Roll on Roll Off Gunship

Cast your mind back a few months and we discussed the potential for using transport aircraft as gunships, combat ISTAR, electronic warfare and even maritime patrol by  using roll on roll off palletised and pylon mounted equipment.

A couple of months before I looked at Orbital ATK and their work with Jordan on the C235/295 gunship development that made use of palletised automatic cannons.

Now it seems Oto Melara have joined the list of suppliers of palletised systems.

Oto Melara gunship

After initial flight trials they are planning final qualification for the Italian Air Force.

Instead of a 30mm Bushmaster the Oto Melara system uses a 20mm M61A1 Vulcan multi-barrel cannon coupled to a modified Selex Janus electro optical and infra red sensor pod. It is mounted on a 463L pallet making it adaptable for many transport aircraft. The retractable rail system allows it to be deployed only when in targeting mode. When loaded with 750 rounds it weighs less than 1.6 tonnes and has a battery for autonomous operation independent of the aircraft’s power system. The whole system is completely self-contained on the pallet

The whole system is completely self-contained on the pallet, even the gunners chair.

Oto Melara developed the system after receiving €2m development funding from the Italian MoD, no €2m  is not a printing error!

Six are expected to come into service in 2016.

Jane’s has a good article on the system, here.

The bit that I found most interesting though was not the weapon system but this;

As well, it noted that a separate Italian company was developing a second palletised command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4ISR) system that would add datalink capabilities to the Gunship system and function and allow a transport aircraft to function as both a gunship and an airborne command post for ground operations.

A European Harvest Hawk perhaps, not as mad as many people claim.

Interesting, no?

150 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
From Luddite Lodge
From Luddite Lodge
May 17, 2015 9:11 pm

We only buy from BAE or America at vastly inflated prices.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
May 17, 2015 9:17 pm

But how much does the hole in the side of the plane cost?

The Other Chris
May 17, 2015 9:22 pm

V-22…

Edit: Do Merlins/Chinooks fit pallets?

secundius
May 18, 2015 2:16 am

@ The Other Chris.

Yes too Both. The 463L Mil-Spec. Pallet Measures 2,235.2mm (88″) x 2,743.2mm (108″) and Weigh ~135.624-kg. (299-lbs.) without Tie-Down netting and ~161.025-kg. (355-lbs.) with Tie-Down netting…

secundius
May 18, 2015 3:00 am

750-rounds of ammunition, seem like “Light Load” for Cargo Plane/Gun Ship. 5,000-round, should be the “Norm” An F-16 standard Gun Load of ammunition is 750-rounds…

Matt W
Matt W
May 18, 2015 3:13 am

If it can be simply “slotted in”, then this could get a lot of interest from militaries with low budgets

And not just Air Forces , I suspect

Could these be fitted onto anything else? Merchant ships or large trucks, for instance

Ronald W. McVan
Ronald W. McVan
May 18, 2015 4:48 am

For a given effect, what would be the lowest ammo cost? Choices are 14.5mm, 20mm, 25mm, 30x113mm, 40x53mm grenade or a GD/BAE roll controlled 81mm mortar?

monkey
monkey
May 18, 2015 8:12 am

The 20mm Vulcan would be a big step up for the 7.62 gatlin mounted in the belly door for the V22 giving an extra dimension to the use of the Osprey as a gunship after the initial insertion role. Shows what you can do with only €2m development money in the right hands. Could the Kongsberg turret we use be fitted on the same mounting I wonder? Or even the 40mm CTA?

Obsvr
Obsvr
May 18, 2015 8:36 am

Ah, takes me back several decades, USAF had C-130 gunships with miniguns. Jolly useful they were too, particularly if you had some VC in open padi. Night ambushes in padi are of course the preserve of competent armies.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 18, 2015 9:22 am

defencenews reported this a good year ago:

“The Air Force is studying the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air as part of its search for a light aircraft to deliver a “development of force,” the source said.

Meanwhile, France’s special operations forces are looking to add various capabilities to their 14 Lockheed Martin C-130s, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), gunship and low-level air-drop, the source said.

Robbin Laird of the ICA consulting firm, based here and in Washington, said interest in the C-130 packages reflects the growing relationship between US Marines and French and Spanish special operations forces.”

Though it would first seem that they want to do ISR with both platforms, there is a later mention that the smaller one would be mainly for post-troop insertation uses (ISR & a command post)

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
May 18, 2015 9:43 am

Matt W said: “Could these be fitted onto anything else? Merchant ships or large trucks, for instance”

A Foxhound Utility Technical!

I wonder if they could do one with a rocket pod.

