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(UK) Military 250kt limit

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(UK) Military 250kt limit

Old 26th Aug 2003, 03:21
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(UK) Military 250kt limit

I've heard that military jets will soon be limited to 250kt below 10,000ft in uncontrolled airspace iaw the 'See & Avoid' priciple. Is this true?
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 03:55
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Just hope you're right
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 04:48
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I hope you're not.

Military fast jets have been flying at speeds of 420kt at low level in the UK for decades - it's essential to the way the RAF operate. Admittedly they have less requirement for it since the demise of the Warsaw Pact (remember them?), but it is still an essential skill.

Most strike aircraft will tool along quite happily at low level at various speeds from 420kt up to 700kt+ if allowed - 250kt is not far off stalling speed for some.

So no, I hope you're wrong. I think it's a small sacrifice to keep front line fighter pilots up to speed.
Old 26th Aug 2003, 07:54
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I actually think its a good idea, look at those Tornado's that got shot down in the Gulf war, low level flying is pretty useless even against primative groundfire.

Stealth technology and long range missle capability have increased a lot of the years thats why the USAF don't dwell on the subject as much as the RAF and anyway the Americans call all the shots these days. If you can train Civilian Pilots on the latest Simulators why not Brylcreem boys ?

There are alot of problems low level fast jets cause such as killing livestock, making peoples life in the countryside even more ubearable and look at the cost to the taxpayer. Airspace over the UK is getting more congested and will get even more so especially over North Yorkshire and as the North East airports grow they create economic benifits including ex RAF pilots who are going to fly those planes.

There will always be people who say that we need to defend the freedoms and the rights that we have today but the same people will always find ways to justify there own existance by supplying a future enemy with weapons and starting a conflict,its just a vicious circle.

As Richard Crandell the ex boss of American Airlines said maybe we create a lot of noise and polution, but the more people travel and fly,the more world understanding we create and the less conflict we are going to have is not that a good thing?
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 09:55
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More people equals more understanding? REALLY? EVERY body in England and America uses electricity, but try and build a power plant or even run a transmission line.

More people flying =s more objections not less

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Old 26th Aug 2003, 17:02
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Hey Hangar 35,

We don't have anything remotely stealthy until Typhoon comes into service, and the very fact that there ARE people out there willing to supply anything to anybody, for a price, is reason enough to keep the RAF as well trained as possible.

Or perhaps we should just run down the RAF to the state it was during the Munich crisis and keep our fingers crossed?

The increasing commercial demands on our airspace just means that it must be better run, not embargoed to certain users.
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 19:50
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Hanger35 - As one who flew a number of Tornado low-level missions during the first Gulf War I can assure you that your pereceptions are not accurate. "All those Tornados" that were shot down at low level was actually two! The RAF lost a total of 7 during the conflict plus a number in training prior to kick-off. Of the other five lost during the war itself, one had a control restriction after take-off, one crashed away from enemy fire during a recovery manoeuvre, one was shot down at medium level, one was believed to have had a software problem giving erroneous HUD readings resulting in a crash off the target and the last one was blown up by its own bombs at medium level due to a fusing error. Every one was regrettable but as I say only two were directly attributable to enemy fire at low level.

The arguments for low flying are certainly less clear than they were a decade ago. The reality is that the Americans were able to have the luxury of medium level operations because of their huge investment in jamming and anti-radar assets. As the poorer cousins we have not been quite so fortunate and traditionally had to go for the 'low and fast approach' with the assumption that we could hide behind hills and so forth to evade detection. Great fun it was too!

A number of big changes have occurred in the last few years. The first two have been the advent of precision weapons and the necessity of avoiding civilian caaualties. Both those requirements are greatly enhanced by the relative ease of weapon delivery at medium level in comparison with low level. A further factor of change has been the fact that we routinely operate very closely with the Americans and therefore get the benefit of their package protection, thereby obviating the need for low level operations. The final factor has been that it is increasingly politically unacceptable to lose aircraft and worst still have aircrew as prisoners because of the extremely adverse publicity it brings. Low level operations carry an intrinsically higher risk of being shot down and therefore are not really worth the risk except in exceptional circumstances.

