UK AH-64E Apache Guardian

The UK has requested that Boeing upgrade 50 of it's Westland AH-64D Attack Helicopters to the AH-64E Guardian configuration costing $3 Billion sale
Apache Helicopter Operations on HMS Ark Royal
Apache Helicopter Operations on HMS Ark Royal

Decisions made, West Country lobbyists rebuffed and requests sent;

WASHINGTON, Aug 27, 2015 – The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for AH-64E APACHE GUARDIAN Attack Helicopters and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $3.00 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on August 26, 2015.

The Government of the United Kingdom has requested the remanufacture of fifty (50) United Kingdom (UK) WAH-64 Mk 1 Attack Helicopters to AH-64E Apache Guardian Helicopters with one hundred and ten (110) T-700-GE-701D Engines (100 installed and 10 spares), the refurbishment of fifty-three (53) AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sights (M-TADS) (50 installed and 3 spares), the refurbishment of fifty-three (53) AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors (PNVS) (50 installed and 3 spares), the refurbishment of fifty-two (52) AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (FCR) (50 installed and 2 spares) with fifty-five (55) Radar Electronics Units (Longbow Component) (50 installed and 5 spares), fifty-two (52) AN/APR-48B Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometers (50 installed and 2 spares), sixty (60) AAR-57(V) 3/5 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) with 5th Sensor and Improved Countermeasure Dispenser (50 installed and 10 spares), one hundred and twenty (120) Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with Inertial Navigation (100 installed and 20 spares), and three hundred (300) Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets.

Also included are AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets, AN/APR-39D(V)2 Radar Signal Detecting Sets, Integrated Helmet and Display Sight Systems (IHDSS-21), Manned-Unmanned Teaming International (MUMT-I), KOR-24A Link 16 terminals, M206 infrared countermeasure flares, M211 and M212 Advanced Infrared Countermeasure Munitions (AIRCMM) flares, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders, ammunition, communication equipment, tools and test equipment, training devices, simulators, generators, transportation, wheeled vehicles, organizational equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $3.00 billion.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress around the world. The upgrade and refurbishment of these helicopters will allow the United Kingdom greater interoperability with U.S. forces.

The proposed sale provides the Government of the United Kingdom with assets vital to deter and defend against potential threats. The United Kingdom will use the Apache helicopters to conduct various missions, including counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations. The materiel and services under this program will enable the United Kingdom to become a more capable defensive force and will also provide key elements required for interoperability with U.S. forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors will be The Boeing Company in Mesa, Arizona; Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, Florida; General Electric Company in Cincinnati, Ohio; Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego, New York; and Longbow Limited Liability Corporation in Orlando, Florida. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of six (6) U.S. contractor representatives in country full-time for up to sixty (60) months for equipment checkout, fielding, and technical support.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded. All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, pm-cpa@state.gov. -30-

There you go, watch a few videos

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Now when it comes to comparing one nation’s costs to another the road is full of potholes, dead end’s and wrong turns but just for comparison it is interesting to compare notes.

  • The Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) from the US Department of Defense is at this link.
  • The Budget Data Report is at this link.
  • A recent contract award notice is at this link.

On this last link, the US Army ordered 82 AH-64E for $1.2 Billion which included 72 remanufactured and 10 new.

The Budget Data Report shows the unit cost hovering between $19 million and $21 million (see what I did there)

The Foreign Military Sale request includes initial logistic support and various extras like additional engines, consumables, simulators and interestingly, ‘wheeled vehicles’, which I assume are missile loaders. Will be interesting see this unfold (see what I did there again), especially with regards to ‘marinisation’ and shipboard suitability because the Apache is going to have to compensate for reduced F-35B numbers.

Just under two billion quid doesn’t seem all that high for the capability, with all those extras thrown in.

50 is less than we have now but compared to other force sizes reduction is actually a smaller in comparison, certainly smaller than the percentage reduction in heavy armour. The only thing that worries me about this is in an equipment sense, is its effect on our ancient vehicle fleet upgrade programme, cash being a finite commodity.

It is also a shame for Westland’s but one can see the logic, all those former Royal Navy, Army Air Corps and Royal Air Force senior officers in ‘business development’ roles at AW might be getting a bit nervous now. Rolls Royce no longer have a stake in the RTM232 engine that equipped the WAH-64.

The request would also seem to indicate a change in DAS from the Selex HIDAS to the BAE AAR-57(V) 3/5 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS). If you go back into the TD archives to here, a look at the MoD’s Common Defensive Aids System  (CDAS) project, wonder where that is going now, given that this request would seem to fly in the face of commonality?

An interesting video on CDAS

.

Finally, a request is not a contract or Main Gate decision, might have to wait until the Yeovil Fat Lady has sung

 

 

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Jules
August 28, 2015 8:08 am

Hmm, and Wildcat as what? £28,000,000 apiece, ok I’ll say it, I’d rather have another 100 Wildcats…
Westlands at Yeovil will be spitting rusty nails!

Will the work be done here?

” The prime contractors will be The Boeing Company in Mesa, Arizona; Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, Florida; General Electric Company in Cincinnati, Ohio; Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego, New York; and Longbow Limited Liability Corporation in Orlando, Florida. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of six (6) U.S. contractor representatives in country full-time for up to sixty (60) months for equipment checkout, fielding, and technical support. ”

What a kick in the teeth!

mike
mike
August 28, 2015 8:41 am

The wildcats could be awesome force multipliers (I went there) to the Apaches if they had a good datalink and Hellfire/Brimstone/whatever capability… just saying!

Anyway, I wonder if the levels of ‘Marinisation’ we’ve done to the Apache fleet will be kept as is? I can see the MoD messing that proposed contract up trying to get Boeing to do some of it… As with going for the ‘E it was the most logical choice; since its a refurbishment its likely those 10 left out of the contract are the most knackered of the fleet anyway.

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
August 28, 2015 8:43 am

I think this is a bad move in the long run, we need to maintain high tech capability in the UK and the Septics will never return the favour.

mickp
mickp
August 28, 2015 8:51 am

I’d skip any thoughts marinisation if not already in the standard US spec, these 50 should provide 3 squadrons of top end helos for sustainable use with our deployable land brigade and full interoperability with the US. I would stick with the Wildcat for QE based helo attack capability and perhaps we should acquire 20 more to form a dedicated squadron to provide a surface / land attack flight to be part of QE TAG options.

Phil
August 28, 2015 8:52 am

Why would you choose a platform which has a role across almost the entire spectrum of operations we conduct and which goes some way to offsetting smaller MBT numbers with an unarmoured flying taxi? Even in non-warfighting operations the Apache could use its optics. As I’ve argued previously we’re in assault breaker territory now with the PGMs we have.

JamesF
August 28, 2015 9:12 am

This is a good decision. WAH-64 was primarily an assembly option, to keep a workforce in place – did not provide much tech transfer and the added UK technology had already been developed. If we want to keep AW busy, we can use the savings to get some more HM2s and Wildcats – a few of those optionally manned VSTOL UAS being developed as a demonstrator would not go amiss either – maybe as part of the MCM module being developed with France?

Hohum
Hohum
August 28, 2015 9:32 am

First, lets remember what a DSCA notification actually is. It does not mean a deal has been done just that this is the maximum that Boeing is currently offering MoD- it does not mean that this will happen. DSCA notifications happen all the time and regularly come to nothing so lets not get ahead of ourselves.

On the topic itself, if this goes down its very good news, Apache is a fantastic capability. The next question is building it into the UK infrastructure, comms, mission planning, blue force tracking, could the UAS control functionality be used with Watchkeeper. And of course, marinisation, its costly but if Apache can be integrated with RN platforms its a major capability boost.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 9:35 am

The issue we will always have with things like AH is that we never purchase in enough numbers to allow anything other than platforms having to fulfill multi roles. Wildcat is probably less than ideal for the Army but is a fantastic maritime multi role aircraft.
In terms of AH, the obvious maritime solution is the AH1Z but we are never going to field AH64 and AH1 in suffcient numbers and when it comes to AH quite rightly the Army get priority and the Navy make do with whatever capability can be offered by ad hoc marinisation.

@JF
VSTOL UAS for MCM? Interestingly japan has just taken delivery of an EH101 MCM variant which will combine laser systems with the AN/AQS-24A towed sonar. This is utilised by US Mh53 “Sea Dragon” MCM variants but this is too big for the newer MH-60s which is going to replace it with a combination of some of the 5 new systems under development.
Current results utilising airborne MCM are not fantatstic and are generally reserved for “precursor ops” allowing a high speed response and look prior to traditional assets entering the area to hunt to a higher probability. They also involve assets at least as big as an MH60. One area the UAS could possibly be useful would be if it could deploy safely an AUV such as REMUS, allowing it to be rapidly deployed, although as current AUVs require to be recovered for PMA this would represent a challenge as well.

mickp
mickp
August 28, 2015 9:40 am

I agree on the good news point, still think the RN is a little light on Merlin and more so on Wildcat hence a few extra to bolster fleets and ‘support’ AW would I think be justifiable. As for marinisation – ok if the cost can be contained within the rebuild but I still feel it is important to leverage the unarmored taxi that is Wildcat particularly for ASuW from destroyers, QE and RFAs (e.g. the Bays). On a day to day basis they will be the RNs attack helo capability

Rocket Banana
August 28, 2015 9:44 am

Of course, this could just be a request for a quote prior to decisions being made for SDSR2015.

