From the TD Archives – Are we the only people that like the A400M?

Am going to start re-posting the odd older item by way of repeating old rubbish being ecologically sound.

The very first article on Think Defence, an A400M related post that asked if anyone else liked the A400M. At the time of the post, in 2009, A400M news was unremittingly bad.

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/02/are-we-the-only-people-that-like-the-a400m/

With recent news about accelerated deliveries to the UK and good progress in the flight testing regime.

With nearly 5 years of time passed, was I right?

Is the A400M good news for the British Armed Forces and aerospace defence industry.

I think so, do you?

 

 

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mike
mike
July 23, 2014 2:31 pm

TD, is this a thinly vield series about “How TD was right all along!” ;)

Good to see you post these, a whole heap of good threads and posts hidden away from new readers.

x
x
July 23, 2014 2:44 pm

The only thing this rabidly anti-RN, pro-RAF, excuse making for the Army site has convinced me of is the logic of buying A400m……………… :) ;)

Martin
Editor
July 23, 2014 2:49 pm

I think you are right more often that you are wrong TD :-)

I agree about the A400M and I don’t think people realise how much if a game changer it will be. I think however it will be more of a game changer for mainland Europe than the UK.

it offers near strategic lift and an decent AAR capability something almost everyone in Europe except the UK lacks.

As you have pointed out on numerous occasions no one licked the C17 when it first launched now its the best thing since sliced bread. I have no doubt A400M will be a similar story.

Simon257
Simon257
July 23, 2014 2:50 pm

We should still go and buy a few more C-17’s though!

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 23, 2014 3:10 pm

Would the KC-390 be more suitable as an MPA, due to it’s larger payload, range and speed?

I think intratheatre lift is something we should build on in the transport fleet.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 23, 2014 3:25 pm

In fact the more you think about it, would the KC-390 not be a contender anyway? It has in flight refueling plus the ability to have tanker kits fitted, it’s range is not far off the P8 either. Is the KC-390 the affordable universal airframe we have been dreaming about?

Jon
Jon
July 23, 2014 3:37 pm

@ Martin

I’m not sure about licking a C17, I doubt it tastes very nice and may cause burns if you lick the wrong bit……….

Chuck
Chuck
July 23, 2014 3:45 pm

If the “I licked it, it’s mine now” rule applies I’m happy to lick the USAF’s entire fleet :P

I was going to say it would be the most ridiculous procurement plan the in the MOD’s history… but then I remembered FRES.

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
July 23, 2014 4:53 pm

@Chuck – “Dibs” would probably be more logical than FRES…

I’m cautiously optimistic about the A400m. The powers that be have decided we’re getting them (whether the RAF likes it or not, at this stage) so we might as well make the most of it. So far it doesn’t seem to make a habit of falling from the sky and we’re actually about to be handed the keys to some, so I guess things aren’t too bad!

I would love to see us taking the lead in pushing the envelope and turning it into a Swiss Army Knife like the Herc. RAPTOR pods off the wings, 40mm CTA out the paratroop door, complex weapons off the back ramp – all of it.

In ISO-sized roll-on modules, naturally ;)

Maybe the gucci software will let it precision airdrop Mexefloat too, for max TD points?

Chuck
Chuck
July 23, 2014 5:13 pm

Yeah nothing against the bird myself, reckon it’ll do the job nicely. Also it’s a real thing that’s actually going to be in the RAF and everything, not just some powerpoint, that just might be the best feature on the whole plane.

I’m also of the mind that any ‘rapid effects’ will be far more to do with our airlift capacity than any ground vehicle, in the modern world airlift is the measure of speed. Would happily see us order twice as many and some more C17 to go with them, in fantasy land. We should definitely get every last drop out of them, though not sure we’ll have any spare for the more interesting uses.

Complex weapons out the back you say http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/why-boeings-design-for-a-747-full-of-cruise-missiles-ma-1605150371

Always thought that was a brill idea. Of course it wouldn’t be the size of 747, but the weapons are smaller now too. I hear they’re struggling to sell that A380 if we wanted something bigger. Ok I’ve wandered well off into fantasy land now, think I might need a map to get back to realityland.

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
July 23, 2014 5:24 pm

If the governments and Airbus had been a bit more realistic about the delivery time and cost it wouldn’t have got so much crap thrown at it. These things always come out over budget and years late. Does nobody work that into their time and cost estimates?

If it would improve the range I would like to see a turbofan version not intended for tactical landings. Comparing the max takeoff weights and engine power of Airbus A320 and A340, and considering an A400m mtow of 300k ish lbs I reckon it needs in the region of 90k pounds of thrust to get airborne.

Chuck
Chuck
July 23, 2014 5:45 pm

If your price and schedule aren’t utter nonsense you’ll never get the contract in the first place nowadays it seems.

The Other Chris
July 23, 2014 6:11 pm

Would love a doubling of the fleet closer to 50.

Stick as many variants as you like in :)

paul g
July 23, 2014 6:19 pm

I thought of the KC-390 mainly because I remembered seeing a programme about the wonderful men and women of the MERT using the C-17 for the repatriation of the wounded from Afghanistan. It was used as it can fly on certain routes due to speed/altitude etc.
In the programme it was bringing back 7 soldiers and even with staff and equipment it was plainly under used, i.e. empty. Many months later an article popped up saying the KC-390 was going to have it’s first flight later this year and that set off the grey matter with the thoughts of ” no need to top up the R&D funds” Also if I can find it I believe it’s been touted at a rather attractive price.
So why not have a high/low mix in strategic i.e. C-17/KC-390 and then tactical A400M/ a.n. other.
I believe the engines are derivative of the A330 engines and hey it wouldn’t hurt to be pally with brazil!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql9UDf-35xk

Jed
Jed
July 23, 2014 6:19 pm

Ahhhh SA – thanks so much….. ” precision airdrop Mexefloat ” – you owe me a new keyboard (current one now covered in diet Pepsi), god only knows what effect that comment had on our host, lord, and master….. :-)

The Other Chris
July 23, 2014 6:21 pm

If we buy C295 for MPA it makes sense to buy cargo variants.

Not sold on the KC-130, A400M performance is a match.

WiseApe
July 23, 2014 7:18 pm

Well I admit that I’d never heard of them before I came onboard here. TD’s multi-part series was very illuminating. I’m quite sold on them now…. though I do wonder, if we melted them down, how much of a frigate could we squeeze out of them?

I also wonder if they’ll be around as long as the Hercs.

The Other Chris
July 23, 2014 7:24 pm

On the topic of C295 MPA, another view on the Airbus MPA pitch along with proposals for A330 MRTT as a multirole platform:

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-pushes-for-uk-maritime-patrol-contest-401924/

paul g
July 23, 2014 7:33 pm

@TOC,

On current prices you can get 3 390’s for 1 A400m!!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 23, 2014 7:42 pm

as the KC 390 has not even flown yet I would hold off on prices.

The Other Chris
July 23, 2014 7:59 pm

But you can’t get 1 x A400M for 3 x KC-390’s.

I like it as an aircraft. If the UK weren’t in the work up to the A400M fleet it would be a consideration.

TD’s series has a performance section which covers the main points. The first part in the series explains the cargo area volume:

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/09/the-airbus-a400m-atlas-part-2-what-is-so-good-about-it-anyway/

Challenger
Challenger
July 23, 2014 8:14 pm

What’s the chances of the RAF being so delighted with the A400m that by the end of deliveries in 2018 it looks to pick up the 3 extra air-frames in the original contract or nab a few second-hand examples from another customer looking to shed some?

One can but hope!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 23, 2014 8:20 pm

Boeing seems to be keen to be part of the 390 story… And the Swedes promised to make it into their Herc deplacement, should Brazil make the Gripen deal

PhilEeeeeee
PhilEeeeeee
July 23, 2014 8:25 pm

I think the A400M is a fine beast of a machine that will vastly expand on the abilities of the departing C-130.

But I think there is justification to purchase half a dozen C-17J, or C-295.

Rocket Banana
July 23, 2014 8:34 pm

Twelve C925s equipped with maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare equipment already used by the UK armed forces could be acquired for half the price of six P-8s, while life-cycle costs would be between one-quarter and one-fifth those of the larger type, he claims… Thompson also believes that additional capacity on the UK’s A330 Voyager programme could be used to satisfy other future airborne command and control requirements. One potential application could be to adapt several aircraft to serve as replacements for the RAF’s Boeing 707-based E-3D airborne warning and control system fleet, he suggests.

Reminds me of this…

Mark
Mark
July 23, 2014 8:37 pm

For those interesting flying the a400m

paul g
July 23, 2014 10:03 pm

KC-390 due to fly this year and there’s the beauty, just sit back and observe as we aren’t constantly having to top the funding like another aircraft I could mention (although I like that aircraft and it could be an excellent export product).

I think in the blurb that mentions Boeing it also states they want to have a sales/support centre in the UK

The Other Chris
July 23, 2014 10:34 pm

Squeeze a weapons bay into the floor, add an extra pylon to each wing and they’d have a lot of attention…

S O
S O
July 23, 2014 10:42 pm

The A400M was designed by the B-team of Airbus (the A-team worked on the A380 and later A350), and it shows.

Airlift of a couple tons mass in a defined modest volume and shape over a modest distance coupled with the ability to turn around on the airfield without any towing vehicle is a relatively simple affair. Developers from the 1960’s could have (and did) succeed at this.
Airbus/whatever pretended that this should be done in a gold-plated way, creating a very expensive aircraft for alleged maintenance savings and cost-wise modest fuel savings.

The program was actually a veiled subsidy to Airbus, which turned ugly becuase the program was run so badly that it probably didn’t even create substantial profit for Airbus/EADS.

Mil Spec airlift is very fasionable due to the air bridges into Afghanistan and to a lesser extent Iraq. The reality is that Cold War vintage aircraft hauled most goods (and by definition could have done so in the future, if rebuilt). In fact, much of the airlift wasn’t even military airlift; especially the commercial An-124 played a major role.

Wasteful military adventures overseas aside, what’s the utility of airlift in actual defence? Would we be able to airlift anything into Estonia if it was under attack? No.
Would airlift be important after the first week or so if Turkey was under attack? No.
Assuming Ukraine was now in NATO, could we help it with airlift? Hardly, Lwiw would be the only major city at a safe distance.
Assuming Georgia had been NATO member during teh South Ossetia War, would airlift have played a major role? Not to Georgia – only Turkish airfields would have been safe (distant) enough.

The german Transall aircraft proved to be ill-prepared for carrying supplies into Bosnia during the 90’s; planners had not anticipated their employment over hostile terrain. The only ‘hot’ missions envisaged were airborne drops over friendly terrain, in order to move airborne troops as ultra-quick reserves to seal off a breakthrough or similar. as of today, employment of cargo aircraft close to peer hostiles is impractical. And “close” means 200+ km when we talk about Russia’s military technology level.

And this basically means that for actual defence, you hardly need any mil spec airlift at all. You can make do with the enormous civilian airlift capacity and maybe a few ‘Buffalo’-style aircraft for spare parts and engine moving in support of dispersed combat aviation.

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
July 23, 2014 11:22 pm

,

Ha! OGH’s keyboard is being wiped off for, ahem, other reasons after a trigger phrase like “precision-drop Mexefloat” (he’ll be having a fag and a large bottle of Lucozade about now…)

@x,

Yup, had an absolute beauty already in service and got rid of it. The story of the British aviation industry from Duncan Effing Sandys on.

