Guidance: Allied joint doctrine for recovery of personnel in a hostile environment (AJP-3.7)

Recovery of personnel is a joint responsibility which embraces a wide range of situations requiring different levels of responses.

Member nations provide NATO with the personnel and assets necessary to carry out NATO operations. In its turn, NATO must ensure there are means available to recover personnel under its responsibility who have become isolated. In the same vein, troop contributing nations must ensure their personnel have been appropriately trained and equipped to assist in their own recovery.

NATO has the responsibility of establishing an architecture capable of recovering the personnel who have become isolated while participating in NATO operations. This document provides the fundamental principles for the recovery of personnel in a hostile environment, during North Atlantic Council approved NATO operations, taking into account national responsibilities and considerations.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK

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46 Responses

  1. So, now we know. The rambling and deliberately vague document posted by the Ministry of Defence on March 30 2016 cannot hide the fact that the Royal Air Force has no dedicated combat search and rescue capability. – the UK will just hope that in an emergency, another Nato member might be available to rescue downed UK aircrew. That is totally unnacceptable. Compare this, for example, to the USAF CSAR units on permanent standy, or to the French Air Force Commando de l’Air CSAR capabilities.

  2. @TOC

    I think a Blackhawk like airframe would be a decent compromise to have, if we could afford at least enough airframes to cover the support helicopter and attack helicopter roles rather than just buying enough to replace the Apache. The Wildcat is unfortunately not that airframe.

  3. TD posted a story a while back of an British Army Apache gunship being used to extract a wounded solider in Afghanistan with two solider’s clinging to the outside as it was the only thing available. Lesson learnt , I think not.
    On purchasing a utility helicopter over a gunship I too would favour the versatility of a utility airframe over the mission specific gunship. If the NH90 is sorted now it could be built in ciderland as Augusta Westland are involved in the consortium that builds them without to much trouble I would think. Perhaps the model the Swedish bought with the extra hight cabin.

  4. For decades our CSAR force comprised of just extra training for some crew JHF, particularly the Chinook force (mostly those involved with SF duties) – it has been this way for some considerable time, the argument being better using whatever available with crews aware of CSAR routines, than having the cost of dedicated specialist units/airframes taking up resources, although the RAF Regiment has finally began to take the role after lessons from Afghanistan’s’ aeromedical evacuation/force protection roles.

    Now that the helicopter demand has diminished, slightly, there could be reason to believe the Chinook force could take it up for seriously.

  5. What about the Puma MK22 force? Last I see on twitter, they are training in the US in desert conditions

  6. Budgets are obviously tight, but it’s impossible to hide from the fact that pretty much every report on Iraq/afgan highlighted the lack of appropriate helicopters.

    Considering that, I am surprised that the army didn’t push for more platforms during the SDSR, it would seem to have been an easy argument for them to win. A handful of blackhawks wouldn’t have cost a huge amount of money, but would have given a greater degree of flexibility, should we end up in the position of another counter insurgency war.

  7. Interesting. Along with many others I had assumed that there would be no British V-22 becuase of all the money having gone on Chinooks and Merlins. I’d assumed we would then be shopping for thatever the latest American tiltrotor is some time after 2030

    Once there is a UK capability up and running how long before a requirment emerges for a small number of airframes to fly from the Carriers: Crowsnest, Utility Transport, even ASW at greater range and persistance than Merlin can achieve…? We are clearly short of HM2 so a case could be made.

  8. If that is true it is excellent news, although let’s not get too carried away about other uses yet…

  9. The problem with dual role helicopters is that the desire to use them as a pure gunship is very high, not to mention their roles and training is very, very different. A gunship pilot would be inculcated with an aggressive (fairly) mentality and doctrine while a CSAR would be conservative and prioritize risk avoidance. Splitting into a gunship/utility helicopter fleet would keep the roles clear and avoid the problem of finding out that your transport echelon was out playing wack-a-tank when they were needed to move troops and supplies or vice versa.

    Not to say there isn’t good points about the V-22 too, for example, the speed is very impressive, but overall, I would say the streamlining of training and roles has much better utility than having a gunship/transport helicopter. Which is a really ironic stance for me considering I support fighter/bombers, but the difference between tank hunting and CSAR is a bit too drastic to bridge easily.

  10. @Steve
    “A handful of Blackhawks” means a whole new type, which means a whole new training/logistics chain and is never, ever cheap. For instance, eight years ago four SAR Blackhawks cost Egypt $176m :

    So these days you would be looking at over $50m each in effect, you might as well just buy Merlins.

