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New Support Helicopters For The RAF  
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13606 posts, RR: 76
Posted (9 years 2 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 5637 times:

In the past few years, the long under capitalised RAF support Helicopter fleet, has been under strain.
With deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, the only recently ended deployment to Kosovo, as well as routine commitments.
(I remember a Flight International editorial, castigating the Ministry Of Defence on the size of the UK military chopper fleet - but this was in 1986!)

This has been made worse by the botched procurement of Special Ops support Chinook HC.3's, a well reported scandal, where all parties, the MoD, Boeing, the RAF and the US DoD, came out badly due to issues of specifications, software etc.

After much speculation - including the general media claiming civil choppers would be pressed into battlefield service, a medium term solution, at a frankly bargain price, has been agreed.
As some predicted, the Royal Danish AF, will provide 6 of their brand new EH-101 Merlin's. (It seems delivery and crew training have not been aligned, in any case, the Danes will go and buy one for one replacements for the ones going to the UK).
Adding to the 22 already in RAF service.
Also the fact that the Danes are a good ally, has made this possible, with a short time to deployment too.

Those 8 stored Chinook HC.3's, will at last, be brought up to a general battlefield standard, for support operations.

Here is the MoD press release, with lots of related links and a video;

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineConnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (9 years 2 months 4 days ago) and read 5620 times:


That's terrific news for the RAF and Army who need the support !

I well remember the HC.3 fiasco in the 90s --- what a cock-up, as the saying goes.
Am assuming the HC.3s will indeed go to Special Ops. ??

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13606 posts, RR: 76
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5615 times:

No, it seems that they'll be outfitted to the usual standard as the rest of the fleet-though I'm not sure if they have the enlarged fairings of the US Army Special Ops machines.
Perhaps at a later date...

User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12367 posts, RR: 51
Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 5529 times:

This is a step in the right direction for the RAF. But, they need more new helios and airplanes. Now, the RN needs a lot of attention (money), too. How can you guys in the UK let your politicians get away with this crap. Yes, I know, we "Yanks" do it too.

User currently offlineConnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 5515 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
This is a step in the right direction for the RAF. But, they need more new helios and airplanes. Now, the RN needs a lot of attention (money), too. How can you guys in the UK let your politicians get away with this crap. Yes, I know, we "Yanks" do it too.

Not just the Brits, TopBoom. In my country, defense spending is a dirty word. Has been for about 40 years.
I happen to be a liberal, but a Liberal with a robust sense of national defense (that might include the US too).
We're currently spending at about $15B CDN but I think this needs to go towards $20B shortly with the
emphasis on:

--replacemement of CC-115 Bufflalos for SAR
--conversion of all CC-140 Polaris to MRTT role
--get all CF-188A upgraded
--new fleet resupply vesseal
--replace all 4 DDGs with Aegis equiv platforms
--expand the Army (target -> 75K active)

This costs a bundle. But if you want to walk on the world stage, there is an ante.
But if you ask me to pay the taxes, I will.

The nuclear subs in the 1980s were a much better investment.
Christ I like working on that.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13606 posts, RR: 76
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5463 times:

A fair point KC-135, however, even with all that's happened in the past few few years, defence is not as high up on the political agenda here.
Whilst the UK still has a very substantial defence industry, employing 100's of 1000's, there is not the lobbying power from politicians as in the US, sure they lobby, BAE Systems are far from silent either, as we have seen, but it is to nowhere near the extent of the USA, or indeed, even France.
(I rate our forces equipment wise in better shape than France in many areas. They've one big carrier, for the next few years, it's refitting means they'll have none. They've never had a medium lift chopper, the RN want 8 Type 45 Destroyers, they might only get 6, the French Navy is getting just 2 of their version, to a lower spec in some areas. The Frigate force is better, as is the transport/tanker force).

To be fair, the current government, is nowhere the worst post war in this area. Whilst we are spending too little (2.3% GDP), it has improved a bit since 2000, (compared to the years 1986-99). It took a change of government to actually do a proper post Cold War review, in 1998. The government in 1990 having flunked a once in 50 year opportunity then.
All they did was salami slicing, just much bigger slices then usual.

The late Alan Clark MP, a maverick Tory, better known here for his very colourful personal life and very indiscreet diaries published after he left government, was a junior minister at the MoD in 1990. He was also a military historian and all round defence expert.
He somewhat exceeded his authority in late 1989/early 1990, by turning a paper on near term procurement priorities, into a short but radical review, to in his words, 're-jig the forces so they can for example, defend the Bahrain corridor.
Also adding, 'mine is the only way we can retain military clout without going bust'.

His review was spiked by his boss, it had infuriated service chiefs whose careers had either been forged in the British Army Of the Rhine or countering the Soviet Navy.
But just weeks later, Saddam invaded Kuwait, but in those reaches of power, being proved right is not a way to advance a career, though in truth, Clark himself was too colourful for a full cabinet post as Defence Sec.

But the review under Labour, the 1998 one, though mirroring Clark's in many ways, was not fully funded, and that was before Iraq, Afghanistan etc.
But then, they never are, the infamous 1957 one, which so damaged the aircraft industry, never saw the large forces of SAM's, IRBM's etc, at least not much above what was already planned.

I would like to see a rise in the next three year across government review, from 2008-which covers everything, to 2.5% reaching 2.8% by the end of that period. Then after this has seen the big ticket items like the carriers, F-35, through the peak spending stages, settle back to 2.5% for the next review.
What has been happening, is the contingency fund chucking £1-2 billion every year or so, with additional near half billion last week, to cover running costs of deployments.

The likely new PM, Chancellor Gordon Brown, has a lot of jobs in his political back yard, reliant on the carriers, Destroyers and other warships, no coincidence I suspect, that long delayed progress here is being reported as imminent.

The press however, often speak with a forked tongue, in many cases, their sudden concern about shortages, funding, is more about opposition to Iraq, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan,
Recently, senior service chiefs have been a lot more frank in public, over what they require.

Back to helicopters, there is a medium term need to replace the RN's Sea King HC.4 support choppers, and the RAF's Pumas.
The obvious choice is the Merlin HC.3, though a well received procurement/industrial policy document in late 2005-at last there IS a policy here, already committed the current fleet to improvements to that standard, as well as last year, getting the Army and Navy Lynx light helicopters massively upgraded.

But the grass is not always greener, the USMC CH-46 machines, roughly in the same role as the Sea King HC.4's, are 15-20 years older than the RN machines.

This current deal, gets a decent sized boost to pressing needs, to service all within two years, at only £230 million, the MoD did a good deal here, don't expect much press coverage.

User currently offlineBongodog1964 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 4307 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5238 times:

I like the quote from Des Browne the defence secretary "this is the best possible outcome for Uk forces"

6 new Merlins this year, and 8 Chinooks to arrive in 2 years (8 years behind schedule). If this is the best possible outcome; I assume the worst possible would have been an order to walk.

Surely some degree of forward planning is called for; in particular the procurement of a decent sized order to ensure that panic measures aren't needed in future.

If the announcement had been for 6 Merlins now, and say 50 at 10/year commencing in 2009, this might have justified the quote.

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13606 posts, RR: 76
Reply 7, posted (9 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 5224 times:

Well it IS really, because though we DO need more support choppers now, you'd not get any into service within two years going out and buying new, like the required Merlin Mk.3's.

New vehicles like the armoured Mastiff, can and have been delivered within months, but not so for aviation assets.

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