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.
Might be wrong but I thought that the UH60M's operating in AFG are not the full production model that was being touted to the ADF. I think that they are yet to field the fly-by-wire production model.
The ADF, by the sounds of it, should have stuck with Wessex (tried and proven in the ASW, Littoral (Falklands) roles), the S51 from the 1950's and the Sioux (plenty of parts and the supercharged version had fantastic H&H performance and easy to get fuel for at your local servo). What 'real' benefits could technology offer?
Have been off this forum for a year or so and a friend requested I contribute to this thread, so herewith some input.
The major arms manufacturers have been hugely overpricing all of their products and bribing nations into purchases, mainly through industry offset deals. In this murky 'arms bazaar', the outrageous unit costs of hardware and particularly operating costs have been more or less shrugged off by defence planners.
Australia has a 'defence industry policy' not a 'military preparedness policy' because in-service military assets have generally not been progressively optimised to maintain continuous adequate military capacity and credibility. Had Kiowa, Iroquois, Blackhawk all been progressively upgraded, then the ADF could have provided broader integral helo support in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now of course, there are serious force capability gaps.
Lets consider Australian dollar operating costs per flying hour for 2006/07 provided to ASPI by Defence (see ASPI Special Report 21):
RAN Fleet Air Arm: Seahawk - $45,317; Sea King - $23,616; Squirrel - $5,208. Army Aviation: Blackhawk - $20,659; Iroquois - $7,738; Kiowa - $2,865
The higher than normal Hotel model Iroquois operating costs were explained as due to reduced flying on phase out from service. For comparison, a civilian medevac twin-engine Bell 412 operator provided an hourly cost of $5,755. Bell Helicopter claims single-engine operating costs for Huey II to be 30 percent less than for Hotel model Iroquois so arguably below $5,000 per hour if actively utilised. Who knows what operating costs will be for Tiger, MRH-90, MH-60R, but likely to be prodigious!
Hot and high performance is fundamental in Australia's regional tropical archipelago environs, as for Iraq and Afghanistan, and tropical trialling was once undertaken before aircraft acquisitions were confirmed; but this essential performance requirement was apparently not first validated for Tiger and MRH-90 so what is their capability in this regard? The Huey II can hover in ground effect at maximum operating weight at 12,000 feet in ISA +20C conditions.
The Army media link provided earlier this thread reveals the much increased field support capabilities necessary for Tiger and similarly for Apache wherever operated. The complexity of the MRH-90 and MH-60R will also entail substantial deployment penalties. The RAAF operated the Huey extensively throughout the neighbouring tropical archipelago with just 2 flight fitters, tool-boxes and a few basic spares. Single-engine Huey types can be pretty quickly prepared for C-130 deployment and be assembled again and flying at destination within about one hour. Not that easy for Blackhawk and MRH-90 and if C-17 transportation is necessary, then that becomes expensive.
Army Aviation blundered hugely by shedding the Iroquois sacrificing the most valuable battlefield asset, a light inexpensive proven utility capability with multi-role characteristics. But now, 5 Iroquois will apparently be retained for training and the remainder parked mainly at military base locations for historical purposes, just getting covered in birdshit. That is just irresponsible defence planning.
Upgrade of the 20 or so remaining Iroquois to Huey II via the Bell Helicopter factory program would only cost around $40million overall, less than the price of a single Tiger or MRH-90! Better to negotiate a reduction in the order for the flawed MRH-90 and upgrade all Iroquois to Huey II, even if some were stored, because it is very obvious that both the Tiger and MRH-90 will not have the requisite versatility for regional archipelago operations.
If anybody wishes to debate the military capabilities of the Huey II, then let's joust.
Last edited by Bushranger 71; 13th Jul 2010 at 01:38.
what's now lacking in the Oz Army's fleet of helos is a utility helicopter to carry out the admin and other tasks including supporting units in training. The MRH model will send the Army broke and there will never be enough cabs to meet training and other comms requirements.
USA is now using UH-72 for this which is a civil chopper fitted for the 2nd tier purpose. The ideal Huey replacement it seems..
Also does it look like Navy has settled on MH-60R?
Why buy an expensive new aircraft for roles which are arguably better performed by existing wholly-owned hardware that can be cost-effectively upgraded through an ongoing factory program with long-term supportability?
Parking very usable Iroquois as monuments will just be a criminal waste of valuable defence assets.