    So I do have some sympathy with the “distributed CSAR” approach – it’s reminiscent of putting Alarms on every Tonka rather than having dedicated Wild Weasel aircraft. It may not be ideal, but in the current budget environment, it’s probably the best we can do. As another example of where the crabs are at, the Luftwaffe are flying a squadron of Tranche 3a Tiffies, whereas we’re putting them in storage. Not a completely stupid idea – use up the hours on the Tranche 1’s in particular and then junk them rather than maintain more airframes in service and have to upgrade them, but it does reduce the number we can call on at short notice.

    Also the USMC have reduced their expected usage of the F-35B from 400h/year to 350h/year, stretching out the life expectancy by a few more years. Not clear whether that’s purely budget driven or what, but

    Wouldn’t surprise me if the hooligans got V-22 – but at the same time it is the Mail reporting it. Compare their other big bit of defence news today : “RAF splashes £2.6billion on nine new spy planes that can hack terrorists’ calls and emails”. Yes, they’ve just noticed that we’re buying P-8.

    Whilst vaguely on the subject of ASW planes, Lockheed are talking about selling more refurb S-3’s, to Vietnam, another Asian country (Philippines?), and a South American country on top of the existing deal with Korea.

    Few other recent articles on Janes : contract has been awarded to study Brimstone 2 on AH-64E, with a test shot later this year :

    Sea Venom has entered flight qualification, although first full flight won’t be for another 18 months and first firing from a Wildcat won’t be until 2018/19 :

    Qatar have signed an MOU for an expected $725m order for truck-launched Marte-ER :

    APKWS II is now in the field with AV-8B in Bahrain (as opposed to Apache and MH-60) :

  11. I’m not sure anyone mentioned using them as a gunship. Our rotary gunships are Apache and (Naval)Wildcat.

  12. Whether UKSF picks up V-22 has no real relevance to what direction the wider armed forces might take. Like the A109 and Dauphin, they operate whatever they want within their own budget.

    It has though been recently reported, citing Boeing sources, that the French navy and Royal Navy have both been looking at Osprey for the carrier onboard delivery role. Neither navy has a suitable and dedicated aircraft; the French were assisted by USN Greyhounds during the Libyan campaign.

    The USN will be receiving an extended range variant of the V-22 to replace the Greyhound from 2018 to ’20; but 2016 is a key budget point for the purchase, so it’s speculated that if the UK and France want to operate the same role variant, they’ll make a commitment soon so as to enable their small orders to be tacked onto the USN order thereby helping to keep procurement costs down.

  13. @Mark

    Makes perfect sense to operate the T1’s in the air-defence role and keep the others focused on offensive capabilities as a Tornado replacement.

    I hope we’ll see more than 24 T1’s kept in service though and that the figure quoted in the article only refers to the front-line squadron strength.

    I mean it’s hardly surprising that they’ll want or even need to put some of the others in storage and cannibalise them to keep the active fleet going, and some others like the 2 seat trainers are unsuited to QRA work anyway, but even so another 4 will be needed in The Falklands and surely some kind of reserve element is prudent, even if it’s just to guard against technical faults, accidents etc.

  14. ‘UK RAF shows interest in Voyager boom’

    So more money for ‘Extras’ on the Voyager. You’ve got to admit those PFI aircraft were a bargain!

  15. The funding for a boom on Voyager does not necessarily come entirely from the MOD budget alone. Last year, Airtanker approached the MOD and NATO, which itself has an refuelling capacity shortfall and many members waiting for MRTT’s to enter service.

    “Ultimately it is an MoD decision [whether to fit the boom or not], as they control the configuration of the aircraft,” [AirTanker] said, adding “But why would the MoD say no if there is some other third party funding it? It just makes sense all round.”

  16. ‘come entirely from the MOD budget alone’

    So we will only be paying a proportion for the fitting and then constantly paying for the privilege of it’s use thereafter.

    [AirTanker] said, adding “But why would the MoD say no if there is some other third party funding it? It just makes sense all round.”

    Well they would wouldn’t they. Who is not going to try and sell this as a good deal if it means your initial investment is part funded by the two parties you are going to charge for it’s use over a prolonged period.

  17. Kuwait sort of balances out the Qatari deal for 24 Rafale + 12 options, which finally completed last week. One interesting aspect of that deal is that it’s largely being financed by Japanese banks :

    Michael Fallon was claiming last week that Qatar might yet buy some Tiffies :
    “said he had held discussions on a possible sale with Qatari officials within the past week. He added that the deal had not been killed off by a Qatari decision to buy 24 Rafale jets from France. “It’s definitely still on the table,” said Fallon…Asked if the French deal could scupper the prospective British sale, Fallon responded: “No”.”

