I confess to not knowing much about the P68. But I do have some relevant experience, albeit from a little while ago.
The simple facts of the matter are these. Even in the halcyon days when helicopters were operated by individual forces, and were therefore on top of incidents within 5-10 minutes. Truth is that 50% (or likely more?) of jobs benefitted little from the attendance of air support. Now the assets are based even further away from the action, I can't see that ratio improving? I also suspect a greater proportion from the 'useful' 50% could now be handled just as easily by a FW as a RW, since by definition the delay in attendance is likely to mean a more static ('colder') situation upon arrival overhead. Sad but true, and an inevitable consequence of NPAS.
IMVHO, and speaking in very broad brush terms, it was always my opinion that a FW asset, could achieve (about?) 67% of the capability of a helicopter at (about?) 50% of the price. So there is a perfectly reasonable financial case to be made, if cost cutting (or dogma?) is the only consideration.
The only true drawback that a FW had back in my day, (may not be the case now?) was an inability to utilise nitesun effectively. Combined with an obvious inability to hover, this made directing ground troops by only radio commentary, a far more difficult skill. (That's in an Islander at 40kts, I see the P68 advertises a min mission speed of 75kts?) Much easier to simply point the nitesun and watch the good guys just make their way to it.
Obviously electronic surveillance, or comms, is an easy win for FW over RW.
Anyone thinking that an IFR capability, along with an icing clearance, will 'obviously' improve air support coverage, maybe being a little disingenuous, or simply hasn't thought things through. Particularly likely if they are dealing with people holding the purse strings who have no knowledge of flying.
Notwithstanding the fact that once IMC, any descent below MSA, is likely to require an IFR letdown.
I'd be very interested if anyone knows the fuel endurance of one of these birds, when fully crewed and carrying all the internal and external role equipment required. Then factor in how much fuel would be required to reach an IFR destination after a 'job', AND STILL RETAIN the ADDITIONAL fuel to divert to an IFR alternate, make a second approach there and land with IFR final reserve fuel? (Usually 30 minutes.) You may be lucky in some parts of the country, with lots of 24 hour airfields? Other parts of the country, particularly after a lengthy transit, it just may not be possible?
Just my tuppence worth.
Last edited by 4468; 20th Mar 2017 at 00:08.