The USAF ordered 24 Huey II with a glass cockpit option; Iraq has since ordered 16 and will upgrade another 16 of their UH-1H.
Damn! I should have kept my HQuey Station Wagon and fitted a turbo diesel, air conditioning, some airbags, another seatbelt in the rear seat, an additional bench seat in the rear baggage compartment (to make it a seven seater), another differential to make it 4 wheel drive, bigger wheels, raised the suspension, a CD player (unecessary technology but nice for the driver), mobile phone kit and called it the HQuey II. But wait, I already sold it and bought a Turbo Diesel 4WD made by somebody else rather than Holden, therefore it can't be as good as the HQuey.
BR71, they are gone, sad I know and to see them covered in Birdshit will be kind of sad, but some parents like me, will stop in front of them and tell their kids about their grandparents/Uncles who flew into battle in them in Vietnam. Better than seeing them turned into scrap metal.
Embrace the future and these pesky new machines might even get the job done. I am pretty sure our guys and girls would rather fight in an ARH, MRH S70 rather than a Huey II
Okay Doors Off; come up with some valid hot and high performance figures for AAH, MRH-90, S-70 (your designation) and then we can do some good analysis and have a proper debate that might interest other forum participants.
Combat operations have to be conducted cost-effectively with affordable losses. Flexibility, Versatility and Economy of Effort are longstanding principles of war-fighting and none of the fore-mentioned types relate well to that guidance. Consider this extract from a very comprehensive US Army study of Vietnam War operations:
‘The (US) Army's decision to standardize on a utility tactical transport helicopter has far-reaching implications on every operation from its planning to its execution. Literally hundreds of our key battles could not have been fought without a light, agile machine that could go into improbable landing zones at a critical time. Had the Army chosen to build its airmobile tactics around a ‘platoon carrier’, different and less flexible tactics would have been forced on our commanders. As we move to replace the Huey fleet, we must never lose sight of the essential characteristics that made the Huey invaluable to the Infantry commander. Technology offers so many tempting alternatives that one can easily forget the basic problems of squad tactics. The vital lessons which we learned in the ‘sizing’ of our helicopter fleet dare not be forgotten.’ – Lieutenant General John J. Tolson
Discarding the Iroquois leaves the ADF without the most valuable of battlefield support helos, a light inexpensive utility aircraft capable of widely varied roles that can be operated very cost-effectively with some affordable losses in combat. Will the MRH-90 be utilized for ammo resupplies and casevac during ongoing close quarters engagements? Doubtful, at around $45million a copy.
Over the past 2 years, Australian defence expenditure has increased from 7.6 percent of government revenue to nearer 10 percent, which is unsustainable without further impost on taxpayers. Operating costs for the ADF are going off the clock and will worsen significantly in the helo field, but nobody is being held accountable.
The Iroquois are not yet gone; they are keeping 5 and the rest could be retained by a sensible political decision.
Last edited by Bushranger 71; 13th Jul 2010 at 03:57.
As a commander in the field, would you prefer to have helicopter support widely available to your unit and other sub-units, or have two or three bright, shiny high-tech aircraft that, (even if they were serviceable and based anywhere near you), simply had to be rationed to such a degree that they could only be made available in highly critical circumstances?
That's not even going into the question of whether the rare as batshit shiny new toys could carry the load (or as much load as the sneered at "HQey" could) or even be capable of operating into your LZ if you were in a hot and high location?
Nor whether the tasking agency was willing to put said shiny rare toy at risk if your loc. was (or went) hot?
MTOW likened our chopper selections to "using a Boeing 777 to carry 30 pax from Sydney to Dubbo" in an earlier post. With the choppers we're buying, I can't see them being even marginally economical in being used for 90% of the tasking I used to see in the field. (And let's face it, whether you like it or not, costs, both acquisition and operating, have to be considered.) I can see sub-units waiting a very long time - or having to move overland to 'hubs' - to get vitally needed supplies as multiple tasking requests are 'bundled' into one 'more economical' sortie.
.... or the military falling back on contracting to civilian operators for the 'bread and butter' stuff - surely not something that should be part of any planning strategy? Have the bean counters gained such ascendancy that 'surge capability' has been replaced with 'just in time'? If the military own and operate those 'bread and butter' aircraft, in an emergency, they can be employed outside their role, in some cases accepting risks - even losses - that would be considered unacceptable in normal operations. With civilian contractors, particularly foreign civilian contractors (as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan), any such outside normal role is very problematic.
