit out an airborne threat? Armies the globe over think about helicopters both as on offensive tool and a threat. Modern RN warships are replete with damage control equipment, water tight zones, and lots of stuff to ensure survivability but multiple kinetic capabilities? No. Float, move, and fight? Fight really? Really? Said here lots of times that the helicopter is a proven “module”.

As I said above it appears that I don’t understand utterly nothing about the maritime helicopter. My comprehension of the English language must be really poor because I have related nothing on this blog that I haven’t read from credible sources. Bod only knows how I got firsts for my essays at uni.

I am tired of talking about it.

x
x
November 1, 2013 8:06 pm

Crazy Americans want to shoot ships well OTH……

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
November 1, 2013 11:01 pm

@~WiseApe -We just had two or three decent pints in a Thames-side Boozer of some historic interest that was awash with tanked-up totty (graduation day at Greenwich) spiced with a lively Sarf London wedding party; you lot were deep in conversation about bits of helicopter…

I’m happy with my choice…

GNB

wf
wf
November 1, 2013 11:21 pm

Yeah, some of them were falling over :-)

Chris
Chris
November 1, 2013 11:39 pm

GNB, wf – you mean there *is* life outside the blogosphere???

wf
wf
November 1, 2013 11:57 pm

: afraid so!

SR
SR
November 2, 2013 7:46 am

Define a ‘peer enemy’ please?

Russians? Okay, fair enough. But they have SAM systems (as do many others) that range out to 20, 30nm or more. So, big fat Merlin shows up nicely. Shoot, bang, dead copter. Lynx, small enough and agile enough to get in under the radar horizon. Funny, almost like we thought about it. Ever wondered why we don’t have anti-radar countermeasures on helicopters, why it’s all geared around MANPADs? It’s beacuse a slow, obvious target like a helicopter cannot expect to break missile lock from a surface radar the same size as the Merlin.

Iran. Peer enemy? Well in terms of pure top trumps (apparently the defining standard) no they’re not. As an asymmetric threat in their own back yard they outmatch Western capabilities and own the Straits. Nobody, US, RN or anyone can realistically hope to take on the massed swarm of gun, missile, torpedo and mine-armed boats, combined with invisible, silent SSKs and SSCs. The environment is totally on their side. Overwhelming offensive air power is necessary, combined with offensive hardkill (TLAM into ports and air bases) and niche specialties such as ASW and MCM. We cannot afford the former (stop yawning x) so we specialise in the latter.

Rocket Banana
November 2, 2013 9:25 am

x,

“If Merlin carries a larger missile it doesn’t need to get as close now does it?”

Too true.

I suppose it depends on if you’re shooting at a large ship or at a dozen FACs with Brimstone.

x
x
November 2, 2013 10:53 am

@ Simon

I don’t think thoughts of larger missiles trouble the brain trust that is the UK’s Admiralty……

My point is you can’t shoot at anything without a missile or a gun. Marte may be small but is has a 140lb warhead. 140lb of HE isn’t a ship killer. But it would surely take the shine off your day if it went pop within a few (!) metres of you. Doesn’t matter whether it is killer punches or death by a thousand cuts the RN’s job is to inflict violence on the Queen’s enemies. Yes the latter is preferable but as I said above this isn’t Top Trumps or some tabletop war game decided by dice throws.

WiseApe
November 2, 2013 11:10 am

Decent beer down south? I can only assume it was a guest ale.

I’m struggling to see where this folds. Top flush rivetting perhaps.

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/video-mq-8c-fire-scout-completes-first-flight-392469/

x
x
November 2, 2013 12:35 pm

Two USN Seahawks firing Penguin missiles! Crazy, crazy Americans……..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_9f9_6q71g

And Seahawks firing Hellfire too…….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ2aZ4usknY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dw4Q-A84_9U

I am surprised YouTube allows unfettered access to videos like these.

McZ
McZ
November 2, 2013 4:48 pm

@x
“Two USN Seahawks firing Penguin missiles! Crazy, crazy Americans……..”

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penguin_(missile):
“Helicopters (certified for the following aircraft):
* ll 412 SP
* Kaman SH-2 Seasprite
* Sikorsky S-70 series (SH-60 Seahawk, UH-60 Black Hawk)
* Westland Super Lynx”

My point is not having larger missiles, which could be quite, but is not top-priority #1 ATM. My point is, for what should a Merlin-sized helicopter be required?! LRASM? Wildcats payload is around 5,000 lb, which would enable the same load of two 2,250 lb LRASM which Merlin is capable of, due to poor weapon station design.

And even if you would enable Merlin to carry four, you would still have only one helicopter, one target with one angle of attack without backup. Better have two of the smaller birds.

Chris
Chris
November 2, 2013 5:11 pm

McZ – I’m pretty sure the RN partitioned the rotary wing assets by function – Merlin HM1/2 is an ASW asset; Lynx/Wildcat is ASuW. Which means Merlin carries sensors & weapons necessary to prosecute hostile subsurface targets, while Lynx focuses on anti-ship tasks. Nice & simple. It doesn’t mean they can’t be tasked for other duties, of course, but I doubt you’d see a Lynx with a dipper or Merlin with ASM on the rails in RN service.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 12, 2013 5:55 pm