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.
I do chuckle at MaroonMan's trolling / Jack & Royal baiting, it is a shame that it does get bites rather than Wahs.
If, for example, the argument about chopping another RW SH goes, then hacking the Junglies is totally arse about face - as they can do the same basic that the Puma force does, but also bring amphibiosity as well - so why cut the team which brings more capabilities to the table?
I can see some of the logic in proposing that the Strategic lead should have an Air (not necessarily RAF) suite of qualifications and experience - however unlike the views of previous high ranking officers, would this person not be better to come from an Eng or Logs background rather than having just been a 'stick-monkey'?
I agree what the current MAA rules say, but don't you think in the future that it just makes sense to have an air minded senior officer, that has grown up in an air environment, with experience and qualifications in the air, as the person accountable and responsible to the SofS for the safety of military things in the air, not one that is used to digging trenches or sailing on boats?
No, it doesn't make sense.
These aren't the 'current' MAA rules. They're the rules. The rules from the independent organisation that is charged with setting down the rules. The fact that they are not rules you agree with is imaterial. They are the rules.
Now to the content. The MAA has clearly said that each service's COS is to be the SDH for that service 'by virtue of position'. His (or her) job is to build a proper DDH/ODH accountability structure to manage and deliver safe aviation. For my part, I am absolutely sure that the RAF can do that. So can the Navy and so can the Army, because they are all professionals.
They probably won't all do it the same way, because they are professionals and will adapt and build their ODH/DDH structures to meet their own operational needs. And that's a good thing, because it gives them all a chance to learn from each other.
And exactly what is an 'air minded senior officer' anyway? Care to define that? Evalu8ter poses a very fair question - FW 'minded' or RW 'minded'? Let me add mine. 'Manned' minded or 'UCAV' minded? '1Gp' minded or '2 Gp' minded?
What grates here (and as rare example I am going to admit to a grating feeling) is the inferred assumption that the RAF are the sole and only professional 'air minded' practitioners in the UK military. They are not. They are extremely good at what they do, and I take special care always to acknowledge that. But to infer that the FAA and the AAC don't know how to manage and deliver safe aviation is just, I'm sorry, poor. That sort of argument lets down the RAF just as much as it offends the other two services.
And it's exactly the sort of argument that is being deployed right now. It got started in earnest during SDSR and many of us know that it's getting worse. By the day. What bothers me most is not the existence of that argument. What bothers me most is that the aviation professionals in all three services are being let down, right now, by it. Because if the senior staffs are spending their time trying to snatch each others 'rice bowls' (and that is exactly what is going on right now) they are not spending their time making sure that the people at the sharp end are getting the kit, training and support they need.
Sorry if this sounded like a rant. It's not intended as such. As ever, let's all stay behind the people doing the business in the air, on the sea, and on the sand. The last most of all, because the bombs are in the sand.
Funny how only a few days ago it was briefed in front of the RW RN 1* that all major projects including Mk3 - 4 conversion (MLSP) and crows nest (Mk1) were on hold due to the treasury...... The delay will now put everything beyond 2016. You only need to look at the Mk1 - Mk2 upgrade to see how long it takes from contract let to 1st cab at QQ BD and beyond.
Sadly you do. Only the CHF are charged with being the experts in embarked amphibious helo ops. While the RAF (and AAC) may contribute task elements when required they generally have no interest other than "are the RN going to provide a safe system for me to operate from the sea?" and generally want to get on and off asap. The "safe system" is provided by maritime trained aircrews, engineers and ship staff who have an interest in the capability. Someone has to write the rules, regs and op procedures etc. So it is in the interest of the SofS that he has a body of people who have such a capablility......hence CHF. Indeed Cmd JHC has to ensure such a capability/expertise is available to CinCFleet and thus I assume he has been arguing heavily for its retention (but with the current incumbent I am not holding my breath.)
I do not know whether to be honoured or flattered by your belief that I am a troll, but I do feel kind of nervous as Admin Guru appears back on the scene and posting here
I agree totally that the UK should have an amphibious capability (so no Royal baiting).
I disagree with the current trend by JHC to make everyone capable of operating from decks, woefully naive and hence if the nation does need an amphibious capability, the helicopter bit is best placed with the Subject Matter Experts (and what ever anyone says, as a force CHF certainly could cobble together much more embarked experience than anyone else, even despite HERRICK).
I disagree that the Chinook is the solution to everything, whether in the Land or Maritime environment, and we are much better placed serving the Land requirement if something else can do the majority of the Maritime lift without us.