@Chuck at 1713Z,

This. Get us a squadron now, my in-laws have a pair of Labradors who will slobber all over the things and then *no one* will touch them :) In all seriousness Dear Old British Airways operates more stretch 747s than any other carrier in the world and they will be due for refits or retirement in the coming decade or two. A squadron of those, one of MPA, and seven of Tiffys (a dozen each rather than fifteen), and High Wycombe can get well shot of the time-and-cost morass of Dave-B and have a genuinely effective air-superiority fleet on all fronts (A2A, patrol-suppression, and transcontinental standoff trucks, the stuff an independent air service actually needs for combat.)

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 24, 2014 12:48 am

@ S O
” In fact, much of the airlift wasn’t even military airlift; especially the commercial An-124 played a major role”
— A problem that cropped up in 1990 with Iraq was that the demand for civilian airlift outstripped supply by some margin. Everyone wanted the 124’s, amongst other airlift. Price gouging seems to have been the order of the day as a result, as well as people having to wait their turn.

S O
S O
July 24, 2014 1:01 am

ODS was not a defence of NATO. It was a voluntary action, and it was eventually proved to have had the time even for sealift.

In a REAL conflict, the UK could comandeer the entire British Airways for airlift.

It is much cheaper (and definitively not preferred by the military bureaucracies) to prepare for peer conflict with civilian resources than to develop and buy gold plated milspec big ticket items.

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 1:44 am

SO is right on this, in something like WWIII, the whole civilian airlines industry can be nationalised and for good reason. People don’t do tourism during a global war much.

BTW, now that we have pissed off Russia and cut off about half the available AN-124 supply, what do we do for heavy lift?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 24, 2014 3:05 am

Blah insomnia.

“In a REAL conflict”

What?

It was a real conflict for us. It may not have been WW3, but it was a conflict the UK government decided to get involved in. It had fighting. UK service personnel died. That I would suggest meets the definition of a real conflict. Not every war is going to be a major world war. In fact that scale of war is probably the least likely that we’re going to face.

“…and it was eventually proved to have had the time even for sealift.”
True, but that’s rather a massive dollop of hindsight there. And just because it was alright on the night that time, that doesn’t suddenly become a rule for the future. The French’s recent excursion to Mali being another case in point.

Chuck
Chuck
July 24, 2014 3:16 am

Waiting for that sealift also gave Saddam months to abuse, terrorize, plunder and murder the innocent peoples of Kuwait. Along with creating a massive ecological disaster.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g10pMGVmhts If nothing else worth watching for the hybrid T-34/2xMig 21 fire engine. Yes, you did read that right. Hungarians are fully mental.

Kent
Kent
July 24, 2014 4:44 am

Is the A400M really that much better than the C-130J? The C-130 has actually been in combat back to the 1960’s to the present. (My brother’s early model C-130 took an SA-2 between #3 and #4 in the long ago and far away. The warhead didn’t detonate, but the missile sticking through the wing made the Hercules almost uncontrollable and certainly unable to RTB. The crew was able to bail out, and they were all rescued. They were never where they got shot down, their airplane was lost in a training accident somewhere else, and they weren’t anywhere near where the incident never happened.)

Just not sure where the A400M fits in the scheme of things. Maybe you should buy a few of the A380s and turn them into MPA/tankers.

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 4:55 am

Kent, different scale. The C-130 is smaller than the A400. They each have their roles.

Chris.B some call it a training exercise with live rounds. There was never a chance to lose in that conflict, the end results were known by the time the first units got there and frankly the entire coalition could just blow off Kuwait and go home without it affecting them any, it was never an existential threat to any of them. SO probably means that a real conflict is one where there is a risk of losing something that will impact on the ability of the country to function, and Kuwait, despite the propaganda, was never really that important.

Chuck, there may have been atrocities, but some of it later turned out to be fake to play on international sympathy, which is unfortunate as it corrupts the real information we need to make decisions.

Chuck
Chuck
July 24, 2014 5:12 am

Oh certainly, observer. The ambassador’s daughter was very convincing. An unnecessary charade.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 24, 2014 5:21 am

@ Observer,

Well, I’ve mustered about 2 hours continuous sleep so maybe I read your post wrong but, did you just call the gulf war a training exercise? A good number of people died during that training exercise, because funnily enough the other side was shooting back with live weapons. Huge quantities of ordnance were deposited on Iraq and its forces, which also certainly helped.

At the time the mood appears to have been anything other than the end result being known. We know now that a lot the Iraqis were in a poor state, both material and morale wise, but that’s information that was only gleaned from interviewing the Iraqis and inspecting their positions after the fight was over. All the evidence we have suggests that at the time the coalition commanders were a little nervous about the potential outcome.

As for blowing off Kuwait and leaving it to its own devices with no consequences, that’s probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve read on the Internet for quite some time. Clearly it was a massive issue for Kuwait. And the price of oil would have been something special to behold if the Iraqis had just been left to it. There was a significant fear that Iraq might have pushed on and gone for the gulf states as well. That would have had, I would suggest, an impact on the ability of many western nations to function normally, as they were pre-invasion.

The entire notion that just because the war wasn’t fought on the steps of Buckingham palace that somehow it’s invalid, or at least less valid, is completely and utterly bonkers. The UK has a history of sending people to war in all manner of odd places, all of them sharing the common attribute that it was believed that to some extent or another this was in the countries interest, or a duty for which the country has signed up for.

Where the soldiers, sailors and airmen go, so must their equipment. That’s the way it works in the real world. I know that SO dislikes the idea that anyone would fight outside of their own borders, but separating personal wishes from the reality of the world is important. And in this case, the reality is that the UK fights most of its wars away from home. Just because they don’t meet someones idealised concept of what a “REAL conflict” is about, does not change the fact that these were real conflicts that took place.

The Other Chris
July 24, 2014 7:06 am

@Kent

Definitely have a read of TD’s article on the A400M performance. There’s a heading entitled Performance that holds most of the info you need.

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/09/the-airbus-a400m-atlas-part-2-what-is-so-good-about-it-anyway/

In a nutshell it can carry more (not just in a mass sense), further, faster but into the same areas.

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 8:16 am

Chris.B not me, those were the words of some who actually fought in the Gulf. And I think you overstate the importance of the conflict, that area has been a dog eat dog area for decades, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, it was a mess. The only difference with Kuwait was that it drummed up enough public sympathy to get the US on its side. Don’t believe me? Look up the Tanker Wars.

You focus too much on the micro and miss the macro aspects of the conflict, while it may be boohoo for the Kuwaitis, even if they were subjugated, it would not affect the macroeconomics of the area much. In fact, the Coalition intervention could be said to have crippled oil production even more than letting an aggressor restore production. That fight was never about economic stability but legality.

Murica, world police.

The Iraqis never had a chance since the word “Go”.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 24, 2014 8:56 am

@ Observer,

Afterwards everybody discovered that the Iraqis were in a state. Prior to that though everything was not so casual, hence the massive amounts of force applied to the matter.

The Iraqis wanted their debts wiped. They were also just a bit annoyed at countries like Kuwait exceeding oil quotas and f**king up the cartels position. If they’d have been left in Kuwait they would have stayed long enough (and likely inserted a puppet) to push oil prices way up and keep them there for a long, long time. That was how Iraq planned to get itself out of trouble financially. This of course being just the precursor to a potential push further east.

It’s pretty odd I think that you seem to think this was not a big deal. This had the potential to be an absolute arse ache of the most grand order. And that’s before we get to issues of sovereignty and international law.

IXION
July 24, 2014 9:07 am

Observer

Of course if one wanted to play ‘what if’.

If we had not gone to gulf 1 we would not have gone to gulf 2…

Sadam would have faced off v the Saudis having already pushed Iran Back.

No Isis
No syrian civil war.

Western ally (total bastard in control true) but a secular chap. A lot less support for people with exploding underpants trying to kill us all in mid air….

I can live with that.

OH and g1 and 2 would have happened without us.

Chris B

The worlds superpower (US) went to war:-

With it’s heaviest divisions
loaded with all the equipment developed for defeating the third shock army head on… the equipment that made the soviets blink and chuck in the towel.
With total air domination.
Funded by Gulf oil money
With secure bases for a well planned logistical build up

The result was a foregone conclusion from day one. OK we got of lightly with casualties I personally estimated the allies might loose 3- 5000 seriously injured or killed. But it was always going to be a bloody massacre of the Iraqi armed forces….

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 9:24 am

Chris, if you had not known that the Iraqis were screwed from day 1, you have not been looking at the force disparity. Even the initial Desert Shield already showed the potential air supremacy. Not parity or denial, supremacy. It was a foregone conclusion even before the fighting started, and if you can’t see that, it puts the rest of your analysis in severe doubt.

Your prediction of ramping oil prices do not take into account the rest of OPEC, Iraq, even with Kuwait, does not have a monopoly. I can’t see how it would ramp up oil prices any more than having the 2 countries embargoed, especially with competition from the Saudis.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 24, 2014 9:51 am

Out of curiosity is there a reason that the C-27J never gets mentioned in these type of discussions?

S O
S O
July 24, 2014 10:15 am

“And just because it was alright on the night that time, that doesn’t suddenly become a rule for the future.”

Actually, the same was repeated in 2002; months of force build-up.

You cannot wage war from an airhead anyway; you need land or sea transport lines. Airlift is a tiny bottleneck, good only for deploying and sustaining small forces. The UK is unlikely to get enough MilSpec airlift to sustain a single brigade in combat, for example.

No war fought by the UK with a single brigade can be a truly important war. Military adventure – yes, but not truly important war (to the UK).

“Waiting for that sealift also gave Saddam months to abuse, terrorize, plunder and murder the innocent peoples of Kuwait.”

So you’re still believeing in war propaganda? Besides, your remark is irrelevant. Even the huge strategic airlift command of the USA wasn’t enough or a quicker build-up, evidently. More airlift is no alternative to sealift on this scale.

Ace Rimmer
July 24, 2014 10:36 am

I like the A400M, if only as a replacement for the Belfast that we never really had. My real gripe hides in the fact that the Westland Lynx was designed to fit in the back of the Belfast, not the C-130, suddenly switching the carrier aircraft screwed up airlift deployment of Lynx from day one. At least we kind squeeze them in the back of an A400 without having to remove the undercarriage and mount them in a wheeled cradle, a ludicrous situation…

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 24, 2014 3:37 pm

@ ixion,

“The worlds superpower (US) went to war:-
With it’s heaviest divisions
loaded with all the equipment developed for defeating the third shock army head on… the equipment that made the soviets blink and chuck in the towel.
With total air domination.
Funded by Gulf oil money
With secure bases for a well planned logistical build up”

— I think the soviets were a little more concerned with the many balls of instant sunshine possessed by NATO than anything else. As for the Iraqis, they possessed many of the sort of tanks that the soviets did, what with the soviets being their main backer, albeit export versions. Total air domination was not assured at the start. You’re also forgetting the significant worries that existed regarding chemical weapons.

Like Observer, you’re peering at the scenario through the pure lens of hindsight. Many of the later reports on the war contain diary entries from senior commanders there at the time. They tell a story of a group of people who were a lot more concerned about the potential outcome than your hindsight view. You only have to look at the massive air effort directed against not just Iraqi infrastructure, but against the field forces as well, to give you a subtle hint.