Brian Abraham; re post #13 regarding 9SQN RAAF Vietnam War operations. With respect, you are way offside.
9SQN RAAF flew 58,768 hours, 237,806 sorties during 5.5 years (2,000 days) of Vietnam war involvement. That was the highest flying effort of any Air Force unit in any campaign since the inception of the RAAF in 1921.
The squadron did perform 1,100 plus SAS patrol insertions/extractions and 110 were in contested situations; but that was only a portion of the much broader effort in support of all of the 1ATF fighting arms, US and Vietnamese forces.
The primary role was support of the Infantry battalions with direct involvement in the fighting during hundreds of engagements. Lots of ammunition resupplies and casevacs during brawls. 7 aircraft were lost due to multiple causes and another 23 suffered mostly minor battle damage. 6 aircrew were killed and 8 wounded.
Regrettably; much misinformation mostly based on hearsay has been propagated over the past 40 years, some of it disappointingly originated by members of the other services. A recent example is the book VIETNAM: The Australian War by Paul Ham. Unfortunately; if lies are told often enough, they become the accepted truth.
The following statistics may help dispel some of the mythology generated over a few decades. Note in particular the casevacs, ammunition expenditure, maintenance effort and aircraft availability.
Last edited by Bushranger 71; 14th Jul 2010 at 00:00.
Dominique; 3,629 Australian casualties overall during Vietnam involvement, including 426 battle-related deaths, seemed like war-fighting to me.
The Australian Veterans' Entitlement Act 1986 embraces these provisions. For conflicts after WW2, qualifying service (for benefits) is either allotment to and service in an area described in Schedule 2 of the VEA, during the specific period, or force assigned and service in an area determined to be warlike. A written Instrument by the Minister for Defence determines warlike service and a bunch of these were created retrospectively in recent years to formalize veteran entitlements for conflicts in which Australia became involved wherein war was never formally declared.
The terms Korean War, Vietnam War, Falklands War, Gulf War, War in Iraq, War in Afghanistan, War on Terror do not necessarily relate to formal declarations of war although there may be statutory requirements for some of the nations involved.
Last edited by Bushranger 71; 13th Jul 2010 at 22:15.
I'm know I'm dating myself with this question, but nevertheless, it is an honest question.
Even if we disregard the operating/acquisition costs question (which I agree, we really can't). have things changed in the helicopter recce game to the degree that a man down in the weeds with his head out the open door of Sperm or a Kiowa has been replaced by someone cocooned in an airconditioned cabin of a Tiger? I know the electronic gizmos of today are a quantum leap from what was available 30 years ago, but I really wonder if they'll ever completely replace a set of eyes with day to day knowledge of the ground.
(1) sticking one's head up out of a T50 turret on a bucket and looking in vain for old mate, sitting quietly in the weeds; vs
(2) sitting in the turret of a LAV and seeing old mate from 1200m away on TI and sending some love his way. "FIRE" "ON" "FIRE" "FIRING NOW" "STOP TARGET DESTROYED"
Not being AAAvn myself it's the best I could do at short notice. Leo vs M1 Abrams comparison probably similarly valid ...
Lets see... having to get close enough to use one's eyes directly (and thus vastly increasing the probability of getting blown out of the sky by an RPG or machine gun), along with having to go to each spot you want to check out, and carrying a small weapons load that can only deal with one or two of what you find.
Or, tooling along at a respectable distance/altitude, using FLIR (with image-enhancement/enlargement modes) and other sensors to see in detail day or night, etc . Being able to look at more spots in a short time because you are able to see details from further off, thus not having to actually go to each spot. Having a significant load of more effective and numerous weapons to deal with trouble "right now" vs having to call in someone else who might not be able to acquire the target you want to hit (if it hasn't moved off by then).
Of course, those are just "electronic gizmos", and therefore useless, right?
They are BETTER than unaided human vision, and they give more info to the human mind, thus giving BETTER knowledge of the ground!
Please come forward from the 1960s (you said "30 years ago", but even then military professionals were embracing more advanced tech than "sticking one's head out the door"), and inform yourself about just what those "electronic gizmos" really do, and what they add to the capabilities of the modern recon helo and the crews flying them!