    Qatar owe us a few favours given how much of London we’ve let them buy, and if the Japanese are taking the strain of financing it, it might yet happen, even if it makes no sense to have two aircraft that are so similar in their force.

  18. Don’t know about military practicalities, but sharing the juicy contracts around helps when Qatar want us not to complain too much about them supporting wrongish groups in Syria, Libya etc……

  19. @TD

    The announcement marks a small change in direction which suggests we need to keep an eye out and update what we know of the enhancement program.

    Other than the testing cycle, the largest expense in qualifying Meteor on the aircraft is to integrate a datalink processing card that connects Meteor to the CAPTOR-C.

    Think the Strongbow program – which was to apply what used to be considered Drop 4 code to Tranche 1 – is defunct now, however there was work done and there may be elements that can be applied.

    One obvious question is do the QRA squadrons need Meteor (clearly not Tranche 3A/B features such as the Aerodynamic Modification Kit) to perform the air defence role? Is AIM-120C-7 (later D) sufficient for visitors to the UK and Falklands? There’ll be thoughts that there’s always the upcoming Meteor equipped Tranche 2 and 3’s to top up or “surge” if needed.

    I’m worried about our track record when splitting fleets in this way though. We’ve traditionally retired the neglected sub fleet early without replacement.

    Having said this, there’s always the chance we’ll take onboard historical lessons. If the squadrons are to be stand alone air defence moving forward, there’s a chance the focus will be on the squadron instead of the sub-fleet we’ll invest in upgrades and replacements of their aircraft over time.

    The good news from an aircraft TLC point of view is our Tranche 1’s are just about as up to date as is possible for that tranche and the UK has form in progressing UK-only Change Proposals (later refined and rolled out to some partners) on the Block 5’s.

  20. This is a couple of years old, but the July 2014 issue of Janes International Defence Review, had an article “Airbus DS to offer upgraded A330 MRTT Enhanced”. It said that from 2017, the Boom Upgrade 3 should be available. This should sort out the problems the RAAF had with their Booms.

  21. On Qatar and selling them high agility fighters (amongst many other weapons ) and their well know links to Sunni terrorists , smashing idea , don’t let anything get in the way of a good business deal to keep a few garlic munchers in a job eh!
    What could be better you might ask ? Why not give them access to nuclear ? It only fair as that other well known Sunni terrorist sponsoring nation next door are getting it too.
    What could possibly go wrong , state overthrow by an extremist political party? As if! There is no historical precedent for that in the region , well except Iran ( remember the Shah?) , Syria , Lebanon , Palestine ( now mostly known as Israel , except a few bits ) Libya and Egypt doing the hokey cokey,out,in,out… except for those :-(

  22. The majority of the RAF operated A330 are three-point tankers, so there was presumably some calculation prior to excluding a boom refueling point that determined the number of tankers required to service the mass of aircraft with probes.

    Folks see the exclusion of boom refueling as a deficiency, but the logical assumption is that if the RAF operated 2+1drogue & boom combinations rather than 3 drogue points, then they would need to operate a notably larger fleet of tankers just to service the small jets. On the other hand, the large aircraft requiring boom refueling are relatively few, and individually tend to place less demand on the tankers anyway due to their greater endurance.

    AirTanker are on about converting one or more of the five non-core aircraft that they operate; but they would still need to meet the surge requirements of the RAF which may or may not have been calculated to require three-point drogue tankers.

    AirTanker have purely selfish commercial motivation to fit booms to some of its fleet. In relative terms, industry forecasts predict air passenger capacity up, and demand down, and a related decrease in profit per passenger for commercial air travel.

    AirTanker have worked out that there is more profit to be had through military lease than through leasing to Thomas Cook and the like. The MoD’s priority should be ensuring that AT’s proposed new model continues to meet RAF requirements.

    Also, AT modifying any of the five non-core aircraft for alternative military lease does not necessarily result in savings for the RAF. Just as RAF personnel cannot just hop aboard a Thomas Cook airline and travel for free, if AT are flying those five aircraft in a tanker role, the RAF will have to pay to receive their service just like any other NATO customer.

  23. Yes Qatar are just about the loopiest of the Sunni regimes in the Gulf. The Saudis get pretty pissed off with them at times for the support they give to the Jihadis .

  24. As effectively the first customer for the a330 tanker if we had gone for the boom then no doubt we would of ended up paying to fix the issues with it. So maybe not entirely a bad thing that fitting the boom is delayed until others stumped up the money.