At £60m a piece I’d be thinking “why not just run the ones we’ve got into the ground and buy AH-64F/G/H/etc later”.

More Reaper. Less Apache.

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 9:56 am
Reply to  mickp

I think it is important to separate ASuW from land attack. Wildcat will offer a fantastic AsuW capability with Martlet offering a fantattic capability vs small craft due to the high speed and large numbers it can carry. Whilst exact details of Sea venom are still to appear it will offer a longer range upgraded Sea Skua capability with good kill probability agaianst up to 1k tonnes and able to carry 4 a serios discomfort capability vs FF/DD dependent on where and if they hit.
The thing about ASuW is that you want to fire either from outside the range your opponent can fire back at or without being detected. if you are hit by a modern naval SAm then you are generally dead, with or without the armour a true AH has.

An AH operating overland is far more likely to be engaged by small arms fire which is where the armour comes into its own. The question then becomes will the Rn require AH capability from a maritime platform overland often enoufgh to justify the expense of marinisation of AH64?

Out of interest and to offer a stand off land capability I wonder if Wildcat could carry 6 Brimstone, 3 either side :)

Peter Elliott
August 28, 2015 10:07 am

The question of whether 30 HM2 is ‘just enough’ will surely interact with the question about usage of the second carrier. If we intend to have two carriers at sea more than “once in a blue moon” then we surely have to at least consider the possibility of generating 2 force protection airgroups of 14 HM2 EACH. To state the obvious: that’s leaving next to nothing for the Combat Ships, Training, or the Clyde Approaches. In the short to medium term its just not going to happen.

More likely is a fudge of saying we will sometimes operate 2 carriers but only in a single soverign Task Group ie one Strike and one Commando under a single force protection package. At other times the second carrier will either keep to home waters for work up or avaiation training or be deployed with allies who will contribute to the force protection. Fudgy but realistic I guess.

For me it leaves open the possibility that “HM2 Replacement”, be it some sort of co-ax, tiltrotor, or whatever else, probably needs to generate more than 30 units. That will be a major mental block for the MOD to actually acquire more of something thats being replaced rather than less. We will have to suck that one up when we get to it.

Hohum
Hohum
August 28, 2015 10:16 am

There will be one carrier at operational at any one time.

Someone here might know the answer but I have never understood why the UK has never put dipping sonar on Lynx or Wildcat.

Wildcat can not and can not be made to do what Apache does. Also, not just the armour but the DAS and EW capability.

Peter Elliott
August 28, 2015 10:35 am

Hohum agreed. In the event of a sudden crisis the only way to square the circle would be a crash programme to fit wildcat with ASW equipment. The bonus being you can carry two on a combat ship. Two wildcat with the option of AH or ASW fit is probably more capability than a single HM2.

If the Apache fleet is set at 50 does that give scope for the Army to use them in the scouting role? Analgous to using Challenger 2 for recce – the fight for information etc? If so perhaps the RN will get the option to pick up some of the Army’s Wildcats in a year or two?? I get the feeling the Army would sacrifice almost anything to keep Apache numbers up.

Repulse
August 28, 2015 10:38 am

I agree dipping sonar on the Wildcats would be a good idea, but I suspect the reason is primarily due to not wanting to confuse roles with the merlin and limitations on skilled crew.

Martin
Martin
August 28, 2015 10:39 am

This is a welcome decision in many regards. However I wonder if in this light the HM2 upgrade was the correct decision. Selecting AW149 for a new medium helicopter could provide AW with a substantial work flow for a product they developed rather than just simply building something from Boeing with a mark up. Could have given us a CSAR capability that we no longer have as well.

I also wonder if it’s worth buying a new Apache fleet when we could have opted for the AH 1z

No doubt the AH 64 is more capable but having a fuly maranized platform would have ticked a lot of boxes. Given the small size of the helicopter forces I think we should really make an effort to ensure all helicopters bought from now on can operate at sea as well as land.

All politicians are the same
All politicians are the same
August 28, 2015 10:42 am
Reply to  Hohum

“There will be one carrier at operational at any one time”

A decision that has not been made yet. there are actually 3 lines of planning going on for differing possibilities of usage. Official planning.

As for EW and DAS wildcat and apache both have HIDAS and naval helos have always had good EW fits as the maritime environment offers little in the way of terrian to utilise and plethora of platforms withbotha ctive and passive sensors. certainly far more radars and ESM than a land environment unless going up against a full IADS.

Martin
Martin
August 28, 2015 10:45 am

Someone here might know the answer but I have never understood why the UK has never put dipping sonar on Lynx or Wildcat.

Probably for the same reason we don’t put an anti ship missile on Merlin or TLAM on destroyers

The treasury

Repulse
August 28, 2015 10:48 am

Overall the news on the Apache is good and keeps the UK at the forefront of capabilities (if not numbers).

For CVF / HMS Ocean operations I would imagine the Max would be 4-6 airframes in a TAG, so still plenty to go round.

What is ultimately needed for an offensive (over land) strike is either more F35Bs or a new UAV. I think the argument for all (the limited) F35Bs purchased to be primarily carrier based is stronger.

Peter Elliott
August 28, 2015 10:52 am

It actually depends what we mean by “operational”

Certainly 2 Carriers in 2 deployed in 2 separate sovereign task groups is currently a numerical impossibility.

2 Carriers deployed in a single sovereign task group is just about possible but would pull the whole RN out of shape and must probably be considered a “30 year” event.

2 Carriers deployed on a multinational operation with allied force protection in the mix is much more likely, say a “5 year” event.

1 carrier deployable with 1 on training, work-up or otherwise “operational but not deployed” will hopefully be a regular situation helping to build a pool of skills in the shoreside popuulation that could be drawn on in an emergency.

1 on 1 off looks like the default backstop.

Rocket Banana
August 28, 2015 12:00 pm

With regard to QEC carrier usage I’d expect each one to run their lives at 50% in-use/on-call, 25% training/along-side and 25% maintenance. Hence the need for 150% crew.

Anyway. If we do ever happen to field both carriers then surely one would be fast jets and the other would be copters. So there’s no major problem with Merlin numbers as we should be able to field up to 20.

As for Wildcat doing ASW. Can you imagine how poor its endurance would be lugging a sonar suite AND torpedoes around? Can you imagine how long it could stay on station at 50nm? You’d be lucky to get an hour. Hardly proactive ASW.

I do wounder if what APATS said at 9:56 is still valid. Surely we have to add serious proliferation of MANPADS to the anti-copter equation now? Can’t imagine armour makes much difference in this case.

The Other Chris
August 28, 2015 12:25 pm

Don’t have to imagine, keep an eye on the ROK kit.

As for not being able to achieve what Apache can do, challenge accepted.

Apache purchase makes sense as it’s justifiable and off the shelf.

Will dig out the PowerPoint on the Libyan alterations we fed back to the US Army just before the changes moved the aircraft from D Block III to E.

Dahedd
Dahedd
August 28, 2015 12:33 pm

Aren’t the Lynx/Wildcats used by the South Korean navy not equipped with dipping Sonar ?

Surely it wouldn’t take too much effort to support the system on RN Wildcats?

AndyC
August 28, 2015 12:42 pm
Reply to  Hohum

I wrote to Admiral Zambellas on this very topic (as well as others) and he replied, “There are no plans to change the RN Wildcat into an ASW variant; I know other European nations have used their Lynx in this role, but they have accepted shortfalls in other areas such as aircraft endurance and weapon carrying capabilities.”

ChrisD
ChrisD
August 28, 2015 12:44 pm

Shame we’re losing the RTM322. There’s one less bit of commonality (used by Merlin and WAH-64) so the GE is another line of engines, spares, training material to store onboard. I also thought the RTM322, which is still on paper more powerful than the GE T700-701D (subject to any differing rotor gearbox downrating) was one of the reasons why we still could operate with the longbow radar in the hottest & highest regions of Afghan where the US had removed theirs?

Rocket Banana
August 28, 2015 12:49 pm

Wildcat with compact FLASH is not really a blue-water ASW capability… however, I guess it could still be of use in the littorals.

Hohum
Hohum
August 28, 2015 12:50 pm

AndyC,

Thanks for that, very interesting.

JC
JC
August 28, 2015 12:57 pm

re Orphan HM1
http://www.demobbed.org.uk/aircraft.php?type=725
shows 4 in store at Shawbury…click on the serial for pictures.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 1:01 pm
Reply to  Rocket Banana

Why is it not a blue-water ASW capability? It would be the same Sonar with the same frequencies as the HM2. ASW is a team game and the most common use of rotary wing assets is as weapons carriers able to respond quickly to begin the weapons chain or if a dipper to dip normally ahead or astern of the force.
They are very unlikely to be employed as singleton assets at range unless flushing some kind of choke point. They do not give you as great endurance but then you can utilise more of them, they would also never quite obtain the same level of expertise as Merlin flights do.
It would also put the cost of every airframe up.
In terms of capability it would be a nice rather than an essential for the RN but for those navies that only employ Wildcat sized helos it is definitely a useful capability.

mark
mark
August 28, 2015 1:11 pm
Reply to  Think Defence

TD.
That’s what the Korean’s are doing.
http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htairw/articles/20140203.aspx

Rocket Banana
August 28, 2015 1:19 pm
It would be the same Sonar with the same frequencies as the HM2

Really? So 300m of cable rather than 750m?