@ Observer,
“if you had not known that the Iraqis were screwed from day 1, you have not been looking at the force disparity… It was a foregone conclusion even before the fighting started, and if you can’t see that, it puts the rest of your analysis in severe doubt.”
— You only know the disparity was as great as it was because it’s already happened. At the time, as I said to Ixion, if you look at the things like diary entries etc then the people in theatre were a lot more concerned than you’re making out. They didn’t know at that point that Iraqi morale was so low. They didn’t know just how tactically inept many of the Iraqi commanders were (remember that this was an army that had just come out of a long period of war, so on paper had lots of experienced soldiers and commanders). They had no idea just how bad the logistic situation was for some of the less prominent field forces. They had no fore knowledge of the compounding effect that the air campaign would have on morale.

A lot of the “it was obvious who was going to win” comments stem from retrospect. The people planning the real deal, at the real time, seem to have not shared your blase assessment of the enemy. The only thing being demonstrated is that you haven’t paid enough attention to it.

@ SO,
“Actually, the same was repeated in 2002; months of force build-up”
— Mali? Libya? You’d hope there would be plenty of forewarning, but that’s not guaranteed.

“The UK is unlikely to get enough MilSpec airlift to sustain a single brigade in combat, for example”
— It doesn’t have to. You’re essentially building up a nice strawman by suggesting that now all of sudden the whole campaign has to be exclusively British and has to be conducted purely with air logistics. The issue brought up was that during the rapid build up for ’91 there was a limited number of AN-124 and that these were in high demand. Somehow you’ve gone from that, to trying to fight every operation through pure air lift, not really sure how.

“No war fought by the UK with a single brigade can be a truly important war”
— Why? The only plausible explanation to support that is because it fucks up you argument otherwise. If men and kit are being sent to into the breech to risk their lives, at significant cost to the taxpayer on top, then generally you would expect the purpose to be important to the UK even if a) you don’t understand it, or b) you don’t like it because it’s not a re-run of the great battles on the eastern plains, which you seem to think are the only kind of war that ever matters.

That’s not to say that on occasion you wont get some twat like Blair following Bush down the rabbit hole in Iraq, but that doesn’t automatically invalidate everything else that the UK armed forces have done. Just because you don’t like the idea of countries taking action over their interests, or to uphold some moral stance that they have taken, that doesn’t stop it from being true that it is important to them.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 24, 2014 4:24 pm

@ Observer,

Sorry missed this bit first time; “Iraq, even with Kuwait, does not have a monopoly. I can’t see how it would ramp up oil prices “

— Between them they sat on a large chunk of the proven reserves, with the ability to restrict supply in the short term. OPEC operates as a cartel that makes lots of money. They’re not typically in the habit of massively undercutting each other or doing anything so generous as significantly ramping up production in order to cover each others shortages just to keep global prices affordable (unless leaned on heavily, which has its limits). Iraq, having invaded Kuwait, was poised in a position where it could have invaded into Saudi Arabia (the Iraqi forces had a sizable numerical advantage).

If nobody had bothered to go and help then Iraq could have simply leveraged this position into an agreement to restrict oil production in the region (which ultimately would make countries like Saudi Arabia richer anyway, so it wouldn’t have been that hard of a sell). And that’s just one option. You seem to be missing the point that driving up oil prices – along with wanting to dissolve its debts – was one of the prime reasons that Hussein went for the invasion.

S O
S O
July 24, 2014 5:42 pm

“– Mali? Libya? You’d hope there would be plenty of forewarning, but that’s not guaranteed. ”

Mali was done by the French, not the UK – and it was done with a lot of civilian airlift.
The intervention over Libya could have been pulled off with late 19th century logistics, as all bases were in range of truck/railroad with a little bit of shipping (Sicily, Crete). Airlift was dispensable in that intervention.

“You’re essentially building up a nice strawman by suggesting that now all of sudden the whole campaign has to be exclusively British and has to be conducted purely with air logistics.”

Not at all. I described the conclusions from several variations of conflict and ruled out one of them as impractical.
That’s not a strawman, that’s a removal of the case for much military milspec airlift expenses piece by piece.

“If men and kit are being sent to into the breech to risk their lives, at significant cost to the taxpayer on top, then generally you would expect the purpose to be important to the UK even if”
(C) politicians once again made a mistake because their priorities are fucked up.

It could in theory be possible (though it never seems to happen) that a brigade-sized mission is actually worth its costs (not necessarily including costs of preparing for it just in case).
It’s not plausible to assume that any merely brigade-sized mission could possibly be really important to the UK, such as actually making life better or less horrible in the UK. There were about 50 small wars in the victorian Era, when victors actually were still able to grab all possessions of the defeated power. None of these was ever shown to have benefited the average person in the UK other than providing some entertaining ‘news’ once in a while.
The odds of doing something important with few personnel today are even less, and even more lessened are the odds of being truly successful on a military adventure (=own nation better off doing it than not).

“Like Observer, you’re peering at the scenario through the pure lens of hindsight. Many of the later reports on the war contain diary entries from senior commanders there at the time. They tell a story of a group of people who were a lot more concerned about the potential outcome than your hindsight view. ”

This doesn’t matter at all. What matters is reality, not scenarios people imagined before the fact.
Reality shows that we either have the time for railroad/sealift logistics or the operation is going to be very small and likely possible with civilian airlift if any is necessary at all.

There are actually some professional publications on logistics which are not expressing the opinion or serving the interest of a certain military service. Publications by retired soldiers, by military-associated university researchers and the like.
I have yet to see one of these consider military airlift as as important in relation to other military logistics as the military airlift budget stands in relation to other military logistics.
We’re more likely to get dozens of gold-plated cargo aircraft than a good ratio between MULTI/PLS/DROPS pallets to MULTI/PLS/DROPS trucks, for example.
We haven’t had a single mobilization exercise testing the mobilization of civilian truckage companies for a 2,000 km road march of army forces and supplies.
This would be important, and relatively cheap. Instead, the money is being flushed down the transport aircrafts’ toilets.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 24, 2014 7:30 pm

@ SO,

“Mali was done by the French, not the UK”
— And was a perfect example (hence its inclusion) of what happens when you lack sufficient heavy air lift assets to respond to a rapidly evolving crisis. In the end the French ended up leaning heavily on its allies, including ourselves. And what where they crying out for? Military air lift. The scenario itself, rushing forces in to support a friendly nation against a threat, is precisely the sort of thing (among others) that a lot of the UK defence projections anticipate our forces doing.

“The intervention over Libya could have been pulled off with late 19th century logistics, as all bases were in range of truck/railroad with a little bit of shipping (Sicily, Crete). Airlift was dispensable in that intervention.”
— The most pressing requirement for that intervention, the one that had the most serious potential international consequences, was the need to stop Libyan forces before they over ran major population centres. Something that needed to be done before a 19th century logistics chain could probably have even gotten itself moving.

“Not at all. I described the conclusions from several variations of conflict and ruled out one of them as impractical”
— I’m afraid you did [build a strawman]. The issue raised was about conflicting demands on the AN-124 fleet in ’91. But you’ve since gone off on some wild tangent about deploying and supplying a British brigade purely by air. Quite where that came from you’ve still yet to explain.

“politicians once again made a mistake because their priorities are fucked up”
— Again, you’re confusing your view of the world and how all nations should just sit at home and do nothing, with the reality of the world and the reality of the way UK Plc does business. Just because you personally don’t like the idea of nations sending their armed forces abroad to do various things doesn’t mean they’re stupid or the priorities are f**ked up, or that the nation in question doesn’t have something to gain (or believes it has something to gain).

“It’s not plausible to assume that any merely brigade-sized mission could possibly be really important to the UK, such as actually making life better or less horrible in the UK”
— If that brigade helps to erase a breeding ground for terrorists destined for the UK then yes it can impact UK life. If that brigade helps bring security to an area that is of interest to the UK then it can indirectly lower costs for UK businesses (such as lower shipping costs, or lower oil prices), making life in the UK better. If that brigade helps support a smaller ally such as Sierra Leone, that can bring positives to the UK in the form of direct trade deals and securing a friendly, pro-British voice in venues like the African Union, which over time can be worth far, far in excess of the expenditure that earned it.

Sometimes that brigade can be used as part of a wider peace keeping operation, and although it may not generate any tangible economic gains (or perhaps only in the very long run), the mere knowledge that British soldiers, sailors and airmen contributed to bringing peace and stability to a region and helped saved lives can be a boost to national morale, as well as just being a genuinely good, selfless, humane act. Which, I would argue, is a positive to the nation, that makes life better and/or less horrible, depending on your perspective.

“This doesn’t matter at all. What matters is reality, not scenarios people imagined before the fact.”
— Not really. Without perfect knowledge then people can’t act in the perfect manner. They have to do the best with what’s available to them. The reality of the situation was irrelevant, because the commanders lacked the detailed knowledge of the enemy to correctly assess that. They had to act on what was available to them, as all future commanders will.

“Reality shows that we either have the time for railroad/sealift logistics or the operation is going to be very small and likely possible with civilian airlift if any is necessary at all.”
— Except of course like the first stages of Mali. Or the first stages of Libya. Or the first stages of Desert Shield. And so on. I know you don’t consider these “REAL conflicts” but tough, they are. That they invalidate the major thrust of your argument is neither here nor there and doesn’t change the reality of the situation. Railroad and sea lift are the long term answers for certain, providing access is compatible, but air lift is the speed, the element most suited to first responding.

And civilian airlift isn’t always going to be as amenable to your schedule as you would like, nor will it always been free from use elsewhere by others, nor will the owners always be as willing to take your goods to where it is you want them, nor might you want civilians looking after certain bits of your force.

“There are actually some professional publications on logistics which are not expressing the opinion or serving the interest of a certain military service. Publications by retired soldiers, by military-associated university researchers and the like. I have yet to see one of these consider military airlift as as important in relation to other military logistics as the military airlift budget stands in relation to other military logistics”
— Then considering the fact that pretty much every armed forces the world across has invested in airlift of some sort, and that many of the major players of the world have invested heavily in it, and have found it to be repeatedly very useful, may I suggest that you try some different publications?

I know a man who can talk your ear off about the advantages of mexeflotes for example…

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 7:31 pm

Chris.B, you are assuming that just because you could not see the writing on the wall, others could not too. The instant Desert Shield was implemented, the Iraqi forces were doomed. I saw it even before the first Scud was popped off, I suspect Ixion did too and probably SO. That you couldn’t is a bit worrying.

Iraq going after the Saudis was a case of desperation, and they really were not serious about it as well. There is more bad blood between them and the Iranians than them with the Saudis. In fact, relations between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were actually worse than Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Historically, Saudi Arabia blockaded Kuwait and starved them out before. While you are right in saying that Iraq was after Kuwait primarily for financial reasons, you underestimate the effect that uncertainty has on oil prices beyond the price fixing by OPEC. OPEC will fix a price. Market forces will act on it to adjust the price in competition with demand. So if the situation was stabilized by turning a blind eye to Iraq’s conquest, market uncertainty is removed, not to mention supply is also massively improved by not embargoing the 2 countries. Embargoing + war drives oil prices up the roof, so saying that Desert Shield/Storm was about securing cheap oil is like saying you fireproof your house by setting it alight.

The liberation of Kuwait was always about sovereignty and moral issues and Kuwaiti media manipulation and the desire for the US to play policeman, oil was a side effect. The US always had a habit of trying to play superhero.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 24, 2014 7:54 pm

@Observer,
As it doesn’t really bear on the headline of this thread, suffice to say: you need to do some reading on the history between the House of Saud and the ruling family in Kuwait

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 7:54 pm

Off course now, back to the airlift debate, SO is right in that the majority of any military airlift is civilian that part is not in question, it’s in the records. He is also right in that in any serious conflict, the whole of British Airways can be nationalized, but to sustain ops out of purely military airlift is massively difficult, pure military aircraft do not have the numbers, not even the US, especially with the weight cap. I disagree that it is impossible, but rather very, very difficult. Your force must be structured for it, your enemy opposition must be vulnerable to light strike forces and the terrain must be advantageous for raiding forces and defending infantry and light artillery. Not impossible, but something like drawing a 21 in blackjack. All the cards must fall right, and that the op has priority over all other demands on air transport. And you will be taking casualties. Light strike forces are very vulnerable to small arms fire.

