Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
The Ministry of Defence is preparing plans to begin ordering £3billion-worth of helicopters over the next 10 years.
Vertical market: the Lynx helicopter, pictured here on an operation in Iraq, is one of the aircraft in need of replacement
Lord Bach, defence procurement minister, is overseeing the process to determine how many and what types of helicopters are needed to replace the ageing Lynx, Puma and Gazelle.
The MoD plans to inform aircraft manufacturers of its requirements by the end of the year, in what is expected to be one of Europe's biggest helicopter contracts and a key part of the transformation of the British military to a rapid-reaction force.
Defence planners are weighing up the balance between troop transport, reconnaissance and attack aircraft. Once the review is completed, manufacturers will be invited to tender. The world's largest helicopter companies, AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Sikorsky, are following the process closely.
"We are working with industry on our forward plans and we aim to review progress by the end of the year," said an MoD spokesman. "It will be for industry to make the most of the opportunities."
Even though the MoD said it would take into account "UK economic factors", most of the £3billion appears destined for foreign companies. Italian military contractor Finmeccanica is in the process of buying out Britain's only helicoper company, Westland, which is part of the AgustaWestland Group. The Italians already own half the business.
AgustaWestland, which has a factory in Somerset, wants Britain to buy the Future Lynx, a small helicopter good for reconnaissance. The aircraft is an upgrade of the Lynx, which has been a key asset of the Royal Navy and Army for decades. Geoff Russell, AgustaWestland spokesman, said: "As the UK's only helicopter manufacturer, we would hope to get a significant proportion of that business."
A consortium led by Eurocopter is pitching the NH-90, a troop transport that can carry 20 soldiers. America's Sikorsky is expected to offer its heavy transport, the CH-53 Super Stallion. The NH-90 has a light, carbon-glassfibre frame, which is less vulnerable than traditional steel frames to corrosion from salt sea air.
Alain Gauthier, commercial director of NH Industries, which makes the NH-90, says Britain is considering buying 100 helicopters for what it calls ISTAR purposes - intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance.
IIRC there are likely to be two major procurements in the mid term future - one probably for a single platform to replace the Lynx from both services and a second to augment the current SH force as the SK and the Puma become increasingly. The article seems to suggest a single type is being sought and I am not sure that this is the case.
There are still, theoretically, the following requirements:
BLUH Battlefield Light Utility Helicopter (Army requirement for Lynx replacement, encompassing utility, ISTAR, direction of fire for AH roles - Future Lynx selected). SCMR Surface Combatant (Navy requirement for Lynx replacement, encompassing ASuW, ISTAR, Future Lynx selected for commonality). SABR Support Amphibious Battlefield Rotorcraft (Purple requirement for Puma/Sea King Commando replacement - still undecided, with arguments ongoing as to the likely type mix, or even whether separate SABR light and SABR heavy aircraft will be required. Marinised Chinook and Merlin mix thought most likely prior to recent White Paper).
The reduction in the future rotorcraft EP from £4.2 Bn to £3.1 Bn has not been officially revealed as a reduction (the new, lower figure was revealed as though it represented additional new money). The re-tailoring of existing requirements which a £1 Bn cut will make necessary are yet to be revealed.
The 'Future Lynx for BLUH/SCMR' solution could still be overturned, perhaps with EC135/635 or H-6 for the ISTAR/DF part of BLUH, NH90 for the utility part (and for SABR light) and with SCMR disappearing altogether, with existing RN Merlins going over to small ship ASuW (seriously!) and with Chinook for SABR heavy.
This was all reported as Hoon revealed his plans, even the Dailies taking an interest since it would have a disastrous effect on Westland.
This story does not look to be based on anything new, unless you know otherwise.....
It's not my plan. I'm just reporting what I'm hearing. Personally I'm a great fan of the fast, quiet, capacious Merlin (and I'm unconvinced that its payload is as modest as some Chinook fans always infer), but my understanding is that the green Merlins will become yellow - not literally, but figuratively.
Bit off topic but I'd like an opinion of what actual role ** Sqn have, is it battlefield supply? jpr ? trash hauling ? It seems that there's a fine bunch of people at ** who aren't able to do much due to current limitations on the airframe, logistics timelines ect.. Got to feel sorry for people who have to fight for an airtest just to get any hours up..
Imho it's a great cab with great crews and maintainers who do an admirable job with little resources.
I would have thought it likely that if Merlin were to become yellow it would be a literal rather than a figurative transformation.
And I fail to understand why an aircraft originally conceived in the 1950's is now capable of lifting it's own weight while a 1980's aircraft can only manage just under half it's own weight. Perhaps that third engine is just too much...
Location: Anywhere there's ships and aircraft available
As a 500 hr plus Merlin driver I think there is a lot of common sense being written here (which makes a chnage when you get into the Merlin SH debate).