Observer
Observer
May 18, 2015 11:11 am

While a cargo gunship is an interesting concept, how practical is it? I don’t mean how technically practical, the US demonstrated with their AC-130 that it works quite well, but unless you are the US with planes overflowing out of your airfields, every transport craft is extremely precious in their original role, as a supply lifeline to the troops. Is it practical for you to take a cargo plane from the limited number already in service and use it as an ad hoc Apache, especially since you already got AH-64s for the job?

The US could do it, they have an excess of aircraft. I don’t think many others in the world can. The US isn’t a good role model for other countries. They have advantages others don’t.

The Ginge
The Ginge
May 18, 2015 1:23 pm

Just goes to show that taking the 12 C130’s that the RAF want to retire, having a mid life refit, then being used for various uses by the pallet load. The loiture time and cost per hour for example is a lot cheaper than an AH64, then to use as C4 or Special Ops insertion aircraft, or even an MPA as discussed before.
These are airframes bought and paid for plus there replacement is in service, so why throw them away is beyond me, heck even stick that lot in £5m a pop BAe146’s if the C130’s are just so knackered. But when it shows you don’t need a £150m stealth jet to provide ground support I suppose some Air Marshalls are going to look a little silly.
Part of my campaign of use/re-use what you’ve got rather than selling it off for someone else to use for the next 30yrs quite happily.
Same for a QE Class Aircraft Carrier with 12 F35b’s on board to do the hard stuff and then 24/36 Harrier II to do the mud pounding. Once you’ve spent £6bn seems silly not to fill it up, and if we hadn’t sold them to the yanks we might actualy have a usable airwing on the QE/PoW.
But interchangable pallets is the way to go, some missiles on the hard points of a C130 and all of a sudden your SF op has some muscle, since most of our recent ops have been in low grade antui air enviroments.
Heck if the RAF don’t want them then give them to the Army Air Corps.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 18, 2015 2:08 pm

Luckily we bought ours with the wide cargo side door… so we can put two of those side by side.

There is an unsolicited bid on the go for upgrading France’s Special Forces Hercs (I guess they found out in Mali that those buggers can shoot back e.g. with MANPADs):

“”Sagem is preparing to offer an armed upgrade package for the French Air Force’s Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, company officials told IHS Jane’s .

The upgrade would include arming the Hercules with the SSA-1101 Gerfaut system, allowing the C-130 to carry and deploy as many as eight Sagem AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire) precision guided munitions (PGMs). The SSA-1101 Gerfaut has been under development since 2012 by Sagem, Rafaut, and AA/ROK.

“We can guarantee a range of 30 km for an AASM dropped at 25,000 ft and 190 kt,” a Sagem official told IHS Jane’s” so not a secret, but rather an advertorial in Jane’s.

barbarossa
barbarossa
May 18, 2015 2:18 pm

I could see the advantages of keeping the Herc’s to do stuff like this- doesn’t impinge on the air transport fleet. Mind you in a perfect world we would, of course, buy extra Atlas airframes (common fleet savings etc, etc)
You couldn’t do it on 146’s though, without chopping big holes in the structure- no arse flap, and outward opening doors, which can’t be opened in flight.

I have always liked the whole gunship motif, though……

secundius
May 18, 2015 2:42 pm
Reply to  monkey

@ monkey.

If your going to place a M61 Vulcan 20x102mm Autocannon on an Osprey. It’s probably going to be Static Mounted. If your going fro Flexibility, I’d go for the M197 3-barrel 20x102mm version on an undercarriage Turret Mounting…

shark bait
shark bait
May 18, 2015 4:25 pm

Palletised MPA variant too. Possible to combine both versions?

monkey
monkey
May 18, 2015 6:19 pm
Reply to  secundius


When I heard of the existing 7.62 gatlin in the belly mount of the Osprey I thought it to light to be of any use against anything but infantry and soft skinned vehicles , and a bigger cannon capable of at least distracting light armour or infantry behind heavy cover would be better too. The USMC seem to think the same after using it in the sandboxes too.

Mark
Mark
May 18, 2015 6:33 pm

The ginge

You would need to define mid life update for the RAF s current c130s. Number of hours on the airframe much more important than number of years in service. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if when all said and done they’d need rewinged, new rudder and elevator and fuselage panel replacements. As for the bae 146 that’s a pressurised aircraft who’s doors don’t normally open in flight start your cash register.

Rolling off and on a gun or indeed mission consoles or seat is reasonably straight fwd, it when you start to get to more specialist sensors be they US Hercules variants or Airbus cn 295 variants those aircraft tend to have sensors permainanly mounted in position.

secundius
May 18, 2015 7:38 pm
Reply to  monkey

@ monkey.