Utility, recce, gunship helos all need good visibility as aircrew must be able to see and hear ground-fire as they normally operate at the coal-face of operations. That is why the Huey, Kiowa, Sperm were so good for their roles. Conversely, any helo with an air-conditioned cabin, more vision impairing ironmongery surrounding cockpits - as in so-called stealth attack helo designs - and inboard mounted defensive weaponry will arguably be less suited for close-quarters battlefield support than the fore-mentioned types.
Review of the book APACHE by Ed Macy reveals some of the pluses and minuses of the Apache and those aspects mentioned above are discussed. FLIR is beaut technology for reconnaissance; but if 2 heads are more in cockpits peering at screens and/or through monocles or HUD, then visual observation capacity is arguably further diminished.
Project Air 87 acquired the Tiger '... to replace the capability currently represented by the Bell 206B-1 (Kiowa) and UH1-H (Iroquois) gunship helicopters with a new reconnaissance and fire support capability for the land force early in the next century.' But Tiger will be inadequate on both counts in my view.
Consider this extract from the very comprehensive US Army study of Vietnam War operations:
'...While many (US Army) gunship crews liked the speed, agility and hard-to-hit slender lines of the Cobra, there was another faction that preferred the old Huey gunships since the door gunners not only provided additional eyes and ears but could lay down suppressive fire to the rear of the helicopter…The debate between the two factions went on through the war.’
But sticking with armed recce for now; the Kiowa could have been very cost-effectively upgraded and appropriate certified weaponry mounted as required. That would have provided an adequate capability and the Kiowa is of course actively employed in Afghanistan.
Last edited by Bushranger 71; 14th Jul 2010 at 04:16.
"Review of the book APACHE by Ed Macy reveals some of the pluses and minuses of the Apache and those aspects mentioned above are discussed. FLIR is beaut technology for reconnaissance; but if 2 heads are more in cockpits peering at screens and/or through monocles or HUD, then visual observation capacity is arguably further diminished."
I have read both his books, a couple of times. Isn't being able to "see" from further away, in both modes better than just one normal eye mode close up ? They do have the option of then going closer for an eyeball if needed once possible threats have been assessed ?
"'...While many (US Army) gunship crews liked the speed, agility and hard-to-hit slender lines of the Cobra, there was another faction that preferred the old Huey gunships since the door gunners not only provided additional eyes and ears but could lay down suppressive fire to the rear of the helicopter…The debate between the two factions went on through the war.’"
Fully understand the tactical situation here, but isn't that why the Apache's work in pairs in opposite sides of a clock so one can also cover the other ?
Same as when they both landed at the fort, 2 other Apache's were covering them ?
Good discussion and I may be mixing apples and oranges a little.
Much valuable use was made of sensors for reconnaissance in Vietnam from a range of fixed wing aircraft moreso than choppers and usually from above about 4,000 AGL. We operated 'people sniffer' gear from Hueys at tree top level level but no other electronic detectors. The state of the art sensor stuff is of course great and much of this kit is now an optional fit for fixed and rotary wing enabling cost-effective adaptation for particular roles.
War-fighting in barren open terrain like Iraq and Afghanistan requires some variations in operating practices compared with counter-insurgency in tropical jungle environs. As always, there is still need for a range of recce capabilities including visual reconnaissance where sight, sound, smell can locate human activity not necessarily detectable by sensors (e.g. cooking, toilet odours) emanating from caves, tunnels.
Attack helicopters have special applicability including of course armour busting for which they were initially conceived. But they are super-expensive and mostly not equipped with an adequate mix of gun weaponry for intimate close-quarters support (as close at 10 metres from friendlies) where weapon redundancy is essential.
The 2 helo gunship (light fire team) operating concept was not sound in my view because the trailing aircraft only provides support for the lead, but that differs when wagon-wheeling. Similarly for the AAH which tend to fly further apart for radar and sensor considerations. The following illustration depicts both 2 and 3 ship attack profiles for Huey gunships with the advantages of a 3 aircraft flight apparent. A 3 or 4 gunship/AAH flight would be best conducted in fighter low level battle formation during transit or reconnaissance giving effective cross-cover for all aircraft. But as indicated in APACHE, units operating that complex aircraft struggle to maintain 50 percent on line availability so they probably get stuck with the 2 ship concept (likely so for the Tiger).
Basic 2 & 3 ship Bushranger attack profiles
Last edited by Bushranger 71; 14th Jul 2010 at 10:48.