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 8:04 pm

ACC, only saw your post after mine went up. Is there a link between the Al-Sabah dynasty and the family of Ibn Saud? The only one I can find is that Saud claimed Kuwait in the Kuwait-Najd war and had nothing to do with dynastic disputes.

S O
S O
July 24, 2014 9:10 pm

“In the end the French ended up leaning heavily on its allies, including ourselves.”

I don’t recall them mobilizing Air France or improvising very much.
Look, all these military adventures are done with the left hand small finger these days. Nobody really mobilizes the power of both fists any more, because these adventures are understood to not be worth it. To buy and operate dozens of gold plated milspec cargo aircraft just in case is merely the equivalne tof buying a gold ring and wear it at all times; luxury of little to no use.

“to stop Libyan forces before they over ran major population centres. Something that needed to be done before a 19th century logistics chain could probably have even gotten itself moving.”

Actually, the Libyan air war intervention was yet another example of little force in the beginning, more force piled on later. And it was much slower than what late 19th century logistics were capable of. You should read some more about railroad logistics.

“I’m afraid you did [build a strawman]. The issue raised was about conflicting demands on the AN-124 fleet in ’91. But you’ve since gone off on some wild tangent about deploying and supplying a British brigade purely by air.”

What exactly don’t you understand in
“Airlift is a tiny bottleneck, good only for deploying and sustaining small forces. The UK is unlikely to get enough MilSpec airlift to sustain a single brigade in combat, for example.”

This was a response to the general topic (‘A400M bad or not’) and describes the limitations (and thus limited utility) of military airlift in general. You can’t understand this, OK – but this doens’t make it a strawman argument.
The discussion about strategic airlift is a wide one, and the whole Shinseki/Stryker saga is defintitively a relevant background.

“If that brigade helps to erase a breeding ground for terrorists destined for the UK then yes it can impact UK life.”

Never happened, unlikely to ever happen, actually quite the opposite happened twice: Both Afghanistan and Iraq had much less men motivated to fight the West before Western forces arrived there.
The weight of such fantasy arguments is nil. The opposite of your argument – the suscpicion that enabling politicians to play stupid military games may provoke avoidable backlash – is a valid argument against A400M, though.

“Except of course like the first stages of Mali. Or the first stages of Libya. Or the first stages of Desert Shield.”
Again;
Mali: UK didn’t even bother to intervene itself, so who cares?
Libya: Rail+truck logistics sufficed. Mil spec air freighters accelerated at most by a few days to what proved to last for months anyway.
ODS: The Americans were lying about the threat to Saudi-Arabia in 1990 as they were lying about the WMD threat in 2002. Notice how even a decade after occupying Baghdad they still didn’t show any evidence for aggressive intent in 1990?
There was no urgency to ODS, and the 82nd knew it was shit in desert defence. Besides, 82nd was airmobile in Boeing 747 freighters as well.

“And civilian airlift isn’t always going to be as amenable to your schedule as you would like”

Force majeure. If a government doesn’t even mandate its national airline to declare force majeure to cancel existing charter contracts (and have almost all its aircraft available within 24 hrs), then the military adventure cannot be that important or urgent.

“Then considering the fact that pretty much every armed forces the world across has invested in airlift of some sort,”

The political theory of bureaucracies explains this easily.
In case of Germany, the largely useless Noratlas/Transall fleets were a child of Demjansk/Stalingrad and the Berlin blockade. They never made sense in WW3 scenarios.
Now we’ve got those airlift wings, the bureaucracy, the officer slots – and just as a navy wants to replace its ships no matter what, the air force wants to replace its cargo aircraft. This doesn’t mean that they’re worth it.
A politically mature citizen forms his/her own opinion, and doesn’t believe in the bureaucracy’s demands. The bureaucracy’s arguments may be relevant, not its preferences. The citizens’ preferences matter only.

And the bureaucracies hardly have good arguments, for they cannot make the case that these aircraft are worth the money. They do no cost/benefit comparison, as they cannot point at much benefit.

Observer:
“I saw it even before the first Scud was popped off, I suspect Ixion did too and probably SO.”

At the time nobody I knew doubted that the Americans would win. The anxiety was only about the price in blood.
I myself remember mostly of the affair how I got angry about the inaccuracies of the media at the time. The regional newspaper misunderstood the Apache’s laser target designator as a laser cannon, for example.
My interests were still hardware-centric until a decade ago.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 24, 2014 9:19 pm

@ Thread
The simple fact and it is a fact is that we have utilised our Military airlift to virtually its capacity and beyond (having to charter FI air bridge, press Royal flight BAE 146 jets into action in ME troop role etc) over the last 20 years and we will no doubt fully utilise our A400M Fleet which gives us a different set of variables being fewer in number but individually less capable.
End of :)

The Other Chris
July 24, 2014 9:24 pm

Less?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 24, 2014 9:27 pm

@TOC

Damn, last line should read “individually more capable”

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 24, 2014 9:48 pm

Observer, just the small thing that when the al Saud were (temporarily) beaten, the ruling Kuwaitis gave them refuge. The former then went on to conquer their country back
… Then, with gross simplification, the same happened in reverse (the Kuwaitis did not conquer their country back themselves but it was their country, whereas the”their” when I first used it above should have been in brackets. Many good books about it.

The bottom line is that the al Saud owed them big time, paid back (with a lot of backlash against them inside the country)… And that is the exact opposite of how you were setting things up.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 24, 2014 9:52 pm
Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 10:03 pm

ACC, I really didn’t see anything about that, only the Kuwait-Najd war, the neutral partition zone and the embargo. Any references to go to? And a timeframe?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
July 24, 2014 10:35 pm

@Observer – Last decade of the Nineteenth Century, during the dynastic wars between the Al-Saud and Al-Rashid, the echoes of which had continuing resonance for the following forty years until modern Saudi Arabia was firmly established in 1933 (?). It’s some time since I read it, but I think T E Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom covers the background (either that or I found something that did when I was reading it, because I didn’t know what the hell was going on!).

I have in my library a pre-publication edition of said same, privately printed in London. :-)

More generally, I am startled as to those who see the only real Wars as those we might get dragged into wholesale in order to defend other people because of well-intentioned but increasingly hollow alliances entered into long ago…as opposed to those we might choose to engage in to defend an interest or a principle, or in some other way advance our national interests as the Government of the Day defines them… :-(

GNB

IXION
July 24, 2014 10:39 pm

Chris B

Wish I had known you at the time ….. would have put hell of a bet on with you.

Observer
Observer
July 24, 2014 11:14 pm

Gloomy, then the war between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia was a lot more recent was it? Think the claims and the fighting, the partition zone and the embargos were not sorted out until 1955?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
July 25, 2014 12:30 am

@Observer – As far as I know, the serious military confrontation was 1919/20…however matters never really settled down throughout the inter-war period and there were more fun and games in WW2 (including Britain’s first serious although small scale war with Iraq, who had invited the Germans in). I don’t think there were military confrontations post-war, although there was trouble between Kuwait and Iraq and between the House of Al Saud and Yemen (backed by Egypt).

Wouldn’t be at all surprised if settlements were not brokered until the 1950s/60s, and if there was sporadic tribal fighting (there quite possibly still is, and I doubt if we would ever know.) However I don’t know a deal about the area…there must be somebody out there better informed than me!

GNB

The Other Chris
July 25, 2014 5:17 am

Have a look at Palestine Police history. Although not the specific area you’re discussing there is a wealth of Information on maintaining the neighbouring region.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 25, 2014 1:25 pm

@ Observer,
“Chris.B, you are assuming that just because you could not see the writing on the wall, others could not too”
— Fella, the people on the ground, the people that actually went in and implemented all this have left a record behind of their thoughts at the time. Their thoughts, the thoughts of the people that had all the information and weren’t just watching it at home on the news, was that it was potentially going to be a difficult fight. That’s not saying that they weren’t confident of victory in the end, just that they had a lot of concerns.

You on the other hand, like Ixion, are using hindsight. You know now that the Iraqi morale was low and how everything was going to pan out. You wouldn’t have known this at the time. You couldn’t possibly have known it. The allied commanders didn’t know it. You’re using the knowledge that’s been acquired since and trying to claim you knew all this at the time, which is clearly bullshit.

Which brings us to the time question. You said; “I saw it even before the first Scud was popped off” Now, you’re an active reservist in Singapore yes? If you’re around the 30 mark now then you would have been 6 at the time (like me!). If you’re currently around 40, you would have been 16 at the time, and probably wouldn’t have had much more of a clue what was going on. If you’re around the 50 mark you’re probably too old to be an active infantry reservist as you claim. It’s going to be interesting to see what sort of answer you come up with to get out of that one.

“… you underestimate the effect that uncertainty has on oil prices beyond the price fixing by OPEC. OPEC will fix a price. Market forces will act on it to adjust the price in competition with demand”
— I think you’re forgetting that at the time half of the worlds proven oil reserves were in Saudi Arabia. If Iraq could have coaxed the Saudis into a favourable deal, that means that more than half of the worlds oil would have been under the restrictions (more when you consider the size of OPEC and its control of the market at the time). You talk about market forces, as if the world had a variety of other options as to where to go for their oil. The market was heavily dependent on that region. What market forces would have done, due to the limited supply, would have been to drive oil prices up. Which is the entire reason why OPEC existed and operated the way it did, because together they could control the price of oil.

“He is also right in that in any serious conflict, the whole of British Airways can be nationalized,”
— It would have to be some kind of punch up for you to get away with nationalising the whole of British Airways. I’m not sure we’d even have enough people to put on those flights. But let’s role with that example for just a moment. Looking at the current UK airline fleet, you can even throw in the requisition of cargo carriers who happen to have aircraft on the ground in the UK, how many of those aircraft can carry say an engineering vehicle? How many of those can carry an Apache? A Chinook? A Merin? The proposed CAMM(L) and its support? Some armoured scout vehicles?

@ SO,
I don’t recall them mobilizing Air France or improvising very much”
— How many Air France aircraft can carry a VAB? A VBCI? An AMX-10? A CAESAR? An ERC-90? A Tiger attack helicopter? A Cougar transport heli? How many could have flown in the required towed artillery and unloaded it at a third world airfield?

“Nobody really mobilizes the power of both fists any more, because these adventures are understood to not be worth it”
— Or maybe because they don’t need the entire army to descend on somewhere like Mali just to hold back and then defeat a group of rebels. The French pulled that particular operation off with something like a Brigades worth of troops. The UK did Sierra Leone without having to redeploy the whole of British Forces Germany to face the threat. Again, just because a situation doesn’t require mass conscription to meet the threat, doesn’t mean that it’s not important.

“Actually, the Libyan air war intervention was yet another example of little force in the beginning, more force piled on later. And it was much slower than what late 19th century logistics were capable of.”
— The force in the beginning was the bit that was most critical. That was the bit that stopped the major bloodshed and gave the rebels the breathing room. If time had been lost at the stage then the Libyan army would have been in amongst the civilian populace in places like Benghazi, and by that point it probably would have been too late.