The original Ordnance Package Load Out for the MV-22B Osprey, was: (1) GAU-19B 3-barrel 12.7x99mm Turreted HMG under the Nose, (1) GAU-21 M3M “War Thunder” 12.7x99mm HMG on the Stern Ramp and (2) GAU-2/A M134 6-barrel 7.62x51mm/NATO “Miniguns” Side-door Mounted. Then it became as weight issue, and everything went too S@#t…

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 18, 2015 7:46 pm

Side guns on a tiltrotor? Sounds…. risky.

secundius
May 19, 2015 3:25 am

@ mr.fred.

The Minigun’s were only meant to be used in the Landing Configuration a protection to the Aircraft during Loading/Unloading. When the Osprey was most Vulnerable too Attacks…

Observer
Observer
May 19, 2015 3:42 am
Reply to  secundius

Don’t get the fascination with miniguns. Sure, a high ROF weapon makes sense if you’re in an aircraft doing a strafing run, but as a suppression weapon? I can’t help but wonder if you’ll run out of ammo very fast. We use a CIS 50 (12.7/o.5 cal) for a door gun. Wonder how the 2 systems compare?

secundius
May 19, 2015 3:58 am
Reply to  Observer

@ Observer.

The GAU-21 M3M “War Thunder” has a cyclic rate-of-fire of 850rpm to 1,100rpm compared to the M2 “Ma Deuce” 450rpm. The 21st Century version of War Thunder, is mostly Titanium, compared to it’s WW2 counterpart of Aluminum…

secundius
May 19, 2015 4:34 am
Reply to  Engineer Tom

@ Engineer Tom.

Probably as much as the Basic Pay of the Specialist assigned to cut the hole…

secundius
May 19, 2015 4:41 am
Reply to  Matt W

@ Matt W.

The only limitation your going to face, is the Imagination of the Person mounting the system. There’s and American aphorism that goes: “If your not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough”…

secundius
May 19, 2015 4:56 am
Reply to  monkey

@ monkey.

I’d go with a 30mm Bushmaster II first, and then go from there. It really depends on the amount of “torque” applied to the airframe of the “host aircraft”…

secundius
May 19, 2015 5:00 am
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

@ ArmChairCivvy.

Also depends on the French! Half-the-Time, I don’t know weather, there WITH US or AGAINST US…

secundius
May 19, 2015 5:06 am

@ A Different Garth.

A Rocket Pod, is pretty Simplistic. It’s a Line-of-Sight, Indirect Fire Support System. You Aim and Shoot and hope for the Best. It doesn’t get anymore Simplistic than that…

secundius
May 19, 2015 5:11 am
Reply to  Observer

@ Observer.

The AC-47’s during the Vietnam War, consisted of three-7.62x51mmNATO Miniguns and a “greese pencil” etched gun sight on the Pilots Side Window…

secundius
May 19, 2015 5:20 am
Reply to  barbarossa

@ barbarossa.

On a 146, an Emergency Exit Hatch should work nicely, or just a matter of removing a few passenger windows/viewports…

secundius
May 19, 2015 5:23 am
Reply to  shark bait

@ shark bait.

If it will fit, Commercial/Civilian Air Pallets are Larger then their Military Counterparts…

secundius
May 19, 2015 5:27 am
Reply to  Mark

@ Mark.

The Jordian Air Force, already has CN-295 Gunship’s…

barbarossa
barbarossa
May 19, 2015 7:05 am
Reply to  secundius

The only issue is there’s only two emergency exits- Not exactly the festooning with guns I was hoping for.
Equally, the windows are part of the structure, as in all pressurised airframes. So there would still be a bit of chopping about. Not undoable though. And the advantage of pressurisation, means that the aeroplane could loiter at high altitude, thereby keeping the endurance up.

….There’s plenty of 146’s about, and it’s a tough little airframe, with excellent STOL performance.

secundius
May 19, 2015 7:37 am
Reply to  barbarossa

@ barbarossa.

The biggest concern I have with the 146’s is, drag. The plane wasn’t exactly designed to fly with her “window’s rolled down”, so too speak. That not to say she can’t fly unpressurized. You could employ a gun cover, to minimize the amount of air going into the fuselage. But that also limit’s the flexibility of the Gun System being employed. Or, you could just go with a Standard Cargo Carrier variant of the 146’s airframe. And make Specified Desired Modifications of intended Mission Profile…

Brian Black
Brian Black
May 19, 2015 8:20 am

This Italian kit is not for a gunship as such; it’s a particular requirement for their special forces role C27. It’s no different to putting a door gun on a transport helicopter, hence the light ammo load.

The Jordanian aircraft on the other hand are essentially an Apache weapons package on a C235. Carrying those weapons is its whole reason for existence.