They are very unlikely to be employed as singleton assets at range

Isn’t it best to keep the sub away from the task force… meaning 8-9 Merlin maintaining two on station at the first CZ and/or one ahead and one behind dipping and dropping.

That’s what we did in 1982 for the entire voyage south!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 1:34 pm

The disposition of the screen will be decided by the predicted sonar performance amongst the assets in the force, as well as number of assets. Then you look at things like SOA and the threat from this you can begin to develop limiting lines of submerged approach and the requirement for helos to dip or drop astern.
You alos have to take into account whether or not you face an ASW threat only and can fully utilise you assets accordingly or is there an Air threat which may drive EMCON policy or lead to a radra picket up threat. if so what do you do about the ASW threat to that asset.
Does the OPFOR have the capability to fire sub launched missiles? can it receive 3rd party targeting? Will it need to come up for a visual look? If so where do you consider the look zone to be? This will be driven by capability and weather. what is the range of the OPFOrs torpedoes? what do we consider their ROE likely to be?
Once the screen is determined are my dippers operating from the HVU centrally or from escorts in the outer screen? This determined the actual range that they are from their platform.
We then have to factor in the increased performance of VDS LFAS.

Times have changed since 82 :)

How many subs do you think are hanging around at 300M plus? If they are do you think they will find it easy to detect you?

Lots and lots of thinking for the ASW Cdr to do.

Rocket Banana
August 28, 2015 2:14 pm

APATS,

Agreed. It’s complex. But it doesn’t change the fact that Wildcat does not make as good a sub hunter as Merlin. It will struggle with any sub that can duck out of depth range [okay, we’re in deep water here]. It will struggle with any sub that can play cat and mouse for hours/days on end due to the burden of transit:station times.

I guess you are implying that you simply change your tactics to incorporate a Wildcat ASW platform instead of Merlin ASW. Although I understand where you’re going, I don’t accept that it will ever be a better solution. Having them all grounded due to OPFOR anti-air is certainly a leveler though.

Peter Elliott
August 28, 2015 2:19 pm

Simon I don’t think anyone’s arguing that Merlin is the better platform for ASW. The point is simply that if we suddenly needed more cabs in a hurry then Wildcat would be the quickest quick – fix available. Although buying, leasing or borrowing medium sized ASW Helos from allies would doubtlessly be explored if any allies had something available and were willing to play ball.

All Politicans are the Same
All Politicans are the Same
August 28, 2015 2:28 pm

@Simon

I never claimed it was as good, I simply pointed out that it was a viable blue water solution for those Navies that only had Wildcat sized rotary wing assets.
As for ducking out of depth range, if you are forcing a submarine down to 300M plus you are doing your job of keeping it away from killing you. As for transit/station times, if you utilise the greater numbers available it becomes nowhere near as much of an issue as you make out.
I am not talking about changing tactics at all, tactics change every time you assess the threat and the assets available and the mission as well as all the other issues I highlighted above. You utilise your experience assets and ideas, you think, you do not select a play from some “mythical” playbook. ASW is a team sport and a thinking mans game.
I never said it would be a better solution either.

I also never mentioned having them all grounded to OPFOR anti air, I was talking about an air threat to the TG which may mean you cannot fully optimise your assets and disposition to cover the ASW threat.

To summarise A Wildcat ASW platform will not be as good as a Merlin one, due to endurance, weapons carriage, processing capability and the fact it is not really a specialised platform. however it would still be extremely useful and is totally viable as a Blue water ASW asset for those nations that field them as so due to a lack of a larger platform.

Donald of Tokyo
Donald of Tokyo
August 28, 2015 2:36 pm

Dear APATS

On 1990s, the basic tactics (as written in book) was “detect (by ship’s TASS), and re-detect (confirm by ASW heli dipping sonar or sonobuoy) and attack (by the heli)”. In this case, the ASW heli is not used for deploying sonar screen, but only for fine-position detection. With this, shorter endurance will not be critical (of course will be a limit).

In modern ASW, the situation has changed? ASW helicopter is primarily used for ASW sonar screening? I understand Merin/Seaking can be (and will be) used this way. They say we are doing the same in Japan, and that’s why we need large (SH60 size at the smallest, actually Japanese SH60K is significantly larger than SH60R) helicopters to do this. Lynx and Wildcat is TOO SMALL to do this.

Then,

I see some photos showing that Wildcat (or Lynx) carrying a torpedo. In this case, they are just guided by the frigate and just release the torpedo in blind? (Like a “manned” DASH?)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 3:01 pm

I hate the word book! We are talking active contacts here. Also have to keep answers unclas.

It would depend on the confidence and classification that you hold the Submarine from the ship. If you have given it a certain classification and hold it well why would you want to dip or drop on it?
The HC in the ops room would simply guide the helo to the weapon release point.

In terms of helo deployment, it once again comes back to the threat and assets. How many subs do we think are out there? How many rotary wing assets do i have? Little point in having 3 or 4 sonar equipped helos all flying around as weapons carriers only. So lets utilise them to spot dip ahead or astern. Personally i would ensure that I had at least one asset available not dipping to act as the initial weapon release platform.
A dipping helo making contact may if the solution is correct conduct a self tac or it may even take another asset and guide it in to conduct the attack.
Non dipping helos being the preferred option as standby weapon release platform.

In terms of size, if you are designing an ASW platform then big is beautiful (within flight deck and hangar lims) to maximise endurance and payload. However I have been at sea on exercises where Dutch and German lynx dipping helicopters have acted as dippers. They have now been replaced by the NF90 as that is the type they have standardised on.

Hohum
Hohum
August 28, 2015 3:02 pm

“Manned DASH” was MATCH in the RN, Lynx was the replacement for the Westland Wasp in that role.

mike
mike
August 28, 2015 3:39 pm
Reply to  Martin

We’ve always had a CSAR capability… mostly delivered by Chinook – as to what level of readiness it is, is another matter. I believe you mean the SAR from the Sea kings? Similar but very different role and skill. I agree though, would be nice to have a dedicated cab for it, but the money isn’t there.

The Other Chris
August 28, 2015 3:47 pm

Feedback on WAH-64 modifications and recommendations following Libya.

Some items included on WAH-64 to clear them for operation. Some items included in AH-64E roadmap as useful to the US Army.

Imagine some of the extra cost for the UK is to retain a number of the existing modifications or to apply modifications that supersede existing ones, as well as continue to add some maritime features which would not be headline items:

– Weapons storage and handling improvements;
– Stronger rotor brake;
– Manually folding rotors;
– Manually folding tail;
– Replacement canopy jettison system;
– Backup battery increase from 6m to 30m;
– Transmission run dry increase to 30m;
– Flotation system;
– Flight garment flotation improvements;
– Fight garment exposure improvements;
– I-Band Transponder;
– ISAR radar modes;
– Increase clutter handling [Littoral radar upgrade];
– Wet sealing;
– Drainage;
– Fastener and fixers [bolts/rivets] material change;
– Galvanic corrosion material change recommendations;
– Windscreen wiping alterations;
– Windscreen salt clearing system;
– NVG compatible light changes for deck handlers;

I’m not too worried about switching to the 701D from the RTM322. Again the transmission wasn’t up to managing full power (three engines on Merlin are for OEO/TEO event safety and hotel power for palleted systems). As mentioned above, RR have divested themselves of the engine.

From a marine perspective, the 701D’s also have excellent salt-water heritage.

Worth noting Hellfire stocks set to run out in 2021-2022. Brimstone required on all Hellfire platforms in that timeframe (Parliamentary Answer).

Jules
August 28, 2015 4:14 pm
Reply to  Phil

Because, we make it design it and can pretty much fit anything we want to, to it, Apache does zero for British industry. It’s sensors are not really any better than wildcat, we can’t go on fielding, tiny numbers of radically differing choppers, we could do everything we require between, Chinook, Merlin and Wildcat, going forward, we don’t need Apache and Puma, I’m with Sell em or Wreck em but don’t upgrade em for near the cost of a jet fighter each!

Mark
Mark
August 28, 2015 4:51 pm

It would appear that within mod the strategic decision has been taken that from fast jets to istar aircraft to helicopters that we will now purchase American. Thus we will take on a contributory role to larger U.S. operations with limited independent action options. Perhaps future expenditure on land sea and air assets, strategic objectives and UK requirements maybe seen thru that lense. I think the odds of small diameter bomb as spear 3 have increased significantly.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 5:07 pm
Reply to  Mark

I am not so sure. It is only a decision where there is a viable alternative. There was not one to F35 or Rivet Joint and as we already operate Apache then upgrading was always the likely way ahead. What else would you have done?
In terms of of operational independence I do not follow your logic at all.
Spear 3 decision now not expected until 2018.

Mark
Mark
August 28, 2015 5:15 pm

Wouldn’t have done anything different just passing comment on what appears to be a trend with recent purchases.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 5:27 pm

@mark

I see it as a trend driven by equipment purchases without any other options though. We have retained the capability to build FF with T26. Built our own carriers, are developing Meteor, have developed Sea Ceptor, FASGWL and H, using Brimstone etc.
I am wondering other than Spear 3 what the next equipment decision will be where there is a choice between US/UK-European solution?