“This was a response to the general topic (‘A400M bad or not’) and describes the limitations (and thus limited utility) of military airlift in general””
— Because it has nothing to do with the debate that was being held. Nobody said anything about sustaining brigades in combat, you just plucked that out of the air to try and use as a stick to beat on the air lift concept. There are lots of uses for it, from rapid build ups to more mundane, routine lifting. But you picked on a concept that nobody has suggested, nobody is even considering, and isn’t really relevant, then said “it can’t do that, therefore the whole idea is shit”.

“Never happened, unlikely to ever happen” [a brigade action eliminating a terrorist threat to the UK]
— Northern Ireland?

“Mali: UK didn’t even bother to intervene itself, so who cares?
Libya: Rail+truck logistics sufficed. Mil spec air freighters accelerated at most by a few days to what proved to last for months anyway.
ODS: The Americans were lying about the threat to Saudi-Arabia in 1990 as they were lying about the WMD threat in 2002. Notice how even a decade after occupying Baghdad they still didn’t show any evidence for aggressive intent in 1990?”

— Mali; because those were our allies, performing an operation similar to what the UK has done before and might do again, demonstrating what happens when you don’t have enough military airlift available.
Libya; Airlift was essential to the first aircraft deployments, particularly to those who deployed to Sicily and Sardinia.
ODS; Erm, the Iraqis lined up along the Saudi border and began making threats. Again, the information the people in charge at the time had suggested this was a viable threat. The Saudis themselves were the ones that invited the US to come.

“If a government doesn’t even mandate its national airline to declare force majeure to cancel existing charter contracts (and have almost all its aircraft available within 24 hrs), then the military adventure cannot be that important or urgent.”
— See above for the limits of civilian airlfit, coupled with the fact that civilian airlines would – I suspect – get quite annoyed if you were constantly shutting them down. They’d probably recommend you buy some of your own….

“The political theory of bureaucracies explains this easily”
— Or maybe it’s just because everyone has realised how handy this capability is to have around. You know, what with it being in heavy demand and all. I point you towards APATS’s quote; “The simple fact and it is a fact is that we have utilised our Military airlift to virtually its capacity and beyond (having to charter FI air bridge, press Royal flight BAE 146 jets into action in ME troop role etc) over the last 20 years!”

@ IXION,
“Wish I had known you at the time…would have put hell of a bet on with you.”
— I was 6 at the time. And again, you’re using hindsight. At the time you wouldn’t have had access to any of the information we have now. You would have been reliant on the media coverage, and the media coverage of the time was bordering on the hysterical inflating the numbers and capability of the Iraqis well beyond even the concerns of those in the know.

Again, put your hindsight to one side. The commanders of the era knew;

That they were facing a very large enemy force containing hundreds of thousands of men, with thousands of tanks and armoured vehicles, and thousands of artillery pieces. That some of these units, like the Republican Guard, had tanks of the T-72 variety, something which US forces had never had the chance to actually face in a stand up fight, so they didn’t know how good or bad these tanks would prove to be. The Iraqis had just come off the back of a major war with Iran, so the standing assumption was that many of the Iraqi units would have contained battle hardened veterans with experienced commanders. The Iraqis, in that same conflict, had endured some bloody battles and kept fighting, which suggested that Iraqi soldiers would be somewhat resistant to morale shocks and would keep fighting hard even in the face of superior force and high casualties. That the Iraqis had used chemical weapons against their enemy, so there was a very real risk that they would use chemical weapons as part of the coming battle. That the average Iraqi pilot had more genuine combat experience than his American counter part.

This is the picture that faced the coalition planners. If you were as unconcerned and confident that it would be a walk over as you make out (how old were you at that time, and what understanding/interest did you have in the military at that time?) then you’re either lying, or you were simply completely ignorant of the details.

Observer
Observer
July 25, 2014 1:42 pm

Chris B. it wasn’t “hindsight”, it was practical evaluation even then. There was no way that Iraq could have won, their control was severely messed up even then. They could not take aggressive action, their defensive situation was bad, there was no way they could have gotten out of that mess alive, and before you go on about how old or young I was (actually I remember because it was just around that time I entered the army more or less), I still do remember the “Highway of Death” telecasts and the clusterbombing of retreating Iraqi convoys. If you were 6, that might explain why you could not make a good evaluation of the situation. Frankly, they were screwed.

I have a sneaky suspicion why we have such a difference in opinion. Your opinion of the US army is probably post Cold War, while some of us here still remember that the US Army, as IXION said, was designed to take the 3rd Shock Army head on and come out on top. A bunch of ragheads using downgraded export level equipment isn’t even going to be a door stop. The question only was “how fast do you get to the border”.

monkey
monkey
July 25, 2014 2:03 pm

.B & Observer
The Persian war lasted 8 years ending in 1988 with an Iraqi force of 1.5m men in uniform , 5k+ tanks , 5k+ other armour , 10k+ artillery , 1k helicopters , 1.5k aircraft . They fought hard losing from 100k to 400k dead and a similar variance in wounded ( both side refused international observers so we have taken each others estimates ) Perhaps the Iraqi forces had no stomach for a further fight , perhaps not . Based on this information though our commanders expected a fight and planned accordingly .

S O
S O
July 25, 2014 2:36 pm

“How many could have flown in the required towed artillery and unloaded it at a third world airfield?”

That “third world airfield” which you seemt o imply is of poor quality would be at Bamako: 2706 m asphalt runway length. Anything but a Space Shuttle can use it. French troops and supplies were flown in with Airbus planes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senou_International_Airport
—————-
“How many Air France aircraft can carry a VAB? A VBCI? An AMX-10? A CAESAR? An ERC-90? A Tiger attack helicopter? A Cougar transport heli?”

Quite irrelevant, as most supplies are not very bulky, and Air France wasn’t the only transportation resource available no matter if you imply it or not. French armoured cars were sealifted because the French transalls were not capable of moving the forces.
“In January 2013, the deployment of the VBCIs deployed for French Operation Serval in Mali was carried out by sealift from the South of France to Senegal and from there, they were ground convoyed through poor and IED-exposed roads up to Northern Mali (Gao) – totalling a journey of two weeks.”
http://www.airbusmarketingnews.com/en/english/item/309-heaviest-vehicle-in-a400m-to-date
In other words: Operation Serval proved you hardly need an A400M or similar aircraft for operations of this kind (since none were in french service at the time). An A400M or C-17 is a luxury which buys hardly any time – at great cost.
————–
“Again, just because a situation doesn’t require mass conscription to meet the threat, doesn’t mean that it’s not important.”

Both coincides regularly. France didn’t need to care what happens in the Sahara. Mali wasn’t and isn’t important to France. They just chose to intervene because they felt like it.
—————
“The force in the beginning was the bit that was most critical. That was the bit that stopped the major bloodshed and gave the rebels the breathing room. If time had been lost at the stage then the Libyan army would have been in amongst the civilian populace in places like Benghazi, and by that point it probably would have been too late.”

Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. I don’t think you can actually predict what would have happened. There’s such a thing as the culminating point of attack, for example.
And again, logistics for the intervention over Libya could have been stemmed without any mil spec cargo aircraft.
————–
“civilian airlines would – I suspect – get quite annoyed if you were constantly shutting them down. They’d probably recommend you buy some of your own….”

“constantly shutting them down” – see? THIS is a strawman.

No legislation or government needs to care about the whims of industry captains. The government is in power, and for-profit corporations have to obey this power, period. Their profit interests are irrelevant; it’s the citizens’ interests which matter and it makes no sense to tax the citizens much in order to spare a corporation from having to announce a small loss.
—————-
“Or maybe it’s just because everyone has realised how handy this capability is to have around.”

Handy for wasteful adventure games of politicians which happen to help some bureaucracies to ‘justify’ their budget and increases thereof, yes.
It’s no good allocation of resources in regard to the citizens’ interests, though. France should rather invest in jobs for the population of Paris’ banlieus than in cargo aircraft for political adventure games.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 25, 2014 2:51 pm

Now any French readers of this blog do not need to consult the dictionary anymore, to know what a BesserWisser is:
“Handy for wasteful adventure games of politicians which happen to help some bureaucracies to ‘justify’ their budget and increases thereof, yes.
It’s no good allocation of resources in regard to the citizens’ interests, though. France should rather invest in jobs for the population of Paris’ banlieus than in cargo aircraft for political adventure games.”

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 25, 2014 4:18 pm

@ Observer,

“There was no way that Iraq could have won…”
— Woah there horsey!! Who said anything about the Iraqis winning?

The issue was never seriously in doubt that the coalition was going to win, the question was about how many casualties were going to be suffered in the process. You and Ixion are painting a picture like the coalition knew from the start that the Iraqis would fold like a bad hand and that losses would be – relatively speaking – very minimal. The reality was more, as Monkey said; “Based on this information though our commanders expected a fight and planned accordingly”. Not that they expected to lose, but they expected more or less a tough fight, one that could potentially incur some hard losses.

“I still do remember the “Highway of Death” telecasts and the clusterbombing of retreating Iraqi convoys”
— Which occured after the invasion had started. Or are you telling me that you had psychic powers?

“A bunch of ragheads using downgraded export level equipment isn’t even going to be a door stop”
— That bunch of ‘ragheads’ was at the time the most battle hardened army anywhere in the world. Most of the things that contributed heavily to its collapse (the poor morale, poor leadership, poor supply) were not known to the coalition commanders at the start. They only became aparrent after the fact. Again, you’re judging the Iraqi force using hindsight, something that Schwarzkopf et al did not have available to them. As a young recruit listening to the news you probably had almost no idea about the details, let alone enough to judge the campaign as being a walk over.

@ SO,
“That “third world airfield” which you seemt o imply is of poor quality would be at Bamako:”
— It’s an airfield. In a third world country. Hence its a third world airfield. I didn’t say it was of poor quality nor is the length of the runway of any concern, the question I asked you was how many Air France aircraft could fit Frances towed artillery systems inside and would they be able to unload them at the other end (as in, did the airport have the required handling equipment?

“Quite irrelevant”
— Because it fucks up your argument, non? Lots of the equipment, trucks, armoured vehicles etc were flown in. Air France could not have done this.

“…. and Air France wasn’t the only transportation resource available no matter if you imply it or not.”
— It was you that said; “I don’t recall them mobilizing Air France”. You brought it up, not me.

“French armoured cars were sealifted because the French transalls were not capable of moving the forces”
— Please read this nice link, which has a picture of a French vehicle being driven out the back of a Canadian CC-117 (because…. Canada); http://canadiandefence.com/mali-escalates/

Allow me to quote a section of the piece for you;
<blockquote cite=””>With a big assist from the U.S., U.K. and other allies, Paris is deploying heavier vehicles, high-tech artillery pieces and its most sophisticated helicopter gunship, the Tiger. The reinforcements reflect France’s surprise at discovering that Mali’s rebels possess some dangerous weaponry of their own.

According to Clément-Bollée, the first of the Cheetah forces activated shortly after the Jan. 11 opening salvo. “We had a very rapid need for a company of the 92nd Infantry,” he revealed. The 92nd is equipped with the wheeled Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie, a sort of light tank armed with a 25-millimeter cannon. Twenty or so of the 26-ton VBCIs were airlifted into Mali to join the lighter armored cars and recon vehicles belonging to the garrison units”

And the Americans boasting about delivering 2 million pounds of cargo; http://www.usafe.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123336532

“In other words: Operation Serval proved you hardly need an A400M or similar aircraft for operations of this kind (since none were in french service at the time)”
— Somehow, and I still don’t understand how you did it, you’ve managed to draw the precise opposite conclusion to everyone else that’s studied this in any detail. You seem to have completely missed what was probably the major lesson of the campaign; that because France lacked its own strategic airlift capability it became utterly reliant on its allies to provide this for them (including 11 C-17s in total).