    The rational at the time was they didn’t want to add the support and training required if a boom was fitted. As only one type in the RAF actively used the boom option the E3D Sentry AEW.1 and the C17 had the long range fuel tanks installed giving it the ability to fly to locations like the Falklands via Ascension then not a bad set of thinking. I did speak to an RAF Sentry pilot a few years back about this at RIAT and he told me they wish that they had been consulted on this decision as they much prefer tanking off a boom equipped tanker.

    Things are rather changed now, with the E3D Sentry AEW.1 staying in service for at least another ten to fifteen years, the RC135W in service and the upcoming introduction of the P8a which won’t get a probe going on the current information. Getting some boom equipped tankers starts being more attractive.

    Speculative announcements like this are not really speculative IMHO, clearly there is a desire to get the capability now and it is a matter of when budgets align. This is setting the gentle ground to save face if the decision to fit booms to some of the tankers go ahead. By the sounds of it they are thinking of the Voyager KC.2 which is rather logical as they only have the wing mounted 905E refuelling pods.

    The key to all of this is the French! They have just ordered a large fleet of boom equipped A330, this takes away the training issue for the Tanker Consortium (maybe even some of the logistics) and the RAF. Boom operators can be trained in France using their facilities with some reciprocal agreements about resource sharing. One possible reciprocal agreement is heavy maintenance and training, there is a lovely large maintenance and training facility at Brize for the A330 tanker.

  25. @toymaker1

    Not really true toymaker1, the UK does not have a dedicated CSAR type but does train for it with the available helicopters in service.

  26. There’s five 3 point tankers the rest are 2 point tankers and would most likely be candidates for a boom. Why the interest now one suspects that as a new modern reliable aircraft is now in use and fastjet numbers greatly reduced there is quite a bit of spare capacity that other European nations may like to use but they need a boom.

  27. We faffed for so long about with how we would finance the airtanker deal that Australia were the launch customer for mrtt. They fixed the boom early last year and have been using it on operations since late last year.

  28. From what I can gather, Airbus designed the A330 Boom for small fast jets i.e F-16 class, then the Australians wanted to refuel large aircraft (C-17, P-8, etc.) , so an upgrade was needed.

  29. JH

    No don’t think so the initial problem was the boom not remaining attached to the aircraft. The next problem was this was a fly by wire boom (operator sits in the cockpit uses cameras etc to fly the boom as opposed to lying looking out a window at the back of the plane) and the software was proving problematic in certain flight regimes.

  30. The A330 MRTT uses three different kinds of refuelling systems.
    1/ Cobham 905E Under-wing Pods provide simultaneous Hose and Drogue refuelling at a fuel offload rate 1300 kg/min – 420 US gal/min
    2/ Cobham 805E Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) at a fuel offload rate of 1800 kg/min – 600 US gal/min
    3/ EADS Ariel Boom Refuelling System (ABRS) at a offload rate of 3600 kg/min – 1200 US gal/min
    The centreline fuselage choice is for want you want to refuel with us requiring the centreline to be a drogue on some at least to service the new A400M and the retained Hercules fleet.
    P8A will need a boom in its present configuration as does C-17 , Sentry and Rivet Joint. If we go down the 737 route for Sentry’s and Rivet Joint’s in the far future they will still probably need a boom as USAF will pay for their design. Oh and the half dozen MH-47G we should buy pictured on TD’s post above as I want one.

  31. @SD

    Was the central fuselage unit for refueling other planes or for refueling the MRTT itself? I can’t quite figure out how you can have a different unit for the centerline when a boom offloading system is already there. The only way I can think of is that one is an intake and the other is an outlet.

  32. The centerline fuselage drogue units don’t really stick out much. It’s just a hole out of which a hose is reeled right behind the plane. Both the A330 and 767 tankers with booms also have or can have the centerline fuselage drogue setup as well as the wing mounted drogues.

    A decent picture of it on the 767 platform here. You probably couldn’t make use of the boom and centerline drogue at same time.

  33. @Jeremy

    Ah, I see, so the usage is either/or. There were reports that the ones we were getting had a unit to refuel/transfer(?) fuel from a MRTT to another MRTT, it had a string of alphabets, think it was something like URAAIS or something like that. (No, don’t try to read that as a word… seriously, don’t. :P )

  34. The April 2016 issue of Air International, reports on the 10 February trial of a RAAF KC-30A MRTT that successfully refuelled a USAF C-17 at Edwards AFB. “During the five hour mission, 39 contacts were made & 6800 kg of fuel was transferred, using the KC-30A’s Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS)”.

  35. Observer

    I think your thinking of the universal aerial refuelling receptacle slipway installation (UARRSI). It’s installed above and slightly behind the cockpit to allow fuel to be received. It is not fitted to RAF a/c

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