Peter Elliott
August 28, 2015 5:32 pm

I’m not sure there’s a direct link between where we buy our kit from and who we ally with most frequently on operations.

Mark
Mark
August 28, 2015 5:58 pm

Apas

There is always other options. Those may cost less, they may not have all the capability at the highest end but they are options none the less. Ultimately an insistence on the purchase of the highest spec’d equipment on the market across all domains will result in ever reducing numbers which in the end will limit our ability to operate especially as American equipment tends to be more people and maintenance heavy. Was it not how Type 45 was sold that the weapon system and manning and its mode of opteration was more suited to UK ways of doing things than aegis and Burke type ships. maybe surface ships are an exception for now, though we may have had to sell the entire navy to have afforded a cvn!!

Peter I would say plugging in to the American network comes a price many either won’t pay or won’t be allowed to. Sharing of data with your other partners may become more difficult in future.

Jeremy M H
August 28, 2015 6:07 pm

I think blaming the MOD for deciding to buy more things off the shelf isn’t entirely fair. If you want them to buy and develop domestically then either give them more money or reduce the operational expectations on the force. Every single thing they buy from someone else sets someone here off with their pet program that they could have developed in the UK instead. Well that budget won’t support it. It isn’t an MOD decision so much as it is them trying to live in the budgetary reality imposed on them by those you elected.

As for the Wildcat as an alternative I don’t really see it. Frankly I don’t really care for the program at all. It’s a maritime helicopter but it isn’t good enough to be your ASW helicopter. It isn’t seen as good enough to be your attack helicopter. It isn’t really a utility helicopter. But it is kind of pricey to be a recon helicopter. It doesn’t seem like it is quite what any service seems to want. Plenty of good programs exist in that limbo but in most nations they ticked the utility helo box first and added the other stuff later. The whole helicopter situation in the UK baffles me to this day. It seems a complete mess.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 6:23 pm
Reply to  Mark

@Mark

So what were the rivet joint and apache options. T45 was made expensive by cancelling half of them and AB are more expensive and have almost twice the manpower.

stephen duckworth
August 28, 2015 6:26 pm

@JMH
“But it is kind of pricey to be a recon helicopter. ”
I agree its a jack of all trades developed from what was the world’s fastest helicopter record holder, the first to loop de loop etc but compared to the US programmes to replace the Kiowas , all money as we would say p*ssed up the wall, its a bargain compared to the Kiowas replacement ( for now) the Apache. If used as recce only ,see and not be seen no shooting ,then its an expensive burn up of flight hours costs of granted airframes previously relegated to the National Guard. Airframes but come a massed armoured assault from our Chinese or Russian or MENA friends would have been very useful but now will fry their remaining airframe hours up scouting.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 6:29 pm
Reply to  Jeremy M H

@jmh

The Wildcat Merlin duo is one of the few areas where we seem to specialise more than the US the other being asw. merlin is a superior ASW help to Sea Hawk Wildcat will be a Superior isr/ASuW helo.

Jeremy M H
August 28, 2015 6:38 pm

@APATS

yeah I get the advantages it just seems like a decision where everyone else building went another way. It makes some sense but it still leaves a big hole in having a basic utility helo for the UK.

@Stephen

I think the reason that a recon helicopter keeps dying in the U.S. is that it doesn’t offer much that is all that compelling in the end. It is in the nice to have category but when it gets to nut cutting time with the budget everyone chooses to buy more drones and attack helicopters. I mean no rotary wing aircraft is survive able if opposing air unta are operating. Apache is marginally more survivable against lower level threats and ground fire. But to me the situation seems to be that anywhere a recon helicopter could go I can for the most part send a drone. In the instances I can’t an Apache can do the job just fine. Add in its ability to operate around ground fire and significantly heavier punch and I see why all replacement recon helos keep getting axed.

That equation might change with the faster stuff they are working on now. But even then I remain skeptical.

Mark
Mark
August 28, 2015 6:43 pm

Apas

Exactly my point on the ab v type 45 the UK developed solution means we needed less crew ect. On Apache you could of had tiger you could of had more wildcat with brimstone and perhaps added lmm to Watchkeeper you could of even had cobra. None are as capable as Apache one for one but are they gd enough for the UK would they be cheaper would they fit are model better. On rivet joint there is Swedish, Israeli options available im sure UK systems could of been installed on another airframe.
The next one up will it be p8, p1, cn295 I think we know the answer to that, AWACS up after that. Not saying we should develop everything in the UK but companies produce very gd sensors ect in the UK. There’s lots of ways to buy off the shelf other than buy American.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 28, 2015 6:52 pm
Reply to  Mark

@Mark

We already operated apache so why switch is any cost savings worth a platform change? The Israelis would not sell us their equipment. Swedish gulfstream could have been interesting but given our huge cross pollination in sigint with the US it was a no brainer.
CN295 does not meet requirements P1 could be interesting but is still not UK-European.
There are options and viable options.

Mark
Mark
August 28, 2015 7:09 pm

Apas

But would there be cost saving if we switched to armed wildcats. I don’t have a problem with the deal there doing on Apache but it’s nearly as expensive as buying new. The Americans move on quickly 10 years down the line will we need to nearly buy new again?
I agree on the sigint personally I never thought we would give up the independence the r1 afforded us but the cash situation was dire. The Israelis are willing to sell to Italy did we not have some Israeli stuff of mr4 but it never simple.

My point was more about a buy America attitude and potential issues with that rather than a solution must be buy UK or European which there is some aversion too which I always feel is clouded by the EU debate. Requirements are requirements until someone decides to change them :) we once had a requirement to go Mach 2 from a cabbage patch we ended up with Buccaneers.

kernowboy
kernowboy
August 28, 2015 8:31 pm

Pity we can’t consider the T-129 using the same engines as the Wildcat, employment for AW but weapons which are either already in use such as the Hellfire and Stinger or which can be added like the LMM – 51 aircraft for Turkey + 40 options is costing $3billion including development costs for brand new airframes

The Other Chris
August 28, 2015 8:52 pm

Project Airseeker is very interesting, clearly far more than just operating three physical Rivet Joints and more of a significant partnership than it receives comment for.

duker
duker
August 28, 2015 11:51 pm
Reply to  Hohum

Payload. The dipping sonar was used on larger helicopters like Sea King and Merlin, after all you have to carry the torpedoes to attack a target as well

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
August 29, 2015 2:02 am

Am I right in believing that the Wildcat can still drop ASW torpedoes and depth charges like the Lynx when under control of another platform, be it a ship or helicopter?

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 29, 2015 4:17 am

AH-64 is an integral part of the combined arms battle. That’s why its operated by AAC under military command, with a proportion of the pilots having a non-aviation military background. Ignoring COIN, it normally operates on our side of the forward troops. It is just one of the systems engaging the enemy. Its important to understand all this and its tactical and operational implications. I detect a substantial degree of cluelessness in many of the previous posts.

S O
S O
August 29, 2015 9:22 am

I’m no friend of gold-plated army aviation because military helicopters are so damn expensive and cost-inefficient.
50+ million dollars for a refurbished and upgraded attack heliopter is insane.
100+ million dollars as the U.S.Army appears to pay is outright corrupt – beyond explanation with mere incompetence.

A minimum of attack helicopter threat makes sense, since it forces the opposing forces to be careful and thus limits its options, slows it down a bit and lures it to radiate a lot.
To allocate a major share of the land forces budget to rotary aviation is a mistake.

A comparison between main battle tank prices (which aren’t low and never were), SPAAG prices (already 3x of MBT during the 70’s) and AH prices (upwards of 6x MBT) shows that you’re better off having dashful maneuver forces to overrun army aviation forward bases and army depots than to invest in the aerial battle much.
You don’t need 50 AH for a war of occupation either – and a war of occupation doesn’t yield substantial value to your country anyway.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
August 29, 2015 9:37 am

Buying additional Wildcats to replace the WAH-64D instead of upgrading to the E model would be like reintroducing the Snatch Landrover to replace the Foxhound. Sure you would be able to afford more and they would be built in the UK but the loss of capability would be huge.

France, Netherlands both used Lynx with dipping sonars. I believe they also carried 2 lightweight ASW Torpedoes to in the Stingray category. We used our Lynx differently with the Sea Kings carrying the burden of ASW with the Lynx as a delivery system to extend the engagement range of our escort vessels. WE also added an effective ASuW capability with Sea Skua, which most other Lynx operators didn’t, France continuing to operate the AS-12.

As to where we get our kit from, I certainly do not think we need to retain all the home grown design and development. Neither do I believe we should automatically look overseas. What I do think we should be doing is rather than always coming up with a bespoke UK requirement, we should have a good look at what other countries have done to meet similar requirements. SPEAR 3 is a case in point. As it stands SPEAR 3 will have capabilities but will its additional cost over its main rivals the SDB II and AASM, especially the latter in its 250lb guise, and the former when fitted with the rocket motor to extend its range, both of which are under development? Both will cost substantially less than SPEAR 3 as the former appears to be a bolt on to the existing SDB II and the latter is adapting the AASM guidance and control modules to the US MK81 bomb.

