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BBC Report: UK Afghani Helos Not Safe

Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:13 am

How reliable is this info? For that matter, how reliable is the BBC as a source for defense related news?

Helicopters to be sent to Afghanistan may not be able to take part in combat because they lack adequate protection, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

Pilots are angry that six Merlins - due to go to Helmand in December - do not have Kevlar armour, the paper says.

"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
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BBC Report: UK Afghani Helos Not Safe

Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:34 pm

It's really about reflecting, maybe too hard, what is seen as the 'news agenda'.
The whole helicopter provisions subject is a hot issue right now.

It seems this is about additional protection above and beyond what already exists, not about money either, about how many mods can be done versus the need for additional frames out there ASAP.
The MoD favoring a more 'rolling' program, which would include equipment fitted in situ if there was not enough time to do so in the UK.
These crews (if this is true), wanting it all done before deployment.

Merlin's were deployed in Iraq, so mods against sand and self defence kit is not new.
While the environment in Afghanistan is different, being both hot and high, this is where I find the whole story odd.
Except news reports, including MoD statements, name the choppers as the 'Merlin Mk.3s'.
These are the six extra frames brought from the Danes, who then went and ordered replacements for themselves, probably with MoD funding.

These were selected as of all the export utility ones that might be available (meaning from other NATO members), they were the nearest overall to the existing RAF Merlin HC.2's.
Since these had both a SAR and utility role with the RDAF and as yet they not deployed them to combat zones, it might just be the work package they have to prep them for Afghanistan will take longer than expected, which clashes with statements by senior members of the government on 'busting a gut to get additional helicopters to Afghanistan'.

That's my take anyway.

It might also be a minor 'barracks revolt' from the RAF rank and file, remember they have had large crew losses from the C-130 downed in Iraq in 2005, which did not, despite a history of urgent requests for self sealing wing fuel tanks.
Then the Nimrod loss, caused mainly by the massive surge in use of the in flight refueling gear hastily fitted during the Falklands, but little used since, until the Afghan conflict, on an aging aircraft.
Or as The Who once sang, we won't get fooled again!
The government are after all, on the defensive with the whole issue of equipment, sometimes unfairly, other times not.
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BBC Report: UK Afghani Helos Not Safe

Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:07 pm

Quoting GDB (Reply 1):
It seems this is about additional protection above and beyond what already exists,

That's how I read it too. It must be a slow news day in the UK. Military people have a long and proud tradition of gripping about this or that. But if these same helios were used in Iraq, why are they not suited for Afghanistan?

I suspect they are.

The way I rerad it is these were long planned modifications to the Merlin Mk.3s and now just getting started. But, what is on them now works just fine.

The RAF should just deploy them and send the crews and maintenance with them, as scheduled.
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BBC Report: UK Afghani Helos Not Safe

Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:02 pm

Yes KC-135, since the large spike in British casualties last month, an inevitable political storm has occurred, where the battleground here is the media.
What media types will be doing then, is scanning more than usual various sites where UK service personnel and other interested parties have a presence.
So what would be normally innocuous threads now get a new significance, since this is the 'source' for the press.
Whereas before, it would be more footwork trying to glean info first person.

Or as I like to call it 'wiki-journalism'.
A decent background knowledge is not required for this, though Caroline Wyatt, the main BBC defence correspondent, in her reports is balanced and at least seems to regard knowledge and context as important in her broadcasts.
However she is a cog in a journalistic wheel, the unknowns who update news sites are often a different matter, and updated it must be!

The worst mainstream source is the broadsheet Daily Telegraph , it's just run too many non stories or exaggerations.
Politically motivated.

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