Chuck
Chuck
May 19, 2015 8:38 am

@Observer: Apart from the advantages you already mentioned, Gatling’s are very accurate contrary to popular perception. By far the most accurate fully automatic in the world. The barrels act as a giant gyroscope meaning almost no recoil or barrel rise and extreme ease of control even on the longest burst(you can do it one handed). This combined with the bright trace from the high ROF meaning you can walk it on quickly and keep it there without ever letting off the trigger if necessary, is a fierce combination. A Gatling doesn’t just put more rounds on target but more per shot/belt. 9 times more if you believe Dillon Aero and no-one’s called them on it yet.

ROF is user customisable, normally 2/3 preset/instantly available to the gunner and we both know it’s training and fire discipline that’s going to effect real world ammo usage. A moron will empty a 400rpm M2 before a smart man is halfway through the belt on even the fastest Gatling.

Honestly Gatling’s trump everything in every metric bar weight, reload speed and ease of employment. Due to the fact they need power and ideally one long belt not lots of short ones. So useless for infantry obviously but on vehicles, they’re great, that’s what they were designed for.

Back to the OP: I’ve always thought what you’d want to pursue for getting the most AC-130 without the price would be it’s 105mm not the 40mm or Gatling. Stay above the manpads while delivering reasonably large accurate explosions at very low cost per(the 80% solution to hellfire). Most difficult initial integration and low profit thereafter means it’s probably not going to happen. Especially not on the C295. I think you’re going to need a bigger pallet.

On the Hercules fleet getting a similar treatment. Genius. Especially with the enemies we face today. A more multirole pallet system to turn it into truly multi role utility aircraft, MPA/ISR/Gunship/Missileship/SAR/all the stuff it can already do and continue to as a backup to A400. Double genius. Especially with all the gaps we face today, how cheaply pallet’s full of gadgets can be bought and for once we have the exactly the right plane for it bought and paid for. Almost every palletised do-dad ever made will get a C130 version and we can even get in on that market ourselves. Yeah the airframes are a bit shagged but unshagging airplanes is a well practised art and it’s not like you’d have trouble finding the parts.

Chance of anything so sensible happening when all the services are scrambling to keep what they have. Zero.

Barbarossa
Barbarossa
May 19, 2015 9:12 am
Reply to  secundius

Thinking about it, the Nimrod was pressurised, and it had opening hatches….and the OTO Melara is retractable… OK a few airframe mods, but….

The advantages of the 146/RJ series are legion-
The undercarriage is designed for rough field use, including the option off a gravel kit;
It uses airbrakes, deployable in flight rather than reverse thrust;
It’s designed with simplicity and ease of maintenance;
Four engines; and
It’s a very good STOL aircraft.

The -200/RJ85 has a payload of 8.5t, you might to have to drop that by a tonne for any cargo variant (re-inforced floor and cargo door).
My only issue is the range- 1200miles… But with it only needing 3000ft, and rough field ability you can keep it at an austere airstrip and call it forward.

…The RAF could re-introduce the WOP/AG, or even just the AG, brevet….

Barbarossa
Barbarossa
May 19, 2015 9:23 am

Chuck has a point about unshagging aeroplanes, Marshall Aerospace have been doing it for years…

….The Idea of fitting the Herc fleet up as a sort of SF/ special duties/ back up air transport… Seems pretty good to me…..Cheaper than buying extra A400’s.
You could deploy the hereford hooligans and then air support them, with the same wagon: what’s not to like?

The Other Chris
May 19, 2015 9:28 am

Tempted to pop this in Open Thread however we’re discussing RoRo kit here.

This news is not quite an SC-130J Sea Herc, but it’s interesting nonetheless due to the combination of C-130, palletised RoRo kit and hard-mounting being involved:

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/lockheed-eyes-c-130-maritime-opportunities-in-south-east-412493/

In recent months I’ve swung away in opinion from the UK ditching a C-130 fleet. As well run as the RAF procurement and operation of C-17 has been, there’s a niggling feeling that selling on that fleet, increasing A400M purchase and retaining a C-130 fleet instead could suit the UK more going forward.

The Other Chris
May 19, 2015 9:48 am

Interesting. A larger pool could definitely be the enabler for it.

Would also fit in with the whole increased/pooled Euro/NATO assets push most partner nations are agreeable to at the moment and Kiev could certainly do with the business.

TAS
TAS
May 19, 2015 9:55 am

Ugh, more fantasy b***ocks. Really? Downgrading our air force to the level of a third world backwater doesn’t achieve anything other than satisfy boyish fantasies of aeroplanes with guns and ‘dakka dakka boom’ noises. Completely f***ing irrelevant. We are not supposed to be fighting other people’s wars for them. Everybody else in the world has flying Skodas with dumb bombs and rockets; why do we need to add more?