On the whole I believe our defence industries need to be able to stand on the own two feet without MOD contracts to be viable. This is the extreme end of the scale but if an industrial base is only supported by UK contracts it is not cost effective. In shipbuilding we haven’t had a successful design since the Leander class with regards to exports. Since then our vessels have been too mission specific and expensive to interest other countries except on the second hand market. Instead many have turned to Germany and bought variations of MEKO designs. Nobody bought the Challenger and only a very small number of Challenger 2s were exported and the sale of the Desert Warrior to Kuwait was more of a thank you for liberating their nations than anything else. We could not give away the SA80, we tried in Mozambique but they got rid of them as soon as possible picking up their AK47s and AKM as soon as out training missions left. Instead countries have bout M16/M4s, HK G36s and 416s or even Israeli Tavors. The only area we are really still competitive is in aerospace and European politicians are doing their damn best to wreck that by not helping fund timely development of the true capabilities of certain platforms.

If we are willing to pay the additional cast for UK manufactured kit in the numbers needed then I have not problem. Otherwise I would rather buy cheaper foreign kit that meets 80% of our requirements, that other nations, especially NATO members, are happy with. Yes there are going to be exceptions, CASD for example as I cannot see the US selling us 3 or 4 Ohio successors or the French doing similar. No one was building a carrier that met our requirements, but FRES (SV) has been developed to such a UK specific requirement, one that no other NATO member has or had! Other European NATO members have moved on to smaller usually wheeled AFVs in the recce role such as the VBL and Fennek, the French AMX-10RC and its successor being the obvious exceptions. What to we need that they do not? I would have preferred if we had spent half as much and bought enough Boxers (having stayed in the programme) for eight Mechanised battalions, than bought the FRES(SV), or at most only bought around 100 of the latter to equip the recce companies of the Armoured and Armoured Infantry battalions, replacing the Scimitars and also the Sultans/Spartans in the Command groups. How many out there believe the FRS(SV) is going to win export orders? At least the platform it is based on is used by Spain, Austria and Greece.

If we do not come up with an effective Defence Industrial Strategy, our defence industry will wither and die like British Leyland that built bespoke car for the UK market like the Maxi, Marina and Allegro. Yes we did build the Mini and some high end successes but how many Germans bought a Maxi?!

Rocket Banana
August 29, 2015 9:54 am

Lord Jim,

I tend to agree. The industrial strategy needs to be self sustaining (nuclear subs excluded).

I think however that the UK has a problem in that it can’t figure out if it’s European or not.

Add to that the fact that the UK is a “financial services” country to our politicians and does not and should not ever get involved in mundane manufacturing again.

JamesF
August 29, 2015 10:22 am

I beleive the Army are very happy with the Apache capability, and give it a higer priority than Challenger upgrade. I think compating helicopters with helicopters is not what this is about. The capability is about providing an effective anti-armour and anti-ground forces/CAS capability, felxible enough to be rapidly deployed in a variety of situations at very short notice, sustainable (WAH64 will rapidly run out of spares, software support and maintainance expertise as AH-64D is phased out, and become vitually unusable if not replaced while the AH64E line is open) interoperable with our key partner, the US, and able to contribute to situational awareness (the US is phasing out Kiowa, and relocating the recce function onto AH-64 UAVs). If we want a debate, it should probably be about whether we have a lot of MBTs, and limited attack helicopter capability (as we did in the 1980s and 1990s), or more very capable attack helicopters and fewer MBTs. On numbers, the 67 WAH-64 delivered in the early 2000s were never all fully operational – there were not enough trained crews, and the operating costs were so high that they were only ever deployed in much smaller packets. 50 is enough.

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
August 29, 2015 10:38 am
Reply to  Obsvr

As opposed to all those attack helicopters that operate under non military command? Maybe should have read your post before calling others clueless :)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 29, 2015 10:50 am

I agree with JF as to how to present the problem. It just needs to be looked at more widely:
– isn’t the UAV reference to Grey Eagles (a bit heavy for just observing, and also not that expendable due to unit price)
– add to it 50 (?) ATACMSs for the price of each AH… beats the fire power of the Predator derivative (hence observing on AH’s behalf should be enough. If you don’t want to expose the AH (which has sensors that should help it stay out of range of ManPads and what ever AFVs carry as secondary armament for AD), let the man-in-the-loop push the ATACMS fire button, without delay.

Having said this, ground formations should not be totally denuded of MBTs (perseverance and all-weather capability, in addition to be very effective (demoralising) fire support platforms

JamesF
August 29, 2015 10:55 am

A few other thoughts. RR is no longer involved in the manufacture of the RTM322, so the choice is now between a French or an American engine. The AH-64E includes more pwerful engines and a new gearbox so presumably the performance advantage of WAH-64D will no longer be an issue. WAH-64D was marinised, with folding rotors etc. – so remanufactured UK airframes will presumably retain those features? The main improvements seem to be a comprehensive digital architecture/data links, much better night flying performance (better sensors and full IFS) , much improved ISTAR – better radar and electro-optical sensors and interfaces, the ability to operate UAVs from the helicopter. The ‘E’ also inlcudes new composite rotor blades and strenthened undercarriage as airframe improvements. Critically, without either buying AH-64E or remanufacturing WAH-64D to ‘E’ standard, the current airframes will be unsupportable once the US Army has phased the ‘D’ model out. Also there are real cost advantages to piggy-backing off the US production run. The links seems to suggest that the cost to the US of a remanufactured AH-64E is in the region of $18-$20 million – so interesting to understand what the $60 million quoted for the UK includes? The original airframes were supplied by Boing to AW as kits, which were then ‘fitted out’ with engines, rotors etc. in the UK, so there should not be too many differences in the remanufacturing process. I imagine a good chunk of the $60 mllion is through-life support.

Mark
Mark
August 29, 2015 11:16 am

Way back when we induced smart pocurement and senior mod figures queued up to tell anyone who listened how we would no longer gold plate and go with the 80% solution ect, this usually followed the NAO pocurement report and how it would be different next time and has continued now for years.

Leaving the rights and wrongs of the strategy to one side, can anyone think of any major pocurement were we’ve actually gone for the 80% solution instead of just reduction in numbers by 30%+. Was it all just senior office/mod PR hot air.

Peter Elliott
August 29, 2015 11:30 am

Actually the choice of STOVL carriers is an 80% solution. We get 2 ships to provide continuous availability and forgo the very top end of capability as a result. The other choice was one ship with all the bells and whistles.

Peter Elliott
August 29, 2015 11:32 am

The Albion Class are similar: we replaced 2 LPD with 2 LPD but gave up the desired avaition hangar to meet affordability.

JamesF
August 29, 2015 11:39 am

AirSeeker is an 80% solution too – no desirable UK fits like probe-and-drogue in flight refuelling capability or even the ability to wear a UK paint job! Of course 80% has its problems too -most notoriously the corner cutting on the Chinook HC3 buy created a budget eating monster. So sometimes not really a good idea.

Mark
Mark
August 29, 2015 12:07 pm

PE

If two 65000t ships at double the original budget and a stealthy super sonic vertical takeoff aircraft is considered a lower cost 80% solution then premier league football transfer prices must be considered reasonably cheap.

Peter Elliott
August 29, 2015 12:16 pm

Mark

Compare with the costs of a CVN and an airwing including E2D and you will see we have in fact snaffled a bargain.

Much of the budget overspend on this project is in fact not down to the choice of equipment but to political and treasury dealys.

Also don’t fall into the trap of equating purchase cost with whole cost. The STOVL carrriers will be substantially cheaper to operate than the equivalent CATOBAR becuase of the lower headcounts required.

Peter Elliott
August 29, 2015 12:25 pm

Is there anyone in the world today who is getting a meaningful naval aviation capability for substantially less money than us? Or is getting substnatially more bang for the same amount of buck?

While its probably beyond open source analysis to penetrate Russian or Chinese numbers I would have to suspect the answer is still no.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 29, 2015 12:25 pm

@Mark

You have to look at the actual capability gained. Then understand how difficult and expensive that is and can be. The Russians and Indians have spent mega fortunes to run infinitely less capable carriers.
The cost over runs here were largely politically made.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 29, 2015 12:27 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

Precisely

Rocket Banana
August 29, 2015 12:27 pm
The STOVL carriers will be substantially cheaper to operate than the equivalent CATOBAR because of the lower headcounts required.

What Peter means here is that we won’t be needing the FAA as all the flying will be done by the RAF ;-)

Peter Elliott
August 29, 2015 12:58 pm

Simon

Not actually interested in what colour overalls the pilot wears of which funny badge is on his chest.

Anyway my point was about deck crew not pilots.

Repulse
August 29, 2015 1:56 pm

As has been said before, one reason that the QEC ended up STOVL, was that additional RAF units could be surged without the need for extensive carrier training. It’s an 80% solution as the F35B has limitations but overall gives the UK maximum bang per buck if both are operated in the way envisaged.

Repulse
August 29, 2015 2:01 pm

With the expected number of Merlins, Wildcats, Apaches, Chinooks and F35Bs being North of 250, I’d actually argue that we need another flat top… I know it’s not popular, but keeping Ocean active would allow a smaller platform to operate closer to shore and also even as a forward ASW carrier.