It is worth noting that apart from Tornado recce aircraft, no manned fast jet aircraft operations at low level have taken place since the first few days of the first Gulf War including the Serbian conflict and the second Gulf War. Put simply - the risk was too high for the top brass to allow it. The Tornado GR4 and Harrier GR7 are magnificent platforms for low level operations with night vision goggles and forward looking infrared - not to mention the terrrain following radar of the Tornado. The reality is that they are too exposed at low level these days for the reasons I have given previously

The case for low flying is therefore nothing like it was. It is clear nevertheless that fast jets simply cannot function properly at 250 kts which is clearly a figure plucked from some politician's head. It is vital that the RAF maintains some degree of expertise in low flying because the one thing we all know is that you never know where the next conflict is coming from and what will be required to win it. What is absolutely certain is come it will and it is the duty of the armed services to be prepared.
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 23:00
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Really is about time the air force(s) wake up to the fact that modern day simulators do a rather good job of preparing pilots to fly complex aircraft.
If it works for major airlines in a cost effective way, why can it not work in a similar manner for the AirForce?
Or....does tradition die hard?
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 23:23
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When was the last time you pulled +4G or more in a simulator? A simulator is fine to train an airline pilot to deal with a double oven failure after V1.
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 23:28
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I haven't read such a load of bollox for ages.
A limit of 250 kts would be totally unacceptable.
As already pointed out it isn't that far above most stall speeds and is certainly below the speed anyone would want to manoeuvre.
The topic so far has centred around bomber low level operations. For the same reason that we used to plan on low level, the bad guys now would be mad not to. So interceptor operations are more likely than ever to be low and I ain't doing an intercept at 250 kts, nor am I doing my first ever one outside the sim against a real bandit/bogey. Converting high to low is dangerous. It needs to be practiced and no sim currently used can simulate properly what it is like. We're not talking about procedural approaches to large airports or the odd visual circuit. What we do is fundamentally different.
Of course more training, particularly hi/med level, can and will be done in the sim with Typhoon.

Just out of interest where did this insane idea come from??

My own rule would be no-one allowed in uncontrolled airspace unless they have an air defence radar or are working with someone who does!!!!!!!!
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 23:56
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411a -

Well strangley enough the RAF and UK military have been using simulators for decades. And with the advent of secure broadband you can link many different types of sims together and have a great "virtual reality" battle. Excellent training indeed.

However, exercises like Red Flag are even better training, and short of actual war about the most realistic. Problem is they use real aeroplanes, and these sometimes have to be flown at low level and high speed. Now I certainly wouldn't want to go into one of these exercises without training in the skills required, let alone a real war. Now I agree that the most serious AA threat in recent conflicts has been small arms and AAA, but another war might see a different threat, such as dense SAMS (North Vietnam springs to mind). It'd be far too late to get some belated low flying training in if that sort of war kicks off.

I thought most military forces worth their pay had learnt this sort of lesson during the last century; let's hope they haven't forgotten it now.
Old 27th Aug 2003, 00:15
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Unhappy 411A

Its been so long since we have seen you post in this neck of the woods....but not long enough!

Whilst there are some similar aspects to the Sim work required by the fighters compared to the airline training (Instrument approaches, procedures, emergency drills, systems manipulation), the similarities end quickly when it comes to the nuts and bolts of fighter and tactical aviation ops.

Formation flying, low flying, air-air refueling, weapons to name but a few cannot be completely represented to a credible extent with the use of simulators, lets face it, even the airlines have to have "line" training and well.....lets just say that low flying is one of the many aspects of military "line" training.

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Old 27th Aug 2003, 00:33
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A lot of people seem to be talking a lot of bollards here. Firstly the Tornado shot down recently in the Gulf was not shot down by 'primitive ground fire' because it was flying at low level as suggested

The RAF is one of the best low level operators in the world, and our LL ability is respected by the US. This ability comes with practice and continuous training in a real environment. As an SH driver I can say that we have a technically state of the art simulator setup (despite the fact that it's managed by monkeys) but even that is still not a patch on real low flying. Realistic training is essential.

LL training is done for a damn good reason, but the restrictions and beaurocracy involved in organising such sorties is not generally appreciated by the general public.

Also, just how much controlled airspace do civvy operators need below 2000'? And another thing, GA pilots who low fly ILLEGALLY should have their licences permanently revoked.