There is no doubt that the aircraft is a good CSAR platform with plenty of legs and capacity. Aditionally the Mk3 has probably got the only wire cutters of all UK aircraft types (correct me if I am wrong, please).
It is not a heavy lifter and was never claimed to be so but it outdoes the Sea King. Theire are only 2 true heavy lifters in the world and they are streaks ahead of the rest - CH47 and CH53.
Keeping aside from the US presidential debate the Merlin or US101 has a real chance of getting the USAF CSAR role which is up for grabs.
As for affording it, the aircraft is already fitted with a FLIR (which admitedly could be better) and reasonable DAS (the same as Apache).
I don't think we can always rely on the Yanks to rescue our guys especially when George W decides its got nothing to with him.
Not knowing a great deal about RAF replacements I will leave it alone.
But the Army has a number of jobs that need attention, obviously the Apache has taken care of the Anti Armour role. But what are we to do with the ageing Lynx fleet and the very old Gazelle.
Both of these are being used as ISTAR assets, and I'm sure are still doing a very good job. But in the interests of economy, serviceability and survivability maybe something newer with updated avionics and DAS would fit quite nicely into this very different world since 9/11.
Any suggestions to MOD procurements. Don't expect a reply!!
Just think of the savings in time and money that we could garner from doing away with requirements, OA, gates (of all sorts) and while we're at it, get rid of the DPA and DLO.
And you ensure that the front line gets what is needed, in an affordable timely fashion and which works, by... how, exactly?
Yes, there are many, fundamental, changes required, and the various bright ideas over the last 20 or more years have hardly cut the mustard. But a simplistic "bin everything" approach is hardly likely to do anything but screw procurement up even more spectacularly; and yes, that's certainly possible.
The most important thing to get right is to come up with a decent, realistic, and properly specified requirement. Then stick to it. Moving the goalposts, and unrealistic specifications in the first place, are the two major headings under which you can file the reasons for failed Procurement, IMHO.
As an aside to Si Clik:
Aditionally the Mk3 has probably got the only wire cutters of all UK aircraft types (correct me if I am wrong, please).
Is it true that the reasoning behind not fitting wire cutters to Armed Forces Helicopters, was to stop or at least make crews think twice about flying too lowand making the crew concentrate a bit harder on are there any wires?
If its true, it ranks up there with "I know lets walk towards the machine guns", if it is just an urban myth, good one!
Despite all that I have recently heard that Wastelands are no longer interested in the future Lynx or anything else for that matter. So that does leave the MOD's options open to buy something or things off the shelf. Also COMR is a very real option for those of us not in the SH fleet, sorry Chinook Mk3 swallowing up all the money and Merlin is pants, so I hear.
PS what all this "Freak" thing about with the Merlin boy's and girls?
Now Wastelands is no longer going to be a British company (being bought out by Finmeccanicockup), will Mr Blair really care about awarding huge contracts to the Italians, who have not shown much support for his war on whatever it is this week!
The money could be better spent on ensuring his best mate Dubya brings a much needed boost to the faltering US aircraft industry
Payback for the yanks buying US101.
Of course any deal might involve assembly under licence in Yeovil, which would then degrade the quality of assembly and put us back to square one.
Last edited by wheresthewessexgone?; 11th Oct 2004 at 08:01.
Ok so the Puma/Sea King Replacement the RAF want Chinook and the Booties want a SH with the capability of Chinook.
Slight problem are the lifts on Ocean, Argus, Invincible etc big enough to take Chinook even without blades? Are the hangers high enough or have the space to manouver the Chinook for maintenence?
If not how much extra cost will be added refitting the Amphibious fleet for Chinook.
Merlin is already at sea with the Royal and Italian Navies.
As to CSAR we need the capability we have relied to long on the Spams and the Frogs to provide it. And I would say the Navy is the best service to provide it.
1.they have the best helecopter pilots in the UK armed forces 2.They have some of the Best Role 1-2 medics in the UK armed forces 3.They have the best and most adaptable light role specialised infantry in the UK armed forces. 4. I would say most of our CSAR ops will have to be launched from a ship. (maybe a secondry role for Argus?)
BTW have we any possibility of getting AAR capability for the Merlin/Chinook like probes and a Tanker aircraft?
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Nurse - the A400M will provide the AAR capability to the SH force....in a 'few' years time.
All A400M Common Standard Aircraft are required to be capable of being re-roled to the tanker role with either 2 pods plus additional cargo bay tanks, or a centreline hose plus an additional cargo bay tank within a 'few' hours. Always assuming that A400M and role kit are in the same location, of course!
NURSE I assume you are fully qualified to state who are the best pilots in the UK armed forces - I'm not but methinks there are elements of blue touch paper and retirement
The RN along with their Army and RAF colleagues have excellent medics. However, I believe that the RAF have been given the responsibility for CSAR hence the requirement for a significant number of RAF medics undertaking State Registered Paramedic training.