But......and this is where I try not to come across as a troll, but a sense of reality, and as Neartheend reminds us, we are broke and just maybe there are some political U turns around the corner on SDSR (which wasn't rushed don't forget!) which might just see the requirement for Merlin and CHF removed. If not removed, just delayed and deferred by the politicians to the point where it becomes just too expensive (my guess, around 2015, when the current Govt could do with some MOD money to sweeten up the election hope and a Merlin project behind schedule, over budget due to political indecision in 2011-12 will send it the same way as the NImrods - to the breakers!).
I really do hope that the Merlin transition goes smoothly, there is absolutely no reason why our manners cannot smooth the outflow into both Puma and Chinook, to give Defence a relatively cost effective amphibious helicopter capability (which whether we like AW or not does put money and jobs into the Yeovil economy rather than France or Eastern Europe wherever the Puma upgrade is taking place), but Defence is broke and unlike our airships managing to get positive funding for Puma, I don't quite see the same interest or imperative from the Fishead hierarchy with Merlin, probably because they have ships and submarines to save, and helicopters aren't really the core equipments, or maybe an amphibious force has not been deemed an essential capability by the politicians, who knows?
Harsh, but only trying to be realistic in these financially screwed up times.
Last edited by MaroonMan4; 19th Feb 2012 at 16:35.
Not sure the Griffin HAR2 would be an ideal choice. Last time I was briefed there were only 4 procured for the specific role in Cyprus. They dont have a folding MRH and they dont have an AFCS night overwater hover capability
Not ideal for a maritime SAR helicopter
Then again that link implies differently so maybe things have changed
Bismarck, In an ideal world I agree with you entirely. However, the ATG Staff officers are the important piece here and they are currently drawn from (quite sensibly) CHF. There would be nothing to stop RAF/AAC pers from attending the AOPC, take part in a couple of desktops and then be ready at the start of the re-gen cycle post 2014 to run through a number of Wadexes etc before declaring a capability. Would there be a drop in efficiency - absolutely yes - but CHF themselves have suffered from a lack of embarked time recently. Flying from a deck in the Littoral in a modern helicopter is not hard; planning the DOTAH and fly-out tables is. You could, if so minded, make this a task of other aircrew apart from CHF. Is it any different to posting officers with no procurement experience into PTs/FLCs/CAPs? I don't think so (and before you ask, I've worked in procurement, completed the AOPC and done a number of amphib packages both live and practise. I may be a crab but I'd rather be in an air-conditioned cabin than stuck in a dusty tent...). If the right people are given the right training then CHF could fold. I would rather they didn't, they continue to provide an excellent service, but they could, just, be seen as gold plating. Anyway, let's hope the Merlin transfer goes ahead as planned. Time to draw a line methinks.
Engines re SDH et al - as ever, put more eloquently than wot I can...
Re SDH et al - don't think so, mate, just trying to keep up with you, as ever.
My take on the 'joint' experience is that, sadly, putting 'joint' formations under the ownership of a single service command isn't working as it needs to. The situation gets even worse when heads of those joint formations don't act in a 'joint' manner.
CHF had a solid, sound and useful (albeit limited) capability when part of Fleet. Knew who they were, what they did, led by a small but motivated staff and (as I remember it) worked just fine with anyone else when detailed off to do so. Not sure they have been any better as part of JHC, to be honest. Just more staff.
Getting helicopters to sea on large ships in benign seas isn't a high end flying (pole and pedals) skill, although highly skilled pole and pedal types are often encountered. The really necessary skills, as you point out, are the planning and airmanship aspects, and getting the deck to work. But the most essential thing for proper delivery of ANY capability is commitment, from the top to the bottom. And when one service decides that it should justify and preserve its own capabilities by diluting or denigrating those of the other two, that damages that sense of commitment. (Trust goes out the window as well).
Best Regards as ever to those out there in harm's way
why cut the team which brings more capabilities to the table?
Because it costs more? Whatever one's allegiances or preferences, the Merlin costs far more to operate than Puma. It would be very sad to see CHF go, but then it was also sad to see the back of Harrier, Ark, Nimrod, and the need to save money has hardly gone away...
As for the Griffin HAR2, I wouldn't trust a word on the linked website - full of bolleaux of many varieties (eg under Sea King, 22 Sqn based at St Mawgan, or Squirrel, 'max altitude 16,000 feet', and apparently used by '60 (Reserve) Squadron'...good to see that the powers that be have made sure that they are bang up to date with their FJ content, such as the recent renumbering of 19 Sqn to IV Sqn, but it's a shame that the Hawk T1 is attributed to IV Sqn...need I go on...)
Last edited by TorqueOfTheDevil; 19th Feb 2012 at 20:37.
