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Inefficient Use Of Military Airlifters  
User currently offlineKennyk From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 482 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 10 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3841 times:

I have been thinking of the UK use of C130s for almost every in theater air transport movement in support of Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not looking at Chinook or C-17 use as they are more of a short range tactical and strategic airlift capability respectively. What I am looking at is the use of C130s for almost every other transport requirement. The Hercs are used as the UKs workhorse for the vast majority of the tactical and in-theatre airlift, be it for moving maybe 2 to a 102 personnel, freight, 1 tonne up to 20 tonnes and light vehicles over ranges of from less than a hundred to thousands of miles.

Would it not be better if the UK purchased a small fleet, perhaps 8 or 10 C-27J Spartans in the short term to bolster the UK transport force with a more suitable aircraft better for in-theatre tasks where the Chinook is not suitable and the C-130 has too much capability. The aircraft uses the same engines as the C-130J and no doubt other similar systems.

Just an idea I thought I would throw into the ring what with A400s being late, the Chinook force being overworked as is the existing C-130 fleet. The UK is down one C-130J and the K fleet is dwindling away to not much more than double figures now.

Any thoughts?

3 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12173 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (4 years 10 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3836 times:

The RAF C-130s apparently are being used for the jobs they are intended. For those missions where few, if any troops are carried, or little or no cargo carried may be more to reposition the aircraft for upcoming missions than anything else. Or they may go to an outlying base with the primary mission of removing troops and cargo, so they fly near empty going one way. This is the same as the USAF and other C-130 users.

Buying C-27s may reduce some little or no cargo missions on the C-130s, but most of what the C-130 does today will continue. To add another aircraft type costs an Air Force money in training, maintenance and basing. That Air Force must justify the additional costs, needs and missions, so adding another type may not be easy. The RAF currently flys the C-130, C-17, and Chinooks, and plan to add the A-400M (currently, but that could change at any time). While the A-400M will replace the C-130K, the C-130J anmd C-130J-30 are here to stay for many decades. What mission would justify the need for a smaller tactical airlifter in numbers that can be used for the service life of the new airplane?


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13241 posts, RR: 77
Reply 2, posted (4 years 10 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3751 times:

The same thought crossed my mind when I saw the C-27J at the 2008 Farnborough show.

If not for line transport, but a few for Special Forces support, a role which some C-130's do now and where a smaller payload is not so important.
So these C-27J's would release some C-130's for regular line work.

Of course, apart from the usual budget issues, it would be another type in service, along with C-17, C-130K/J, A400M.
That will no doubt have caused plenty of adverse comment at the Treasury, who fought hard to resist the original C-17 4 aircraft lease.

What has happened is that in the mid 1970's, the RAF had VC-10's, C-130's, Andovers, Belfasts, Britannia's and some Comet 4's.
These were largely a legacy of the time when the UK maintained substantial garrisons in Singapore, Borneo, Hong Kong, Bahrain, Malta, Gibraltar and a mini tactical air force in Cyprus.
Between 1971-78 these largely disappeared, or in the cases of Hong Kong, Gibraltar and Cyprus, were reduced in size, most went in 1971 with some presence in Singapore and Malta until 1976 and 1978 respectively.
Staging posts to support these, such as Gan in the Indian Ocean went too.

What this did was to focus more heavily on the primary Cold War role in Europe, mostly Germany, with forces also to quickly deploy to the flanks such as Norway and the Mediterranean.
Starting to re-build UK air defence, the RN staying around the same size but now an Anti sub force in the Eastern Atlantic with again, some amphibious capability for those NATO flanks.

So the result of this was that the RAF transport fleet was rationalized, they had a large (60+) and fairly new C-130K fleet, the VC-10's still had a role to service remaining 'out of area' forces, support the NATO role, do the VIP, the rest was deemed surplus and they were expensive to run, including in manpower.
The C-130's would be busy supporting a reinforcement in NATO, both Germany and the flanks.
But most of the heavy equipment, to support and reinforce an armour heavy British Army Of the Rhine, would need to be seaborne.

There was that unexpected war in 1982, which resulted in more tanker and long range jet capacity to support the garrison afterward, in the shape of the ex BA L1011's, as the US developed it's Mid East focused 'Rapid Deployment Force' in the 1980's, there was some UK role there, exercises in Oman, mainly with paratroops and a few RAF combat jets, after a 15 year break occasionally happened, but this was still within the Cold War context.

The wall came down, Gulf War 1 happened, where the RAF transport fleet coped well enough, but after then the issues of C-130K and VC-10 replacements, both built in the 1960's, started to emerge.
A European solution for a C-130K replacement was years away, some of the by now very hard worked C-130's needed replacing sooner, both the 1991 Gulf War and the Falklands air-bridge had been particularly stressful on them.
So we got the only solution at the time, the C-130J to replace about half of the fleet. A very welcome boost.
It was known from the start that the C-130J would not meet all the requirements for the UK forces who had gone from the mainly European NATO role, to (or back to) 'Out Of Area'.
Hence the C-17 lease, later buy, then the A400M.

So we have gone almost full circle for the RAF transport aircraft fleet in a 30-40 year period, if anything the demands are harder now than when insurgences were being fought in the mid and far East during the 1960's, since these were near long established and very major bases, like Singapore.
Now it's all a bit more ad-hoc .

A small fleet of C-27J's would then make sense, in the SF support role or just general intra theater work like the US is planning. In both cases the in flight refueling probe would be needed, in the latter case to ease deployment.
But the only way to pay for them might just be if some were tacked on to the US order and a very good deal was struck.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12173 posts, RR: 51
Reply 3, posted (4 years 10 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3398 times:



Quoting GDB (Reply 2):
A small fleet of C-27J's would then make sense, in the AF Airlines (Argentina)">SF support role or just general intra theater work like the US is planning. In both cases the in flight refueling probe would be needed



Quoting GDB (Reply 2):
If not for line transport, but a few for Special Forces support, a role which some C-130's do now and where a smaller payload is not so important.
So these C-27J's would release some C-130's for regular line work.

That would be an option, I know the USAF was looking to do just that with a small fleet of AC-27Js, enhancing the AC-130 fleet for the AF Airlines (Argentina)">SF guys. The ANG was also looking to buy some C-27Js, I believe, too. But I think both programs are on hold now, or maybe even dropped.


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