The only use for retaining a Herc fleet is to generate a UK-equivalent COMPASS CALL/COMMANDO SOLO platform full of EW, radio and other electronic attack gear that actually undermines the enemy will to fight, deceives him, blinds him, and disrupts his C2. Make it powerful enough and you can do standoff jamming outside the immediate threat zone. THAT is a specialist and highly effective niche capability that few other nations have – and THAT will add value, not some half-assed attempt to knock up a gunship.

Any why on earth would anyone get rid of C17? It’s the most useful plane in the RAF inventory. It is being worked bloody hard and does what C130 and A400M cannot do.

The Other Chris
May 19, 2015 10:09 am

Never said anything about gunships TAS ;)

It’s all about the about the specialist niches that add value.

Because I do not know, as opposed to being a facetious question, when was the last time we shipped a C2 via C-17?

TAS
TAS
May 19, 2015 10:13 am

Commenting on more than just your eloquent posts, ToC. It’s not all about you, you know? Smiley face, whatever… C2 – Command and Control. Maybe I should have said C4I, much clearer…

secundius
May 19, 2015 10:22 am
Reply to  Barbarossa

@ Barbarossa.

I thing the Oto Melara would make a great gun system, but not in either Rapid 85rpm or Super-Rapid 120rpm. At those speeds , it would “Tear the Plane Apart”. Semi-Automatic would be much Safer and Controllable. And using the “Volcano” round far more Deadly. The 146 is a great plane, but realistically it’s not built to C-130 standards…

The Other Chris
May 19, 2015 10:33 am

@TAS

Plus 1 from me.

C2 question was about the MBT, my fault for mixing contexts, apologies. I genuinely did not know if we had shipped one or not. Question sparked by your comment that C-17 does what A400M doesn’t do. TD expanded on the concern that it may perform these tasks, but we’re not leveraging it.

Appreciate, note and respect your C2/C4I degredation comment in the Command & Control sense. Elements such as COMPASS CALL/COMMANDO SOLO are amongst the reasons my opinions are swinging. Add to that items such as the HARVEST HAWK developments – and not the obvious derringer door gunship gumpf, talking along the lines of MCALS delivery of decoys – intermingled with such items as some swing-role assistance for EEZ SAR (ARTAMIS) and retaining a fleet starts to justify itself.

Just a shame CHAMP (understandably) selected JASSM-ER rather than MALD-J/V as the initial vehicle.

secundius
May 19, 2015 10:36 am
Reply to  Think Defence

@ Think Defence, Moderator.

Isn’t the Antonov An-124 manufactured in the Ukraine Republic. I’m fairly curtain the Ukraine’s could use the Influx of Currency…

secundius
May 19, 2015 10:41 am
Reply to  TAS

@ TAS.

If I had to Hazard a Guess, it’s POLITICAL decision, and not a PRACTICAL one…

TAS
TAS
May 19, 2015 10:47 am

Sorry, so chartering is an option? Okay, so at the first intimation of a crisis, when everybody in the developed world starts looking for chartered aircraft to fly in aid, etc, we are relying on what – previous good customer behaviour? “Yes I know you’ve been such good customers in the past, but India just got there first, sorry.” Civilian agencies are not always willing to fly into a war zone. Plus, a grey tail with RAF written on it is a statement – news agencies do not check the hiring agreement when trying to work out who has just delivered stuff to an apron. A400M can lift a lot but not as much as the C17 nor as far, plus it isn’t here yet and remains relatively unproven, so for heavy loads we have a national capability. How we use it in the interim is almost irrelevant; yes we could have splashed out yet more mythical cash on hiring civvy aircraft to move stuff, but this is back to the same old argument that everybody blatantly ignores or doesn’t like because it gets you fewer toys – high end warfighting capabilities maintained at readiness. High end warfighting is just as much about moving shedloads of hardware quickly as it is about Typhoon, Astute and, erm, pongoes with shooty sticks (I nearly said FRES…oops!).

monkey
monkey
May 19, 2015 11:11 am

On the ‘grey tails’ flying in too HADR needing areas to get publicity when a cheaper aircraft could shift the same cargo from much closer ( why fly bags of rice from Brize 10,000km when its available 500km away ?) just to get media brownie points . Spend the hard won money efficiently and directly out of the DFiD budget . Granted if only airdrop or rough strips are available then fair enough but otherwise use commercial. If there’s none available as its all hired that by inference means enough is arriving anyway , doesn’t it? It does bug me I am afraid that there is rarely a government sponsored spokeman who doesn’t get in just how useful a 65,000t carrier will be in a HADR situation , maybe it would but its a warship not a vessel of mercy , build those specialist vessels and buy kit from the DFiD budget directly FFS.