Reason: Found even more bolleaux on the RAF website!
Hello RW types. You appear to be dancing around a subject vexing the light blue side of the FW equation.
If you are going to go to sea, which the RAF 'will' (for the sake of argument) do to augment CHF or replace CHF...pick either, it doesn't really matter...then you either have to fit into a system or bring one with you. A whole one. At the moment we have an ever decreasing amount of maritime expertise. For fairly obvious reasons RW is better placed than FW. That dwindling expertise is keeping us safe to a degree and crucially, to my mind, the 'we can do without the niche capability, gold plated capability' argument misses the point. It is that core that allows the 'bolt on' to function. It is that core that provides the guys who run the deck, who position the ship, who grew up through CHF and now supervise it.
Does Odiham want to provide a full time flyco team? How about ATC? If not full time then for how long prior to an embarkation? Who will validate the Air department? Who will check the camrex?
You can't rely on a system being in place whilst arguing for the removal of the very thing which feeds it.
If the RAF, or some within it, want to replace CHF because it's a niche capability, just like some would argue they have the same aspiration to man FW in its entirety - could they please be coherent enough to tell us where the Cdr Airs, Lt Cdr Flyings, SO2 RWs, SO3 HECs are going to come from?
If the answer is: 'The Fleet Air Arm of the RAF' where you go from RAFC Cranwell to RAF-det HMS Collingwood to earn your spurs on a bridge and then spend your career operating from a ship or at least on a badged FAA-of the-RAF squadron with a higher embarkation cycle than the RAF SH fleet, and then go on staff tours directly related to the capability...then that is a sound answer and I applaud your thinking. But the implication of that isn't just distasteful to those joining the RAF, it's impractical as well. It's everything wrong with our Joint thinking. We have asystem that provides this already, manned by people who want to do it. Bizarrely enough they don't spend every waking hour dreaming up reasons to take over the AAC or any other SH provider.
So come on then, what's the plan? Let's hear what the end-to-end RAF plan is to replace CHF. Not just in the cockpit, but in the ships, in the hangar, in flyco the whole darn shooting match. Because all that is fed by CHF.
I have only just read this utter bolleaux article. Yeah good one matelot. All 22 cabs modified my aarse. (by the way, the next time you leak from MOD to your mucker in the telegraph, get the numbers of ac right-there are 27 gusting 28 mk3/3a).
This will go ahead, or not when ministers are told the truth about the cost of the transfer. Not the 'zero cost option' chuff that has been spun so far.
Location: uk mostly, desert lots, searching for lost posts
But to infer that the FAA and the AAC don't know how to manage and deliver safe aviation is just, I'm sorry, poor.
I think you miss the intended point Engines, or at least as I've always understood it.
No-one (well, not me) questions the professionalism of the aviators of the other Services, but - crucially in my mind - aviation is only a part of those services, and rarely if ever seen as the most important.
My view is that when (financial) push comes to shove, the AAC in CGS's eyes will always lose out to tanks/regiments/more bayonets, and for 1SL boats and ships will always be more important than the FAA. Whilst CAS may (probably will ) prefer something fast and pointed to something rotary - at least it's air!
I do my best to stay 'on thread' and address the point - apologies if I'm not succeeding.
My quote there was in response to a suggestion that only an 'air minded' CAS could be a Senior Duty Holder (SDH) in the new MAA arrangements. That suggestion betrayed (to my mind) a fairly typical mindset that 'as 'air' isn't the most important thing to the RN and the Army, the RAF are the best placed to do it'.
It's one I profoundly disagree with. The RAF are 'best placed' to deliver those capabilities that they are charged to deliver. And, in general, they do it. There are some good arguments to be had over the emphasis that the RAF have placed over the past 40 years or so on fast jet acquisition (especially AD aircraft) at the expense of AT, SH and AAR, and ISTAR, but they are for another day.
But I contend that the RN and the Army are quite capable of delivering capabilities via the use of aircraft. They've done so for many years, and in areas where the RAF are basically uninterested or just don't think are required. (Maritime fixed wing is a good example). And the Navy and the Army will deliver aircraft programmes. On the Apache, the Army took a massive hit on other more traditional equipment programmes to buy it.
It's my view that the RAF would do well to take a long hard look at the way the RN and the Army develop their officer corps, and perhaps aim to deliver people who are more widely experienced, and perhaps less 'air minded' and more 'capability minded'. That, by the way, is not a slight on the very many RAF officers I've worked with over many years, who were all (with very few exceptions) quite exceptionally professional and dedicated to their service.
Best Regards as ever to those doing the stuff at the sharp end,