“Mali wasn’t and isn’t important to France. They just chose to intervene because they felt like it.”
— You sir, are an idiot.

“I don’t think you can actually predict what would have happened” [Libyan forces about to enter Benghazi]
— Well they weren’t going in to start making daisy chains with the locals. Unless we take that literally, in the sense of using the locals as the daisies…

““constantly shutting them down” – see? THIS is a strawman.”
— Erm, I refer you back to your previous statement; “If a government doesn’t even mandate its national airline to declare force majeure to cancel existing charter contracts (and have almost all its aircraft available within 24 hrs)”. What is an airline going to do without almost all of its aircraft? I suppose technically if they had some aircraft spare they could still run services and thus wouldn’t be shut down.

“No legislation or government needs to care about the whims of industry captains. The government is in power, and for-profit corporations have to obey this power, period.”
— I’d love to see the state of an economy in your hands!

“Handy for wasteful adventure games of politicians which happen to help some bureaucracies to ‘justify’ their budget and increases thereof, yes.”
— Again, not everyone is as obsessed with the idea that all wars have to be total wars against major powers as you. The Falklands War was important to the UK, but it didn’t consume the entire national resources.

“It’s no good allocation of resources in regard to the citizens’ interests, though. France should rather invest in jobs for the population of Paris’ banlieus than in cargo aircraft for political adventure games”
— An odd statement, considering that France plays a role in the construction of the aircraft, so buying them does support French jobs!

S O
S O
July 25, 2014 4:53 pm

/quote/ “…. and Air France wasn’t the only transportation resource available no matter if you imply it or not.”
– It was you that said; “I don’t recall them mobilizing Air France”./quote/

It’s a recurring irritation to me how often people don’t seem to apply logic.
I did not write ‘I don’t recall them mobilizing Air France and decide to use it as only means of transportation without any other charter aircraft.’, yet that seems to be what what you read.
———–
“Please read this nice link,”

Said link is a report from January, 24th, reporting about what seemed to have happened the day before; 23rd.
Op Serval began on the 11th, 12 days earlier. Add a few days for delays even with airlift, so the political decision w as probably made on the 8th at the latest..
The Airbus links I offered before claims that alternative sealift and movement on land took 2 weeks – 14 days.
This is perfectly in sync with what I wrote repeatedly; expensive mil spec cargo aircraft added only very few days and the Op could have been pulled off without them.
They’re not worth the expense.
———–
“And the Americans boasting about delivering 2 million pounds of cargo”

About 900 metric tons. Bamako airfield can take this small amount in with a series of Boeing 747 landings within two hours if need be. The use of a small metric to get huge-looking figures doesn’t work on me.
———–
“You sir, are an idiot.”

Second ad hominem. This kinda makes it official; I ‘won’ the discussion.
———–
“Erm, I refer you back to your previous statement”

Irrelevant; your choice of the word “constantly” is completely out of place and a clear strawman. Nothing you may quote changes this.
———–
“I’d love to see the state of an economy in your hands!”

There’s none, but it’s baffling how you apparently never understood the concept of rule of law. I didn’t describe anything else, after all.
———–
“Again, not everyone is as obsessed with the idea that all wars have to be total wars against major powers as you. The Falklands War was important to the UK, but it didn’t consume the entire national resources. ”

The majority of British didn’t know in 1981 about the existence of the Falklands. Almost none of them ever visited the Falklands. The supposedly oh-so important oil production potential is still fantasy more than three decades later. The wool and meat export of the Falklands is still negligible. Large parts of the UK public didn’t think the campaign was worth it until it succeeded (it happens that Hitler was most popular after the fall of France in 1940; people are always enthusiastic about winning, no matter whether fighting the war was a good idea in the first place).
It was not important. Hardly anyone in the UK would have noticed a change in his or her life if the Falklands had been given up.
————-
“An odd statement, considering that France plays a role in the construction of the aircraft, so buying them does support French jobs!”

Digging a long canal, pouring kerosene into it, lighting it up and then reversing the whole digging would also create jobs in France. And it would be about as wasteful as buying the A400M.

You should check your econ thinking; after all, investing in economic development of the poor Paris banlieues would also “support French jobs”, and even create new ones. How much omission of relevant facts does it take to even consider the “jobs” argument when the two alternatives mentioned both entail jobs, and the one favoured by you clearly entails less so for the unemployed demographic?

Observer
Observer
July 25, 2014 5:11 pm

Chris, your stand is utterly stupid because of one point. You are trying to tell me what I was thinking (or not) 20 years ago when you were 6. Unless you mastered advanced mindreading and time travel, you are ASSUMING that I can’t see something so glaringly obvious as force disparity and totally f-ed up troop distribution and the lack of defensive terrain and offensive options. My point on the telecast is that I watched it WHEN IT WAS BROADCAST and when I was old enough to understand and remember what was happening then, something I doubt you can do at age 6.

It wasn’t hindsight, even during the buildup, it was clear the Iraqis were hugely outmatched. If you can’t see that, then you can’t see that. Some people just don’t have the eye.

GAB
GAB
July 25, 2014 5:39 pm

S O July 24, 2014 at 1:01 am “It is much cheaper (and definitively not preferred by the military bureaucracies) to prepare for peer conflict with civilian resources than to develop and buy gold plated milspec big ticket items.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

A breath of fresh air and wisdom here!

GAB

The Other Chris
July 25, 2014 5:41 pm

Could you tone the Fisking down please?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
July 25, 2014 6:26 pm

B. – I was 34 in 1991, keenly interested in politics and matters military, and living in the UK; I followed the serious press on GW1 very keenly indeed…furthermore, the chap who rowed 3 to my 2 in the Club Second Eight was a Major in the TA and was tasked as a Casualty Notification Officer at the time…from that perspective, my recollection of those events is very similar to your speculation. People expected the Coalition would win, but that casualties might well be considerable.

No more than anecdotal, but that was how it looked and felt at the time to somebody taking an intelligent interest in events whilst living in one of the key coalition partners, and having some contact with a Reserve Officer who was being briefed regularly on how busy he was likely to be in his necessary but very painful task…

Be interested to know what Red Trousers thinks…was he expecting a walk-over?

GNB

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 25, 2014 6:45 pm

@ SO,

“It’s a recurring irritation to me how often people don’t seem to apply logic”
— It was you that first started talking about Air France only. That’s all you mentioned. Do you think the civvy market would be able to replace 11 C-17’s worth of outsized cargo lift?

“This is perfectly in sync with what I wrote repeatedly; expensive mil spec cargo aircraft added only very few days and the Op could have been pulled off without them”
— The sealift didn’t leave till the 21st/22nd. So add two weeks onto that for the journey. It seems the air lift was bringing in Tigers as early as the 13th/14th, as Gazelles had already proven vulnerable. Even if you presume that the VBCI flown in arrived only the day before the article was written, that still means they arrived two weeks ahead of the others, a capability which the French had identified as critical to continuing the campaign.

You still seem to also not be grasping the concept that the French asked for help because they needed it urgently.

“About 900 metric tons. Bamako airfield can take this small amount in with a series of Boeing 747 landings within two hours if need be”
— Even if we presume that you used freight specific 747s (because passenger versions would have a large, fixed seating capacity), and that you were able to stuff the maximum weight of cargo into each 747 (volume might preclude that), presuming you use the latest version of the 747, and presuming that we over look the fact that a 747 cannot carry any of the outsized loads, then you’re looking at 7 aircraft just for a start.

The reality, not least because you’re going to struggle to get 140 tonnes into the volume of a 747 without using armour, and because you’re pushing the bounds of reality that every aircraft you’re able to get a hold of is a latest version 747, means you’re going to need a lot more. And so far you’ve transported zero armoured vehicles, and zero outsized loads.

“Second ad hominem. This kinda makes it official; I ‘won’ the discussion.”
— I’d like to know where the first is, but what else is there to say when you seriously, genuinely believe that the only reason that France got involved in Mali was because Hollande rolled out of bed one morning and said “fuck it, let’s do it. I just feel like it”. If you actually think that’s how leaders make decisions about these things then you are an idiot.

“Irrelevant; your choice of the word “constantly” is completely out of place and a clear strawman. Nothing you may quote changes this”
— If every time you want to conduct a military operation you have to shut down the national flag carrier to provide resources then it is happening constantly. Under your scheme British Airways will have spent at least the last 8 years servicing the needs of Afghanistan and Iraq, for which I’m sure they would be delighted with you.

“There’s none, but it’s baffling how you apparently never understood the concept of rule of law. I didn’t describe anything else, after all”
— You said the government was in power and everyone had to obey! Western Governments, as a rule, are also obligied to follow the law. And any government that has aspirations of lasting a long time and not completely destroying its economy will not go around constantly burdening its private enterprises with the responsibility of picking up the pieces of failed government preparation, or forcing private companies to keep dropping everything they’re doing and running to the governments beck and call.

“It was not important. Hardly anyone in the UK would have noticed a change in his or her life if the Falklands had been given up”
— The Falklands was, and is, British Sovereign territory. What else are an armed forces raised for if not to protect sovereign territory? There are parts of the UK that when you take them in isolation (such as a small village) are not hugely important to the UK from an economic perspective. But if another nation parachuted in and seized the village do you really think the government would just sit back and say “oh that’s ok, you can have Elmstead Market, it’s not worth anything to us anyway”?

“Digging a long canal, pouring kerosene into it, lighting it up and then reversing the whole digging would also create jobs in France. And it would be about as wasteful as buying the A400M”
— Except that the A400M will serve a purpose for France. It will also employ pilots and ground crew to look after it. And France will benefit from all the other A400M purchases.

@ Observer,
…. you are ASSUMING that I can’t see something so glaringly obvious as force disparity and totally f-ed up troop distribution and the lack of defensive terrain and offensive options. My point on the telecast is that I watched it WHEN IT WAS BROADCAST and when I was old enough to understand and remember what was happening then. It wasn’t hindsight, even during the buildup, it was clear the Iraqis were hugely outmatched. If you can’t see that, then you can’t see that. Some people just don’t have the eye”
— I’m afraid there’s one fatal flaw in your position; you were several thousand miles away watching it all on the news, and as such had no idea what so ever what the force disparity was, what the troop distribution was, what the terrain looked like and what the offensive options were. These are things you would not have been privvy to until after the fact. You can’t possibly have understood them because you had no physical means to know them.

I’m intrigued to know how you get around that? You would have no clue, none whatsoever, how many units the Iraqis had. Or where they were positioned. Or what kind of terrain they had available to them. You would have had no way of assessing their morale, their supply situation. The mix of their equipment. All the information that people use to make judgements of the level of opposition the enemy might face, you wouldn’t have had access to a shred of it. None.

You couldn’t have “had the eye” because you wouldn’t have a had a fucking clue what the enemy looked like beyond vague news reports, all of which at the time were going the other way and bigging the Iraqis up.

I presume as well that you include among the people that “didn’t have the eye” all of the coalition commanders, the ones planning the thing that had all the latest and most accurate information about the Iraqi forces, terrain, composition etc available to anyone in world outside of Iraq, who were concerned about the number of casualties they were going to suffer.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 25, 2014 6:47 pm

@ GNB,

Sorry, didn’t see your post before I posted my last. That’s the general impression you get when you look and ask around, that everyone thought the coalition would win, but were expecting a rough ride in the process.