Chris
Editor
Chris
May 19, 2015 11:25 am

TAS – I see two options in any land domain strategy for future equipment; either assure the transport means is available for whatever weight/size equipment we buy, or make the weight/size of our equipment fit the transport means we have. Like in the US these two have become separated (hence the US giving serious consideration to GCV when its weight was running up towards 90t). In the UK the decision was made to drop C-130 limits before A-400M was in service and proven, leaving the RAF just C-17 as a guaranteed air bridge for the future combat armour. A-400M looks a certainty now (even with the Spanish accident last week) but that can’t lift Challenger/Titan/Trojan/CRARRV, nor even Scout-SV when combat ready. C-17 will remain the only RAF aircraft that can deliver tracked combat armour.

Personally I think there is value in a set of combat armour (wheels or tracks I don’t care) that can use A-400M and even C-130 while still largely combat ready – perhaps just antennas and RPG screens to deploy on landing. Something to get to theatre fast and slow an opponent’s advance while the heavyweights trundle in on ships or trains. Something fast and mobile to sow confusion and uncertainty in the mind of the enemy. Something to restore the concept of tempo to the doctrine.

The alternative is to be content to have only medium & heavy combat vehicles, in which case we really need bigger transport aircraft that can deal with the heavier cargo.

Or we abandon the idea of rapid reaction and attend conflicts at our own modest pace trusting that the opposition politely wait for us before making their advance.

TAS
TAS
May 19, 2015 11:26 am

Monkey, sorry shipmate but you severely underestimate the significance of getting UK branded assets into the public eye quickly. It has nothing to do with how much cargo you move or how many tents you deploy. It is all about influence and engagement – and if you think otherwise, sorry, go and speak to someone who works for the FCO or DfID who will tell you otherwise. The second and subsequent plane into the area can be a charter if you like, but the cameras will be there for the first one and it has to make the statement. UK contribution will be tiny anyway – so why try and move another 0.5% of the total aid effort when you can get 25% or more of the media coverage and send a message to your key audiences?

TD – on the ‘eye-watering expense’, have we a handy comparison of charter costs vs. C17 own/operate cost? It’s all expensive – the point is about maintaining the capability and balancing it against demand. Come on, we’ve been here before. I’m sure your average Antonov charter costs in the millions – scale that up against the task loading placed on the C17 fleet and you quickly shoot down the ‘go commercial’ argument.

Shackvan
Shackvan
May 19, 2015 11:56 am
Reply to  Chris

Unfortunately despite Challenger being under the overall weight limit (at least last time it was trailed, I know it’s gained a few pounds since then) C-17 cannot move one as the loading process over stresses certain parts of the airframe, and I can only assume the same for other C2 derivatives, hence why they ride into theatre on Antanov’s when we need to move one by air.

Chris
Editor
Chris
May 19, 2015 12:11 pm

Shackvan – I didn’t know that but it is a – um – feature? of tracked vehicles that in cresting a ridge such as the top of a loading ramp the majority of the vehicle weight bears down on the ridge. Obviously in wheeled vehicles the floor loading goes where the wheels make contact with the floor; some multi-axle configurations also concentrate loads close to ridges – a 6×6 with an axle dead centre for example might well get close to balancing on a ridge if its steep enough. Tracked vehicles tend to have a longer wheelbase and more restricted suspension movement, both of which increase the chance of piling load onto the aircraft’s ramp/floor junction.

TAS
TAS
May 19, 2015 1:29 pm

TD, absolutely. And fertile ground for lots of assumptions, most of which have little basis in either reality or most parallel universes where people live in ISO containers.

The Other Chris
May 19, 2015 1:41 pm

Deep breaths TD, I know that kind of container porn leaves you a bit light headed.

secundius
May 19, 2015 2:19 pm
Reply to  Chris

@ Chris.

Unfortunately the American GCV Program was cancelled, 24 February 2014…

secundius
May 19, 2015 2:43 pm
Reply to  TAS

@ TAS.

Well as a SLIDER you just slide into one. They ARE making IOS (TEU/FEU) Container Homes…