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
August 29, 2015 2:02 pm
Reply to  Repulse

It ended up VSTOl as we made daft assumptions about the ability to convert to conventional ops in terms of maturity of the design in terms of conversion (it was not accounted for to the level that was assumed) and also the maturity of the Em cats.

Rocket Banana
August 29, 2015 2:24 pm

PE,

I know. It was just a little joke. Sorry.

Rocket Banana
August 29, 2015 2:28 pm

APATS,

Just curious but is there a blue-water navy that operates a Wildcat sized aircraft as their only ASW copter?

There are certainly a few navies but I seem to find most larger navies end up at the ten-tonne mark in order to get the endurance and payload. Any idea why the ten-tonne mark is so “magical”?

I should probably add to this that you know better that I how things are evolving so is this also something we might see more of in the future [small ASW copters]?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 29, 2015 2:53 pm

The South Koreans are definitely a Blue Water navy. Brasil does as well. what is driving the move to larger helos is nothing to do with ASW helicopters but the move to single utility helos that can operate as land based and seas based assets, the 10 tonne mark is all to do with passenger capacity and flight deck, hangar limitations.
much like the F35 countries want to operate single types in multiple roles.

Challenger
Challenger
August 29, 2015 3:11 pm

Is the UK arm of AW actually building anything at the moment aside from finishing up the Wildcat order? From what i can gather the most successful elements for their current product range like the AW109/39/49/89 etc all seem to be built by the Augusta side of things.

Ron
Ron
August 29, 2015 3:15 pm

How much does a dipping sonar, couple of sting rays, sonar buos, processing kit, consoles, periscope detecting radar, operators & enough endurance to make it all worth while, weigh? I’ll wager a darn sight more than a Lynx can carry.

This is one of the more pointless debates I’ve seen here, WTF would the RN f*k about spending 10’s of millions they don’t have in turning their Lynx into substandard ASW platforms when they have the incomparable Merlin. SMH.

The Other Chris
August 29, 2015 3:16 pm

Yeovil are putting together AW189’s amongst other work, Bristow receiving the first lots I think.

Ron
Ron
August 29, 2015 3:20 pm

“It ended up VSTOl as we made daft assumptions about the ability to convert to conventional ops in terms of maturity of the design in terms of conversion (it was not accounted for to the level that was assumed) and also the maturity of the Em cats”

No. The ability to relatively easily convert back to CATOBAR was eliminated in a previous Treasury inspired cost cutting exercise. The RAF guys that pressured for the F-35C were unaware of that fact.

And further back, STOVL was selected because it enabled a smaller and cheaper carrier to do the work of a larger. The downside was the higher cost & complexity of the aircraft to be carried.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 29, 2015 3:27 pm
Reply to  Ron

Sorry but it was not eliminated, it was assumed it still existed.

Ron
Ron
August 29, 2015 3:29 pm

Sorry but no.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 29, 2015 3:32 pm
Reply to  Ron

Source? Or credibility? NAB who is obviously very internal and informed says so and I in a short 6 month job heard exactly the same for Aircraft Carrier Alliance in meetings.
It was assumed it would be easier to convert than it was but the specs for conversion were not available when the design internally was confirmed.

The Other Chris
August 29, 2015 3:35 pm

And the Defence Committee questioning on what happened turned into a bit of an embarrassing damp squib…

Peter Elliott
August 29, 2015 3:39 pm

I think Ron may be referring to the 2007 “optimisation” of the design for STOVL which AIUI reduced the length of the ships by around 20m?

Presumably if the pre-2007 dimensions had survivied until 2010-12 then the costs for conversion _might_ have come in somewhat lower becuase there would have been more space to fit everything in??

Ron
Ron
August 29, 2015 4:45 pm

Old Pal connected to the design office so not quotable and he didn’t use the words I used. He also said the ability to convert wasn’t in the (long) list of MoD contractual requirements. So (my words) hardly surprising it wasn’t there when they supposedly wanted it again. I say “supposedly” because the desire for a change at that late date was not in the least universal (same source).

As usual with these kind of issues, you can read what you want and hear what you want but at the end of the day up to you what you chose believe and what you don’t. More pointless secrecy & mystery your side of the Atlantic than mine. Entirely designed to cover asses (arses?). All fun and games.

Ron
Ron
August 29, 2015 4:58 pm

Just postulating and based on my experience here not there but sometimes it goes like: party A (say the RAF) wants a change and party B (say the RN) doesn’t but doesn’t want yet another argument, says sure, go for it, if you can get the party C, the purse holder (say the Treasury) onboard, I won’t disagree. Treasury says, sure we’ll sign off if the overall $’s stay the same, go ask the builders. Builders (privately) says F*k dis Sh*t, we’ve spent decades arguing contracts & estimates & budgets not opening that can of worms again. Publicly, and with a nod from parties B & C, they reply, it will cost you a billion zillion dollars to change, but we’d love do do it, please come back with a check from Party C. Party B asks party C to use their uncashed check for FOAS to pay for changes. Party C laughing its head off, says, that account was closed years ago. End of story.

Hohum
Hohum
August 29, 2015 5:11 pm

I agree with APATS.

CVF design largely occurred when EMALS (and other bits) was very immature- difficult to design for something that doesn’t have a finalised form yet.

I find it amusing that someone who called discussing Lynx as an ASW helicopter pointless insists on dragging up the carrier debate for the nth time.

Ron
Ron
August 29, 2015 7:09 pm

Got me good there! In my defense, ’twas not I that started the STOVL debate again. But I’ll shut up about that, all water under the bridge.

A couple of defense blogs say that Boeing offered brand new build AH-64E (not rebuilds) for less than $20 mill a pop. Hard to understand why the MoD wasn’t all over that.

Fedaykin
August 29, 2015 7:19 pm

As already pointed out there are other better ways of helping Augusta Westland by buying more of what they currently build. The AH-64E pretty much does all the stuff that made the WAH64D unique with its upgraded defensive aids and more powerful engines.

The RTM322 01/12 fitted to the WAH64D is just about more powerful than the T700-GE-701D but lacks the uprated gearbox. Now Rolls Royce are out of the picture I would think the Army would much prefer buying into the power-plant purchased by our allies in vast numbers.

The Other Chris
August 29, 2015 7:21 pm

@Ron

They probably did, but did that figure include comprehensive through life support in an overall FMS program?

Hohum
Hohum
August 29, 2015 8:05 pm

Ron,

The $20 million figure is bullshit. FY15 reported flyaway cost for a remanufactured Apache is approx $25 million and new-build in FY14 was $35.5 million. And that doesn’t get you any spares or support etc.

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 30, 2015 5:12 am

The reason that AH offer excellent value for money is their ability to move very quickly from one area to another, whether to help exploit an opportunity or to reinforce against enemy success. This is coupled with their capability to engage moving targets with precision munitions, something that the mobile firepower of artillery lacks (particularly since UK opted out of purchasing SADARM type weapons).

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 30, 2015 7:49 am

That’s why they are a combat arm, and arty is not.

Should call the AAC Rgmnts AirCavalry… but the Americans used that designator for something else in the Vietnam era.

JamesF
August 30, 2015 8:56 am

I imiagine remanufacturing allows us to keep the marinisation features of the WAH-64 too? New builds would need this as an addtional cost.

TAS
TAS
August 30, 2015 9:48 am

Wildcat/Lynx does not have a dipping sonar in UK service for one very simple reason. Endurance. Small airframe, 2 crew (the observer probably having to do all the ASW processing work, or else add a 3rd crew member) and the weight of the sonar set and processing system = sub-1h30 endurance, probably sub-1hr. And no weapons. What is the point of a small dipping sonar for an hour or two every day when a Merlin can crack on with a full-fat combat system, buoys and dipping sonar for 3h+ per mission.

The nature of tactical non-nuclear (powered) ASW means a dipping Lynx is window dressing, not a meaningful capability.

JamesF
August 30, 2015 10:04 am

I wonder if these new Apaches could be made to talk to Watchkeeper? Excellent tactical ISTAR capability. Now if we could get Watchkeeper to fly off a QE (a lightweight trolley mounted catapult and a simple arrester system required), then in the littoral role the combination would be very effective. There is also the option of arming Watchkeeper with fretefall LMM too.

Peter Elliott
August 30, 2015 10:26 am

Sounds a great idea – only question mark would be if the Watchkeeper arrestor wire were deemed to interfere with the novel and untested F35 SRVL. It would be a bit of a faff stringing and unstringing it several times a day replete with opportunity to cock up and leave expensive equipment careering into the briney (or worse).

Peter Elliott
August 30, 2015 10:28 am

Also expect NAB to pop up and ask if Watchkeeper is marinised not only for salt water but also for shipboard electromagnetic compatability.

The Other Chris
August 30, 2015 10:59 am

Would look to move ahead with the ScanEagle trials but update to the Integrator model as well along the RQ-21A Blackjack modifications.

Keep Watchkeeper operating from land (even if it’s loaned for occasional MSA use…).

Peter Elliott
August 30, 2015 11:16 am

Agree we’ve been woefully slow with scan eagle and it’s derivatives. The lesson was ‘officially learned’ in 2012 and by now this should be a core competence for any combat ship passing sea training: OTH target ID, gunnery and missile shots. Instead of which we are still pissing about with a couple of contractor operated sets of the simplest variant on a UOR basis. That’s not how you train a fleet for war.