Phil
July 25, 2014 7:06 pm

20%-40% casualties were expected in the USMC units breaching into Kuwait. Walt Boomer and Stormin Norman are on BBC television record of stating that this is the level of casualties they expected to take and that chemical weapons were expected to be used.

An easy and definitive way to see what level of casualties were planned for is to look at the level of battle casualty replacements in-theatre for the UK and US.

The UK had the Armoured Delivery Group, a battalion level command (over one sixth the fighting force)

3x tank squadrons
1x recce troop
3x armoured infantry companies

The US had the WRSO programme and SCT programme. This comprised the equivalent of

2x tank battalions
2x mech battalions
1x light infantry battalion
1x large mixed FA battalion
1x Scout Company

So the UK intended to be able to replace the bayonet strength of 1.5 battlegroups and the US expected to replace the equivalent of an entire US Army brigade. One would expect that a certain level of attrition would be acceptable and not require reinforcement so it is entirely conceivable that expected casualties would be higher than this.

Not a walkover.

PS: The USMC doesn’t seem to have had a similar system but would presumably cycle attrited units with reserve ones as per WWII practice (or keep units fighting until the end). They had the 5th and 4th MEBs (+ 13 MEU) in reserve in the Persian Gulf and 2x more MEUs in the Med (8x infantry battalions in reserve afloat and not assigned to 1st or 2d MARDIVs).

Simon257
Simon257
July 25, 2014 7:24 pm

@ Thread

It’s 30 years ago this year, that this BBC News report was first broadcast:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uDZ4_NH4y7w

Which left an 11 year old boy wondering how this could possibly happen?

This was HMG’s Military Response:

http://www.ukmams.co.uk/Operations/Operations/OpBushel.html

And with Bob Geldof’s Musical response as background music, some images of operations in Eithiopia:
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=c-1owRlvZXU

Now if anyone thinks that an Civilian Airliner can go where a purpose built Airlifter like the Hercules or the A400M can go. Or Airdrop supplies like said aircraft, you really need to lay of the Rastafarian Old Holburn!

Simon257
Simon257
July 25, 2014 7:32 pm

To late to edit:

This link shows an RAF Hercules landing on a dusty strip in Eithopia, circa 1986:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oYBNKH3sJI0

S O
S O
July 25, 2014 7:42 pm

“Do you think the civvy market would be able to replace 11 C-17′s worth of outsized cargo lift?”

That’s not a question of thinking or believing; it’s a matter of fact.
Airbus operates five Belugas alone. A third of the An-124s are non-Russian (Ukraine, for example). This alone is more than the equivalnet of 11 C-17s already.
————
” that still means they arrived two weeks ahead of the others”
.. by your own timeline a matter of planning. You could just as well prepare for rapic sealift and minimise time till ship leaves port to 48 hrs. You’d need ultra-cheap ISO container-compatible stackable vehicle platforms, and every containership in port would become available on short notice. The costs would be a fraction of the costs of a single A400M.
Military fanbois would derive no entertainment from this, of course. And the military bureaucracy wuldn’t be delighted either.
————
“You still seem to also not be grasping the concept that the French asked for help because they needed it urgently. ”

It was readily available and gave befriended governments an opportunity to pretend that they’re not toally inactive. There’s no evidence Operation Serval would have failed without foreign airlift, or without mil spec airlift at all. The French would have adapted slightly and impatient news watchers would have had their infotainment a couple days later.
————
“Under your scheme British Airways will have spent at least the last 8 years servicing the needs of Afghanistan and Iraq”

That’s bullshit. The British airlift needs were small in comparison during those years.
Military airlift is extremely lazy and inefficient in comparison to civilian airlines; almost no flying hours per day, whereas many civilian airliners are more in the air than on the ground. A tiny fraction of BA could have maintained excellent regular connections to Kuwait and Kabul, and this was easily in range of conventional chartering. Mobilization would only be required for large airlift needs.
————
“And so far you’ve transported zero armoured vehicles, and zero outsized loads. ”

Doesn’t matter. There’s plenty large volume airlift available for chartering which could land and take off at Bamako as well. And as mentioned several times already; even that’s unnecessary because sealift works and adds little delay. And railroad/truck/sealift logistics are a necessity in large operations anyway.
————
“You said the government was in power and everyone had to obey! Western Governments, as a rule, are also obligied to follow the law.”

Learn to read. I wrote
“No legislation or government needs to care about the whims of industry captains. The government is in power, and for-profit corporations have to obey this power, period.”

And now try to understand what I meant with “legislation”. Maybe the legislative branch, AKA the parliament?
————
“The Falklands was, and is, British Sovereign territory. What else are an armed forces raised for if not to protect sovereign territory?”
The military was also once tasked to defend colonies, and they too were given up. This is about making political decisions. Sometimes it’s not worth it, and killing 250+ British citizens to keep 2,000 in a quite hostile environment was considered a folly by many. Especially as the RN was effectively proving itself being unnecessary for NATO defence, becoming unavailable for NATO for months without WW3 happening.
————
“– Except that the A400M will serve a purpose for France. It will also employ pilots and ground crew to look after it. And France will benefit from all the other A400M purchases. ”

So much nonsense at once.
(a) ‘serve a purpose’ – or rather provoke future French presidents to embark on stupid military adventures, killing French citizens and squandering money? There’s no evidence that there’s a net benefit in those A400Ms. That’s what I’m trying to show here.
(b) pilots and ground crew – equivalents of ecologists trying to determine the damage done to nature by pouring so much kerosene into the ground.
To employ people is no pro argument. Its a mirror of costs. You spend a billion on something domestically – some people will be employed. This is no argument in favour of one option over another, unless the employment effect benefits the poor more in one option than another.
(c) Partner nations buy something in France, but French A400Ms will include goods and services from partners – zero sum. There’s no pro-argument for A400M in there.
++++++++++++
You appear to be genuinely incapable of weighting pro and contra and of comparing alternative options. Instead, you look at (or mention) only the advantages of a preferred option, even if alternative options are actually stronger on that point.
I wouldn’t trust you with the management of a McDonald’s restaurant’s night shift.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 25, 2014 8:17 pm

From recollection of the events during GW1, it was no where near considered to be a walk over at the time, and in some cases large casualties were expected. You only have to look at what was deployed to realise the thinking of the senior leadership. BAOR was cannibalised to support our units in the Gulf, the air war went on for weeks with hundreds of aircraft and the scale of defences expected in terms of depth was also large, especially after the Iraqi’s had months to prepare for an invasion.

@S O

You have also misunderstood the mood of the nation when it comes to the Falklands conflict, the general population may not have known about them before hand, but once the word got out that a British territory had been invaded and British citizens were under the control of a dictatorship there was no question that the country supported the action. It was different times then, WW2 was still raw in some peoples memory.

Jonathan
Jonathan
July 25, 2014 8:41 pm

@DN

Agree with your comments, although young in 82, coming from a navy family and a navy town I remember the mood,build up and losses very well. I would hope the nation would still hold the same mood and resolve if british territory was ever invaded/ threatened again. History has never been kind to cultures/nations which have lacked the will to defend themselves and their citizens, even it’s its a few thousand people on a far away Island. As it turns out that same island may end up a key strategic asset for our nations security and prosperity as we head further into the 21st century, funny how karmic the world can be.

Rocco
Rocco
July 25, 2014 8:47 pm

@ TD

One of your posts talked about maintenance intervals for the A400. Have you got anything you can reference for the A400 versus a new-build J model Herc?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 25, 2014 8:48 pm

@ S O,

So that’s your future plan, to requisition all of Airbus’s transports, which they use as part of their integrated logistic system. So not only do you have to pay for the use of the equipment and crews, but you also have to compensate Airbus for the delays you’ve just introduced into their construction program. They’re gonna love you!

But not to worry, you’ve got all those lovely AN-124s. Presuming of course you can out bid whoever is using them at the time and that they are prepared to drop everything to come to your aid. And that where you’re sending them can take them. And that where you’re sending them is somewhere that the civ company is prepared to fly. And providing of course that nobody else needs them at that specific point in time. And providing they don’t gouge the shit out of you on price.

All minor points though. Especially as you’re planning to rebuild the vehicle fleet to make it ISO container compatible, and you plan on requisitioning every container ship in port, despite the fact that most container ships will be registered with a foreign country. I’m sure they won’t mind though!

As for costs, we’ll ignore the fact that RAND did a comparitive study between commercial and military air movements in Afghanistant and found military airlift to be cheaper.

As for the French, you’re right, they had no idea what they were doing and had no need for all the equipment they brought in. What a waste. Silly France. Couldn’t they have just asked the rebels to wait two weeks, I’m sure they would have obliged.

And you’re right about airlift in Afghanistan. Silly British, didn’t they know that all the stuff that they flew in and out of Bastion wasn’t necessary? 40 pallets a day of cargo, plus all the personnel movements, medical and repatriation flights, and outsized cargo loads, barely anything look! I’m sure British Airways wouldn’t have minded having to divert significant numbers of aircraft away from its scheduled services so its aircraft could run back and forth to dusty old Bastion, just because the government couldn’t be arsed to sort its own transport out. That wouldn’t have caused any hassle at all!

And you’re right, why should governments care about business? It’s not like businesses do anything anyway is it? I mean, you could absolutely get away with abusing them on a regular basis without any consequence whatsoever. Nobody would batter an eye lid if the government suddenly became extremely dictatorial every time an incident occured.

You’re also right about the Falklands Islands. Why would any government give a shit about having its territory invaded by a foreign power? What kind of nonsense did they think they were pulling by responding to this illegal act of aggression? It’s only a few peasant farmers after all.

And you’re right, what possible advantage could France gain by acquiring A400Ms? It’s not like France has recently been shown to be seriously lacking in strategic airlift, something which every analyst on the planet would agree with except for one particular fella in Germany who doesn’t seem to understand the thing that everyone else can see clear as day, now is it?

The kind that would moan that the French government could better use the money to help employ people, and then when he has it shown to him that people are employed using that money, then complains that employing people is no pro-argument. Or who fails to realise that France is only buying a portion of the A400M, with most of the purchases coming from outside, so probably will realise a slight net gain in the long run.

“You appear to be genuinely incapable of weighting pro and contra and of comparing alternative options”
— And you appear to be incapable of looking at evidence and accepting it. You’re literally the only person that doesn’t seem to understand the reasons why military airlift exists and why it might be beneficial. Then you accuse me of only seeing the benefits behind one option while ignoring the negatives, despite the fact that throughout this thread you’ve waved away all the (many and often crippling) negatives of your own approach as if they didn’t exist.

“I wouldn’t trust you with the management of a McDonald’s restaurant’s night shift”
— Is that because you know I wouldn’t even employ you to flip the burgers?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
July 25, 2014 8:52 pm

@SO – Generally happy to enjoy other peoples knockabout, but describing an insurrection in which many innocent Malians died, great destruction was done to ancient centres of civilization (including Timbuktu) and our French Allies took an honourable part at the request of the legitimate local Government…and at some risk…as “Infotainment” as though it was some sort of put-up job to amuse the mob is pretty reprehensible.

You might consider it “enlightened” to treat all War short of self-defence as either an avoidable folly or a bit of a joke, but that view is not universal…and might…possibly…be absolutely dead wrong.

Especially for people like the Falkland Islanders, the people of Sierra Leone, the people of Sarajevo, the Kurds, anyone in Afghanistan not keen to live in a Seventh Century Hell-Hole, the people of Benghazi and those of Mali. Those currently subject to Assad, the Caliph Ibrahim or living on the edge of disaster in the Ukraine might well take a different view as well.