The Ginge
The Ginge
May 19, 2015 2:51 pm

Just reading the comments since my earlier post. From my perspective it really was a case of looking at yet another niche palleted system that could be used on existing aircraft we own, thus cutting the cost of MPA, close Air Support, Special Forces Insertion etc etc. IE a truly multi role aircraft, even when flying over Libya dropping guided bombs to cut the enourmous cost of flying Tornado/Typhoon/F35B’s (in the future) from Italy on any other similar operation. Not attacking heavily defended hard targets in Sam invested waters.
The Second Part of the post regarding the BAe146 was the fact that there are other cheaper planes out there be they in RAF use or Second hand BAe146’s or C130’s that could be picked up, wrapped in the already existing Service/Supply Chain in place to provide cheap air frames. Any other suggestions ?
Thirdly agree that UK RAF Aircraft turning up looks and buys more influance than a chartered Cargo Hauler from XTZ Airlines, if the Dfid Budget is recharged the cost as in the example of Nepal the cost of one C17 and 4 Chinooks sitting on the tarmac in India. (Plus all the associated staffing costs). The problem I see is the Armed Forces in General (ie HMS Bulwark in the Med now) get asked to do other Dfid/FOC work without any of the captial cost being paid for by those departments. Once the capacity has gone because of cuts Dfid/FOC and the PM will not have the luxuary of picking the phone up to the RAF/RN/Army and saying can you pop over to X and help out.
Finally I would not look at cutting C17 or A400 numbers for this I would look at the billions about to be spent on buying 6 to 10 P8’s to do one role (MPA, which at a later date may be expanded at yet more cost as UK aircraft have to be remanufactered to excpet new Sensors), plus the SF budget which is being designated in supplying them with another option other than the A400, plus Sentinal Replacement/Operating Cost. Wrap those budgets up in to one multi role airframe which we already own 12 examples of and you are looking at some tasty savings.
With the Chancellors axe looming large post May 7th I think we need to be maximising what we have, I appreciate all the comments above regarding the absolute suitability but the chances of getting a new Awacs Plane, A Sentinal Replacement, A C130 Replacement for SF, an MPA P8 are pretty slim, so start thinking of ways of rolling jobs in to one airframe or look to cut capability. The choice is yours and the Otto Melara solution shows what can be done with a small team, a few good ideas and a bit of get out there and just do it attitiude. So could we have C130 or BAe 146 doing those roles ? Is their another Airframe out their that could do the lot, but somehow somewhere you’ve got to save money or start walking to places.

secundius
May 19, 2015 3:01 pm

There’s no accurate number of IOS (TEV/FEV) Container’s World Wide. But, suffice to say it’s a S@#TLOAD. Put them to use, or get prepared to be Buried by them…

monkey
monkey
May 19, 2015 3:27 pm

@Tas
I do understand ,it just grates that the skew of our spending on such HADR response is more to gain political capital than to save lives. Could the same effect be generated by a fleet of UK Aid livered planes , brilliant white with 20′ high letters in bright red along the sides have the same effect whilst coming directly from the Dfid budget , they do have £12,000,000,000 to play with PER year or would that eat into their £1000 per day consultancy fees you mentioned in an earlier post ;-) That would never do would it, jobs for the boys and all neatly lined up till retirement at UK taxpayers expense … Oh and the needy’s lives but what the hey …..

TAS
TAS
May 19, 2015 3:38 pm

“Finally I would not look at cutting C17 or A400 numbers for this I would look at the billions about to be spent on buying 6 to 10 P8’s to do one role (MPA, which at a later date may be expanded at yet more cost as UK aircraft have to be remanufactered to excpet new Sensors)”

One role? Seriously? If an MPA is single role I’d be fascinated to find out what constitutes multi-role.

Observer
Observer
May 19, 2015 6:55 pm
Reply to  Chuck

Thanks Chuck, that bears thinking about. How is the ammo usage if both guns (M2 and M134) had intelligent people behind them, not spray and pray terrorist wannabes?

I suspect the real reason we used the CIS50 was because they were simply available.

Observer
Observer
May 19, 2015 6:59 pm
Reply to  TAS

TAS, before you can even convert any transport bird to an EW platform, Transport Command would already be crying. Every transport craft is precious, there are too few birds for too many jobs already. No country is like the US where they have so many excess planes they can toss a few out for other roles, the rest of us barely have enough to meet necessary taskings.

Mark
Mark
May 19, 2015 10:07 pm

Ginge

You can loiter a c130 over somewhere like Afghanistan dropping guided weapons wouldn’t of thought you have had many volunteers for doing that over Libya. Who says the SF will give to use something other than a a400m they maybe told no after all the SF chinooks worked out well. The c130 replacement is the a400m in UK service.

Sentinel doesn’t actually need replaced it maybe scrapped to save money but it’s perfectly capable and an unique UK assets much in demand.

What did the otto gun pallet show? They put there product on an existing aircraft certified to have a role as gunship by placing a gun out a door. I think the Americans may have started doing that with the Dakota. On Unpressurised slow cargo planes this is a relatively straight fwd option it’s not when you come to something like a .bae146. Note the flight global article Toc posted when Lockheed are talking about hard attaching sensors before getting carried away with pallets.

Tas is correct mpa are very expensive but they are multi role.

Secundius no idea what your point was regarding cn295 already being a gunship.