Peter Elliott
August 30, 2015 11:29 am

Investing in T26 with strike length cells and not putting an RQ21A on each ship smacks of the complacency of 1906-16 tbh: Assembling a hugely expensive fleet without the skills, equipment and situational awareness to hit the enemy hard when the time comes.

JamesF
August 30, 2015 11:42 am

In defence of RN (and T26) , they have only had resources for ScanEagle for ships operating in the Gulf, they have funded a VSTOL UAV demonstrator programme through AW and T26 has been designed with a small hanger door for UAVs and open digital architecture to control them. So a bit like fitting the T41 VLS wihout ordering TLAMs, the T26 design alows for a UAS capability when extra resources or an urgent situation makes it an imperative.

Peter Elliott
August 30, 2015 12:28 pm

James I agree the kit can be plugged in as and when. But what about the skills needed to make best use of it? Its not the whizzy tech: its the people.

Can a Warfare Officer call himself well trained who hasn’t practiced tasking an organic UAS and using the information to direct the ship’s fires? When to use it and when not to? What it can tell us and what it can’t? How it copes with different weather, terrain and visibility? We don’t want to find ourselves having to learn those things ‘on the job’ once lives are actually at stake.

T23 already goes to sea with both Harpoon and its main gun. While the new ships will have a bigger gun, whizzier ammunition and, presumably at some stage, more different missiles, we could and should be practicing now the basics of fighting a combat ship using an organic UAS.

JamesF
August 30, 2015 12:38 pm

Peter, yes I see your point: well made. I too think that all our escorts should have UAS by now.

Martin
Martin
August 30, 2015 12:58 pm

The issue is that we barely have enough engineers to operate our ships much less set up an entire new branch and training pipeline to operate UAS.

Using civilians contractors in this role is probably the best current option. Not ideal but better than nothing.

Peter Elliott
August 30, 2015 3:09 pm

Martin that’s a counsel of despair. The technology isn’t going to go away. If we don’t even try then of course we won’t succeed. The tail must not be allowed to wag the dog. That’s what top level leadership is really about.

Hopefully the RN manning assumptions in SDSR15 will be more successful in then those in SDSR10…

Rocket Banana
August 30, 2015 3:13 pm

I would have thought a UAS (organic or not) simply feeds into the overall fused air/sea picture?

Why is a modular/supplemental system not a good idea? It’s not like Scan Eagle is going to replace Wildcat’s Seaspray any time soon.

I think on-ship (frigate sized) UAS is still in its infancy and needs more work. Until then there’s little point rolling it out onto every vessel… although it may well be the case in the future.

The same is also true for the British Army’s need for OTH visibility.

Peter Elliott
August 30, 2015 3:25 pm

Simon – thats exactly the sort of question you only find out by trying: when is it best to send the UAS or send the Wildcat. And remember one can be up 24/7 if needed while the other cannot. And how does having even the option to use Scaneagle change the decision making on a whole range of other things like where you put the ship and for how long.

Would be interested to hear what APATS and his like within the service think about Scaneagle. Are they excited? Sceptical? Frustrated? Do they think RQ21A is worth the difference by comparison? Are we doing exchanges with USN units that have it? Does having Scaneagle civi operated at arms length matter? Are we well set up to integrate its feed into the ‘picture’?

At least the army now has Watchkeeper and are presumably getting used to using it.

Martin
Martin
August 30, 2015 3:37 pm

@ Peter

I agree the RN needs to have organic UAS capability however being pragmatic it’s a lot easier to get a civilian to man a UAS than most other jobs on a frigate. Also until a system is selected it’s a bit of a waste of money training up large numbers on a UOR system. It’s an abysmal failure that the RN does not already have such a system though and hopefully it will be high on the list following SDSR 2015.

I think it will be especially useful if we are to get something out of the batch 2 rivers as well.

Rocket Banana
August 30, 2015 3:37 pm

PE,

Fair enough. I think Watchkeeper is operated by the Royal Artillery so seems to be at a totally different level of operation. Similar perhaps to operating some UAS from the carrier as part of a task force rather than individually on each frigate.

I’m not suggesting the utility of something like Scan Eagle does not exist. I just see it more as just another sensor adding to the overall picture with perhaps the ability to hand-off control to a nearby Apache AH-64E… managed to get it back on topic ;-)

Does anyone know how Scan Eagle fares in poor weather… especially in comparison with the embarked copter?

Stu W
August 30, 2015 4:25 pm

To quote Janes ‘The MoD has been undertaking a capability sustainment programme (CSP) to consider its future attack helicopter options (at a fleet strength of 50 platforms), but has declined to say when it will report the study’s findings. The AH-64E is understood to be the favoured option, with others being the procurement of a new helicopter type altogether or even scrapping the capability.’

TAI seem to have sorted most of the issue with the T129 and I believe 50 units cost $1.2 billion

The Other Chris
August 30, 2015 5:12 pm
Reply to  Think Defence

@TD

Which program is that USV in support of? Guessing MHC and the MCM route rather than a Protector or a Fleet-class style vessel?

http://www.janes.com/images/assets/440/50440/1530518_-_main.jpg
comment image

http://www.textronsystems.com/sites/default/files/gallery/496C0119_lowres.png

The Other Chris
August 30, 2015 6:31 pm

Since AW129 has been mentioned probably worth re-posting that AW and Italy are calling for another joint military development [4].

Specifically to replace both the Mangusta and the Puma with a common drivetrain, avionics and subsystems to support both attack and utility helicopter roles.

Not necessarily applicable this time around however possibly consider Puma, Apache E and Merlin replacement timelines from a UK perspective.

Whether we purchase something from JMR [1] (or Cleanskies 2), develop our own common-spine drivetrain [2] (partner with AVX?!) or stick with something a little more conventional [3] (why is Apache E the only option again?) is up to you to have a chat about.

[1] V280 Valor JMR Development

http://www.janes.com/images/assets/369/52369/main_p1625280.jpg

[2] AVX Concept for common spine coaxial helicopter system with optional pusher fans

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5266a0bae4b011999b2d65a0/5270322ee4b08a1695a4acef/527032c8e4b0aa61f184cad2/1431223185428/4SS_FVLmaintenanceStations.jpg

[3] UH-60M with ESSS system carrying 8 x Hellfire and 38 x Hydra with refueling probe

http://previewcf.turbosquid.com/Preview/2014/07/10__14_23_57/UH_60M_Blackhawk_SOAR_V6_1.jpg414e3bdc-8e4c-4b05-a416-4bc51265877dLarge.jpg

[4] AgustaWestland wants new Anglo-Italian military helicopter, Flight Global 13 Jul 2015

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/agustawestland-wants-new-anglo-italian-military-helicopter-414553/

AO
AO
August 30, 2015 7:52 pm
Reply to  Lord Jim

“our defence industries need to be able to stand on the own two feet without MOD contracts to be viable”
Difficult when our own purchases as too small and most other nations want to buy their own, hence all our potential customers want ‘technology transfer’ and then we ultimately end up building up our competitors and they then build a local variant and export in competition to us. Just take China now exporting high-speed trains based on designs they bought from France (reportedly paying $800m) and modified just enough to get out from under the contract terms (even proposed to sell to US).
Our budgets aren’t big-enough for 100% indigenous design and build, to ‘sell’ to others either means tech-transfer (so no UK jobs) or joint development which just becomes a workshare pissing competition.

Even in the tank market you now have Turkey and India looking for export markets in competition with Germany and US. Most seem to buy US probably due to ‘who will come and help you out when you’re in trouble – germany hahahah!!!’ diplomatic pressure, or built their own.

While buying foreign and having UK modification seems expensive, we seem to forget just how ‘expensive’ UK kit really was when the UK government was held over a barrel by MoD, Industry and Unions triad. With buying foreign (with possible local input) we can just switch in the future if something good comes along and it make sense.

AO
AO
August 30, 2015 7:59 pm
Reply to  AO

Oh! and given 95% of our future operations will be with the US and given their purchasing power, it make sense to use their kit where it’s a 80-90% fit. (and lets face it, less likely to have blue on blue issues if our kit looks like theirs!).

As for the local element, I don’t understand why we’re tier 1 partner on F35, paying significant amount of money into the program – and then end up having them serviced in Italy! We should sit on the back if the US Marine’s maintenance program or have it local, but then Italy, Spain and others wouldn’t come to us for maintenance – local doesn’t make sense as everyone wants their own ‘local’ which is the most expensive option.
Wouldn’t object if the Italians bought something from us in return, but not happening.

Jeremy M H
August 30, 2015 8:16 pm

While I think there is merit in a new general helicopter design for the UK/Italy I do think that a fundamental issue that impacts this and future fighters seems to be cropping up. Namely where is the next generation of military turbines for Europe going to come from. The goals set by the U.S. under their programs are ambitious.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/land/army-aviation/2015/03/29/armys-itep-engine-program-advances/24957493/

Given all the trends we see such engines will be nearly as important if not more important than the new airframes themselves. I haven’t bothered totaling up what is being spent under the various turbine engine programs in the U.S. but it is likely billions over the next few decades. Absent such an engine I don’t see how any new utility or attack helicopter competes in 10 years time.