Still, there’s nobody quite so sanctimonious as a dry alcoholic or reformed smoker, so perhaps we ought to make allowances…

GNB

S O
S O
July 25, 2014 9:00 pm

Maybe you describe only your socio-demographic’s reaction or rather your memory thereof.

There are some works of research which point out the limited citizenship of the islanders at the time, the disputedness of either claims and the lukewarm policy of HM government in regard to the Falklands before the invasion.
“The Falklands War: Britain Versus the Past in the South Atlantic” by Daniel K. Gibran, for example.
Google books has some chapters of it.

There’s also the historical fact that the Labour party was divided on the issue publicly.

Perceptions changed later on; victors tend to write the history books, and they also dominate the perceptions and memories. Those who disagreed at the time were silenced and those who supported have become emboldened.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 25, 2014 9:06 pm

It’s best to read more than one book on a subject. And isn’t a book an interpretation of events from the author, unless it just has pages of media articles and minutes from cabinet meetings, coupled with interviews of the white van man.

You state yourself it references the luke warm policy of the government before the invasion. But like I said once the general population got the news they wanted action.

Phil
July 25, 2014 9:13 pm

Those who disagreed at the time were silenced and those who supported have become emboldened.

It’s no secret that quite some people had doubts about sending the cream of the British forces to fight 8,000 miles away for a war they weren’t supposed to fight any more over a poxy peat bog full of people that nobody had given an atom of a shit over for a very long time. However, if anyone in Cabinet disagreed with the decision to fight they would not have been “silenced”: they’d have been expected to resign or agree.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 25, 2014 9:18 pm

It’s best to read more than one book on a subject. And isn’t a book an interpretation of events from the author, unless it just has pages of media articles and minutes from cabinet meetings, coupled with interviews of the white van man.

You state yourself the book references the lukewarm policy before the invasion, and as I have stated the general population at the time did not know we owned the Falkland islands. But once word got out the nation wanted action of some sort, regardless of the politics that led Maggie to send the task force the general population (not the chattering classes who write books and memoirs) were behind her.

As a bit of anecdotal evidence I doubt you would get from a book, the majority of the adult males in family and their friends at the time were staunch Labour supporters who reviled Maggie and hated everything she stood for, but were 100% behind her action over the Falklands. Now a few years later during the miners strike its a completely different story ;-)

McZ
McZ
July 25, 2014 9:48 pm

@”Is the A400M good news for the British Armed Forces and aerospace defence industry.”

Good for the armed Forces, as the lack of transport capacity gets resolved. It offers half the payload and 70% the range for 80-90% the price of a C-17. This makes her a premium solution, some people would call this a waste of funds.

Technically, it’s still too early to call her a success. I think they are making too much from her rough-field capability, which will not be used that often. It’s the only conceived advantage over the C-17, still I wonder how they compare at 40ts payload.

Commercially, the project is an utter disaster for the industry, because exports will only compensate for shrinking european numbers. As it is, they would need another 100 exports only to break even. Wet dreams about China are already gone. For the big audience of Herc-drivers it is simply too costly. They will either buy a next-gen Herc or the KC-390.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 25, 2014 10:16 pm

@SO

“the RN was effectively proving itself being unnecessary for NATO defence, becoming unavailable for NATO for months without WW3 happening.”

That simply illustrates a total lack of understanding of NATO roulement, readiness cycles, tasking and the ability of Allies to cover for each other for short period of times.

P.S

Your Beluga transports look good but carry less weight less distance and cannot land where an A400M can.

As i said yesterday the simple fact is we fully utilise and more our Mil Transport capability and in all probability will continue to do so despite your words of “wisdom” on everything from our Foreign Policy to the way the our Country felt 34 years ago.

S O
S O
July 25, 2014 10:18 pm

@David;
It’s one of those books which are riddled with footnotes and provide sources. And it was but an example – I wrote so.

:
Germany could have insisted on An-7x instead, forging industrial ties in Eastern Europe. But the Western integration policy grand strategy was still overriding, and we agreed on a West European project instead.
German aviation publications kept the memory of the given-up An-7x option awake for years to come.

The C-17 is too expensive itself as well. Airbus modified an airliner design for the Beluga; it could have adapted the wings, undercarriage, cockpit and possibly tail of an airliner for a more universal heavy cargo aircraft, rivalling the An-127 and Il-76 as charter airlifters with the price and service infrastructure of an A310.
Unpaved runways are hardly ever used anyway, and the on-ground manoeuvrability could be achieved by a parasitic towing vehicle (which could be weighed down for traction by having the front wheels of the aircraft ON it instead of merely connected).

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
July 25, 2014 10:25 pm

I was twenty-five in 1982, just starting my career at the Town Hall, as one of very few locals in a section mostly staffed by trendy-lefty southern suburban incomers certain that Michael Foot was about to win the 1983 Election on the basis of the most left-wing manifesto ever offered up by the Labour Party…and that they would be taking over the means of production as Local Commissars the following Monday morning. They practically never socialised outside their own group (they didn’t actually like “The Proleteriat” much as real people as opposed to a Marxist construct). They were also much given to interminable consciousness raising meetings every Friday morning…

Fortunately, as I was local I knew the big night out was Thursday so I could prepare for this horror by getting paralysed with drink amongst the Lads and Lasses who came into Town in their best outfits from the many Council Estates that surrounded it in what was a mass-production heavy-industry City and a fortress of Working-Class values. A favourite spot was a faux-Bavarian Bier Keller where staggering quantities of Lager and huge platters of sausages were consumed, and the really game girls could whip their top off on stage and win a tee-shirt…every evening ended with a sing-song and dancing on the tables…

The week the task-force sailed we covered every verse and every chorus of everything we could think of from God Save the Queen to Jerusalem and the fake rafters rang for two solid hours; buckets were passed and filled for the British Legion, and the riot squad who turned up to close the place down shared a jug of beer, joined in one shattering chorus of Rule Britannia and chucked a ton in the bucket before wishing us a very good night.

At the consciousness-raising meeting the following morning I listened to the mad fantasies of the anti-war left and concluded that they had completely parted company with reality and had not the vaguest clue what the people they aspired to lead actually thought; they were subsequently out of power for another fifteen years, and only got back in by abandoning most of their cherished beliefs and practically all their traditional supporters.

The only place in which there was significant opposition to the Falklands War was their minds, and the books, columns and documentaries they have subsequently produced…and of course tiny factions of mad middle-class trots, the editorial board of the Guardian and some parts of Auntie Beeb. All obviously very popular with the Euro-Left, but with the people of the UK not so much, either then or now…

GNB

Mark
Mark
July 25, 2014 10:27 pm

A couple of the kpps required of an a400m good luck finding a civil equivalent

The A400M fleet must be capable of the deployment of 4200 tonnes of freight over 3200 nm in a 7-day period.

A400M is to be capable of autonomous operations from semi-prepared surfaces with a runway length of 3 500 ft.

A400M is to have a self-contained, non- radiating navigation system. The navigation system’s performance is to be compatible with low-level and aerial delivery operations world-wide.

Mcz your number on cost anyway are way out. The last c17 the uk bought cost 200m pounds and that was only for the aircraft, program cost for the uks 22 a400m was 2.8b pounds from the last nao report I think which puts even that number much less than 90% cost of a c17.

It’s taken longer and cost more that it should to get a400m but that’s in large part thanks to our friendly german friends.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 25, 2014 10:56 pm

SO
‘It’s one of those books which are riddled with footnotes and provide sources’

And I have no doubt every one of those sources is someone in a position of government or power at the time. All factual books are an interpretation of events by the author, they might be 80% right but they are still swayed by their personel views (its only human to do so). A few people on here have questioned that the people in the UK were split over the Falklands, trust me it was there was no Iraq style protests about the Falklands.

I have found two books that I think mirror my time in the Balkans, One is ‘Our Unfinest Hour’ the other ‘My War Gone By, I Miss It So’ both of those books are an interpretation of events by the authors, although there are similarities none of them mirror completely my experience. Is it that my experience was completely individual to me and not faced by any other member of the armed forces (which I doubt as there was always someone stood next to me) or that the authors are drawing their own conclusions, albeit in the first book from an educated and well informed view.

x
x
July 25, 2014 11:05 pm

IXION
July 26, 2014 7:00 am

With all the force of a man whose arguments are supported by Wikipedia (wow Elvis arrived on earth when he crashed his space ship at Roswell).

I LIKE THE A 4000.

But we do seem to have spent a lot of money on replicating the performance of the updated Il 76.

GNB

Absolutely bang on. Nearly got kicked out of FE College for calling one of those ‘history man’ bearded tossers. (A sociology lecturer no less), a wanker to his face.

And yes the only people who did not see the Foot annihilation happening was Foot, his Mrs, and 5 their dog.

Topman
Topman
July 26, 2014 7:14 am

@Mark

When you say ‘autonomous’ in what context, that it requires no GSE during a stop at an airport?

‘The A400M fleet must be capable of the deployment of 4200 tonnes of freight over 3200 nm in a 7-day period.’

What sort of fleet size?

If have any links covering that sort of thing I’d interested to read them.

IXION
July 26, 2014 8:16 am

I posted a post but the spam monster ate it.

Basically way to go Gloomy.

I told a sociology lecturer at my college he was a wanker, over the Falklands. Nearly got kicked out. (The college Deputy head who was supposed to be disciplining me with threats of expulsion (the little hairy weasel ran of to the bosses screaming disrespect of staff), winked at me as I was leaving; and later told me he had been waiting for someone to tell the little lefty shit where to go for years.

Said ‘History man’ tried to get me a week later for wearing a ‘Gay whales against racism’ badge.

BTW I like the a 400 but have we have spent a lot of cash replicating the IL 76?

The Other Chris
July 26, 2014 8:20 am

Autonomy in the A400M context includes that, yes.

The requirement is effectively to load, self deploy, navigate, recover/unload and return using only its own resources in a majority of environments and weather.

Fleet wise you’re looking at 25+ flights per day at 20tonne capacity for 3,200nm which stretches the UK order of 22 plus 3 options. It’s early though and my internal calculator hasn’t had a coffee yet…

Still prefer the original name “Grizzly” mind.

Mark
Mark
July 26, 2014 8:40 am

Topman

Those kpps were for the raf a400m fleet. The autonomy is pretty much as Toc has indicated, there was I think also something about not req maintenance other than that provided by its crew over a period of a couple of days. I can’t find a link a present.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
July 26, 2014 9:01 am

“You might consider it “enlightened” to treat all War short of self-defence as either an avoidable folly or a bit of a joke, but that view is not universal…and might…possibly…be absolutely dead wrong.”

Agreed.

We still, despite all, retain what Lindley-French terms our Missionary Foreign Policy.
And does anyone except the reformed-alcholics and ex-smokers of this world really gainsay the moral worth of this position? Yes, some do, but collectively the balance is favour of activist FP.

Topman
Topman
July 26, 2014 8:14 pm

@ Mark/ToC

Thanks for the info.

Rocco
Rocco
July 26, 2014 9:15 pm

I ma very well be wrong, but I think it’s premature to speculate on what exactly the purchase price of a A400 is for anyone beyond the initial program. We may very well see prices drop.

New Zealand has an air transport review underway. I understand that some years ago C-17 was studied but the expected demand (500 hours/year) wasn’t sufficient to justify the capability. The A400 on the other hand is a very good fit. The position New Zealand finds itself in is having a regular requirement to move tactical size loads strategic distances. UK to Ascension is comparable to NZ – Darwin. The same payload/double range argument is compelling.

Simon257
Simon257
September 1, 2014 8:09 pm