Observer
Observer
May 20, 2015 12:39 am

Just had a thought. Wasn’t the main reason why aircraft these days have round/oval windows because square holes give the worst metal fatigue in pressurization/depressurization situations? IIRC some old planes even crashed when their window frames blew out. Now extrapolate that into square holes cut into plane hulls.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
May 20, 2015 3:05 am
Reply to  Observer

@Observer
That was the original Comet. It had square windows, which concentrated the stress at the corners of the windows. Coupled with metal fatigue, it was a fatal combination and resulted in the loss of 3 aircraft only a year or so after they entered service in 1952. They were radically redesigned with oval windows and structural reinforcement and some flew on until 1997 or thereabouts. I flew in them a few times in the 60s and once in the mid-70’s from Cairo to London when our aircraft (probably a Boeing of some sort) developed a fault on the earlier leg from Riyadh (I think, might have been Baghdad). It wasn’t until that last flight that I realised just how bl**dy noisy they were, particularly if you were sat behind the engines!

secundius
May 20, 2015 3:17 pm
Reply to  Observer

@ Observer.

I think it’s more to do with weight. A fully loaded CIS50 (12.7x99mm) weighs 66.14-pounds vs. the M2’s (12.7x99mm) 127.87-pounds, 51.73% of the M2’s weight…

Observer
Observer
May 20, 2015 5:27 pm
Reply to  secundius

I thought we were comparing the M-134 vs the CIS 50? We have the M-134 on naval vessels, but we don’t use M2s.

secundius
May 20, 2015 6:07 pm
Reply to  Observer

@ Observer.

AN/M2’s Single and Twin mountings are used on US Naval Destroyers, LCS’s Cruiser’s, Gator-Freighter’s, Mk. VI Boat’s, etc. Dillon M134 Minigun’s on 11-meter RIB Boats…

Observer
Observer
May 20, 2015 6:42 pm
Reply to  secundius

No secundius, I meant that I suspect we used CIS 50s as door guns because they were more commonly available instead of the M-134s, not if the US uses them (M2 and M134s). I know you use them. My question is on the point where if the M-134 is a superior system, why not use it? My guess is probably due to the supply of weapons. They got a lot more CIS 50s than M-134s.

monkey
monkey
May 20, 2015 7:20 pm

@Observer and ACP
Not forgetting the last two Comet’s built where the prototype airframes for the Nimrod series , not bad career for an aircraft that flew first in 1948 . The American passenger jet designers pretty much all admitted if the Comet hadn’t been first the structural issues would of been repeated on their early designs too , being first isn’t always best :-(

secundius
May 20, 2015 8:23 pm
Reply to  monkey

@ monkey.

The problem with the COMET, was the View Ports/Cabin Windows. They were TOO BIG, they were more suited for a plane flying a 1/3 the speed 150mph vs. 450mph. The stresses imparted to the fuselage to stretch and contract between the Low-High-Low Flights, cause Micro-Fractures to from. Eventually Ripping the Plane Apart At the Seam (no pun intended)…

secundius
May 20, 2015 8:31 pm
Reply to  Observer

@ Observer.

The CIS50’s are better suited from Longer-Ranged Threats, while the M134 Minigun’s. Are a Melee Weapon of Choice. Nobody is going the F@#k-Around a gun system firing 4,500-rpm. An Anti-Boarding Party/Suppression Weapon. Think of it as a 21st century version of a 18th century Volley Gun or Canister Shot Round…

Mark
Mark
May 20, 2015 8:50 pm

It wasn’t that the comets windows were too big ( 787 and a number of the large biz jets have windows of similar size today) it was that the corner rads of the windows were too small which created a stress concentration this was further exacerbated by placing c’sk rivets too close to the window cutouts. The final bit of bad luck was not having appropriate crack stoppers between window frames, hoop stress causing out of plane bending just opened the cracks to a cascading failure. Fatigue crack grow was simply not really understood back then. Comet doomed British commercial aviation but made the UK air accident investigation branch a world leading organisation.

Chuck
Chuck
May 20, 2015 9:30 pm

@observer: I freely admit to knowing little about the CIS beyond skimming it’s wiki but I’d guess it’s the same decision every other country faces. .50 or 7.62 Gatling. You can get .50 Gatling of course but put 2 of them in your bird along with ammo feeds and plumbing and you’ve really cut down on usable payload.

Not to mention being locally produced is always a leg up in such things.

Chuck
Chuck
May 20, 2015 9:38 pm

@secundus: Just not right, you’re confusing calibre performance for gun performance. It’s not a 21st century canister shot it’s a 21st vehicle optimised (H)MG, honestly that comparison better suits the less accurate but more powerful CIS.

You’re right about .50 out performing M134 at range but that’s because .50 beats 7.62 at range. A .50 Gatling would be the clear winner in terminal performance, were it a case of comparing like to like.