The Other Chris
August 30, 2015 8:29 pm

UK F-35B’s will be assembled at Fort Worth and maintained both in the US, here (Marham) with engine work in Norway. As a Tier 1 partner we have more ITAR waived components than others. Fort Worth is also where our embedded source code and sovereign source code teams are based.

Italy gets the rest of Europe, although Israel now want their own plant.

Norway are intriguing. Looking to also use the US and UK maintenance locations and possessing the aforementioned engine maintenance works. AIM are also looking to purchase industrial property near Marham as well.

The Other Chris
August 30, 2015 8:37 pm

@Jeremy M H

Completely agree. Losing out on F136, being ditched from the AETD and related plans, and divesting items such as RTM322 share leaves RR with a slender military future.

I worry for them.

On the other hand they’re still involved with LHTEC, SNECMA, Eurojet and Turbomeca with Adour. They’re still ably competitive in the civilian and business jet arena and advanced project research is still ongoing which is still mentioned in the AETD family of projects.

Jeremy M H
August 30, 2015 10:22 pm

I don’t worry so much that RR won’t be in on the next generation. I think they will get shares of work in U.S. programs eventually. The issue is going to be that if there is nothing competitive with what those programs develop there is zero reason for the U.S. to sell those engines for other airframes. RR may develop a great engine or be a partner in one for the VAATE programs. But they can’t turn around and do whatever they want with what is developed.

Generally what causes the U.S. to export an engine is that there are other broadly similar competitors out there. No one can buy an F-119 or F-135 (without having an F-35 attached to it). If Europe is serious about the next generation of military aerospace I would think the first step is heading towards significantly more powerful engines. The importance is just going to rise as one packs more electronics and eventually directed energy defenses and offensive weapons on to airframes. Power demands are just going to keep going up.

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2015 10:05 am

Love the idea of a 10t lifting “spine”. Sounds like AW have got their heads screwed on properly again.

Did the A/T-129 and Lynx/Wildcat not share the same 6t spine? Seems a bit of an oversight if they didn’t.

Chris
Editor
Chris
August 31, 2015 10:29 am

Simon – not sure what status Lynx has now, seeing as it was a JV between Westlands and Aerospaciale – no doubt there have been contractual dealings over Lynx IPR but its possible there is still a link?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 31, 2015 11:13 am

Afghan army (AF?) was given 6 budget model AHs, and then that was taken further with SOC Little Bird features and Israeli armaments helping towards upping the design:

http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2012-04-06/md-helicopters-enters-armed-scout-contest-md-540f

And good to hear that McDonnell Douglas helicopters (MD) lives on… the other bird in the piccie is the CEO of the private equity firm that runs it now.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 31, 2015 11:15 am

Should have added the leading-in thought:

That the AH version (8 planned) of the Hellcat never materialised (?).

The Other Chris
August 31, 2015 2:10 pm

Some details on the Mannued-Unmanned Teaming international version (MUMTi) system being included in the FMS request:

http://www2.l-3com.com/csw/images/ads/MUMTi_Brochure_WEB.pdf

Brian Black
Brian Black
September 1, 2015 8:36 am

The big draw for the UK towards Apache is the idea of interoperability and integration with the Americans.

For something like Rivetjoint, that seems quite reasonable. There are only twenty of those in existence, and the cost of developing a tiny fleet of three similar aircraft would be ridiculous.

When it comes to Apache though, in a joint operation, by the time the British Army deploys a dozen Apache the US Army could probably have a couple of hundred in theatre. On those occasions, is the idea of the interoperability of your tiny aircraft contingent that much more important than investing in fewer areas of specialisation and being able to provide a bigger package of alternative specialist capabilities?

For any US-led operation, would it be short of Apache helicopters if the UK didn’t bring any? For any likely UK-led, or solo adventures, is Apache absolutely essential in place of a more cost-effective alternative?

A developed Wildcat could well be cheaper than Apache, even if fifty further Wildcat were operated, simply because you had done away with an aircraft type.

If you concluded that vertical flight for your light attack aircraft was quite a niche capability, then a single-engine fixed-wing light attack aircraft would be substantially cheaper, one for one, than a helicopter; and greater performance and reliability would allow a smaller fleet to match availability, and cut costs further.

Fifty fully developed army Wildcats could be cheaper while meeting the UK’s actual defence requirements. Integrating Brimstone and LMM onto existing Army Wildcats, to fill the VTOL niche, while buying a cheaper fixed-wing aircraft could be a more cost-effective solution. Or perhaps splitting the Apache money between further investment in both Wildcat and Reaper would be more suitable.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
September 1, 2015 8:58 am
Reply to  Brian Black

Brian is talking alot of sense, if there were other platforms to carry brimstone which is a core weapon for Tornado, it would make it easier to phase out. Also with the rising costs of F-35, why not buy the new F-18F or G? I wrote to the dence minister and he stated that “the F-35 is central to the governments defence output of the future..” I bet that was before the unit price doubled. Rebuilding is more expensive than replacing, when will we ever learn?

JamesF
September 1, 2015 9:06 am

Brian, I disagree – the big draw is the Apache’s capabilities – helping a rag-tag group of rebels turn back an aromured force in Libya, and carrying out CAS in Afghanistan – its ability to operate in both a maritime and land environment, and its comibnation of all weather attack and ISTAR capabilities. Interoperability, current experience and expertise wit the platform contribute to preferring apache over A129 or Tiger, but its an attack helicopter that the Army want. Why not use the US Army’s? – well firstly it is a tactical capability, integrated into the combat force at brigade level or lower – thus it requires our forces to train closely with the platform in an all-arms environment – and also for Apache’s to be avialble as integral components of UK force packages. There were no US apaches available for Libya, and the small UK Apache force was extremely effective against brigade sized armoured units. Also given the way forces are parcelled out in joint-operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the UK Brigade sized detachments could not rely upon some tactical elements being provided by the US ( your argument apples better to theatre wide capabilites). AirSeeker is an important sovereign capability as intelligence is a peculiarly ‘national’ security issue.

TAS
TAS
September 1, 2015 9:35 am

As usual, too much focus on shiny gimmickry and too little thought about reality.

How is Wildcat even remotely in the same category as Apache? Apart from the fact that similar weapons can be bolted on, it lacks the 30mm chain gun, does not have a radar equivalent to Longbow (and even if SeaSpray can be miraculously modified to perform similar functions overland, it is fundamentally on the wrong bit of the airframe), can only carry at best half the weapons load of the Apache, lacks the armour, lacks the necessary situational awareness (not designed for close-in knife-fighting), etc, etc, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

The Army bought into Lynx for the transport, armed escort, anti-tank warfare, reconnaissance and evacuation missions. That niche still needs to be filled (less reconnaissance thanks to Watchkeeper).

Peter Elliott
September 1, 2015 11:37 am

Now the die is cast on Apache and now we have Watchkeeper and Predator in the mix it is Wildcat that looks vulnerable in future. I can certainly see it being traded away the next time UK invests in a ‘Medium Utility’ Rotorcraft, presumably determined ultimately by Merlin ‘s OOSD.

TAS
TAS
September 1, 2015 12:33 pm

TD, I’d rather not lose the range and endurance of the Merlin for the sake of some airframe economies. It is after all primarily an ASW aircraft and is very good at that. However, Green Merlin and Puma will need replacing IDC and as such a common type might be envisaged. Could something with sufficient capacity (in the NH90-class) fulfil that role whilst also being a decent attack (maritime or land) airframe? Or do you go down the UH/SH-60 route and end up with a cab that’s properly multi-role but just too small to perform decent troop lift? Bearing in mind that whilst Lynx can carry 4 pax, UH60 can carry only 11, Puma 20 and Merlin 30 (seated).

Personally I’d rather not see more conventional helicopter designs but something new. I would love to see the coaxial drivetrain from the S-97 Raider transplanted onto Wildcat. Adding speed and range to the cab would be very beneficial, and would prompt a re-think of maritime helicopter designs. Coaxial designs are very suitable for maritime operations as they dispense with the tailrotor (which is one of the key limitations in launching and recovering maritime helicopters). A coaxial Merlin would also have advantages. If I had to place a sensible request for the future of rotary aviation, I think this is it.

The Other Chris
September 1, 2015 12:33 pm

NH90 is definitely a “Merlin Light” and likely more successful because of it.

It would be difficult for us to give up the range/endurance of Merlin with the level of equipment being hauled now though: All that extra power for the likes of Crowsnest (not to mention safety element).

Perhaps this is where the common component call from AW/Italy for the 129/Puma replacement is something that should be looked at with an eye to 101 replacement as well rather than a horse-has-bolted Apache reaction. e.g. On paper those AVX plans seem very suitable for the UK on the surface (coaxial arrangement height permitting): Compact, powerful, efficient, payload bay. The pushers give you something to think about with regards the choice between speed/range and HOGE/dipper duration as well.

As for Wildcat, as APATS touched upon it’s useful where you can see 2-plus light helicopters being advantageous to deploy from one DD/FF.

TAS
TAS
September 1, 2015 12:37 pm

Have an exciting video to stimulate the mind.

https://youtu.be/SxSvsccwsXk

The Other Chris
September 1, 2015 12:40 pm

Great minds TAS :)