Rant over. Any questions?
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Old 27th Aug 2003, 02:05
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Good points Max, You just beat me to it...

Coming from the helicopter world, anyone who thinks that simulators can play anything more than a minor part in our training is talking rubbish.

Sims are useful for checks, emergencies and basic/procedural IF, not much else.

Hovering, underslung loads, NVG and low-level tactical ops can only be properly learned in the aircraft itself. (Which unfortunately aggravates civpop a bit, but it MUST be done.)

(But posters here who fly nothing but procedural IF for a living wouldn't have a clue what we are on about!)

Last edited by Training Risky; 28th Aug 2003 at 14:36.
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Old 27th Aug 2003, 02:40
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The tactical need for low flying remains valid, though recent ops have been conducted in circumstances where medium level happens to have been preferred because of the nature of the threat. Nevertheless, it is my understanding that a number of operators have had to fly real-world low level ops on a number of occasions since the Gulf War.

The loss rate of RAF Tornados in Granby was lower than any informed observer expected, and the loss rate at low level (as has been said) was especially low, not least because those involved had practised tooling around at or below 250 ft at speeds considerably in excess of 250 kts.

The loss rate in peacetime low level training is miniscule nowadays, and damage to Farmer Bill's sheep, horses, chickens and the like is wildly exaggerated. Besides which the ****** needs something to moan on about, and some reason to get compensation.....

The idea that military low flying can be simulated effectively is a joke. Although I'm only a PPL, I've flown various military sims (brand new and steam age) and rigs, and have been fortunate enough to have famil. and orientation flights at low level in a number of fast jet types. It's inconceivable that operational status could be maintained without a great deal of real-world practise in this 'art'.

Not Working, 411A and hangar 35, you clearly have no clue at all.

Following on from the 'Inspirational Jag Pilot' thread, I wonder what legitimate business civilian traffic has below 1,000 ft, anyway. Apart from take off and landing, PFLs, powerline inspections and crop-spraying (oops, they don't do that any more) we PPLs should be bimbling about at an altitude from which we have plenty of time to select our field if the donk quits, and to be able to 'alight clear' of built up areas and the like. It may be fun to fly low, but perhaps the solution should be to make civilian notification of flight at or below 1,000 ft, outside a given radius of licenced aerodromes mandatory, and to make all civilian flight below 500 ft illegal, except for the purposes of take off, landing and PFLs, if our low level airspace is really becoming that crowded and dangerous.

On the other hand, over land, and in the more congested areas of airspace, perhaps a speed restriction would be reasonable at higher altitudes (perhaps from 2-10,000 ft?) without being too operationally limiting. How fast do you chaps need to transit, for example?

How about the Jag boys? Can they get as fast as 250 kts on a hot day?
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Old 27th Aug 2003, 03:10
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Ahhh-whatever happened to the glory days of getting airborne in full A/B and chasing after TACEVAL targets at 600 KIAS and a few hundred feet over Suffolk and its villages. Sitting half a mile behind a GAF 104 over Stowmarket at 450 KIAS with the acquisition 'winder growling happily. Or seeing transonic jump in Cumbria whilst chasing Jaguars towards Otterburn....

Regarding low level operation by civilian aircraft, I put forward a Rule 5 amendment proposal which would exempt civil pilots from the 500 ft rule only when conducting training exercises authorised by a Flight Instructor - e.g. PFLs. The other provisos of Rule 5 would still apply, except that the 'glide clear' rule should be retained and the 1500 ft clause amended to 1000 ft as in other ICAO states. Still waiting for the Belgrano to make its mind up...........
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Old 27th Aug 2003, 03:33
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Ah what nostalgia.....

And remember getting airborne from Wildenwrath and spending the whole sortie below 1500 AGL in Special VFR safe in the knowledge that all of the GAT puddle jumping bug smashers had to be 1500-5000 VFR. Only snag was the odd wizz over Nordhorn range chasing muds who happened to be on FRAs or splashing the odd Jaguar in the Bruggen pattern - still he wouldn't have been there if he wasn't looking for trouble.
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Old 27th Aug 2003, 05:13
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Re your Jag comment....better go back to the "Low Level Omani Jags" threads and see the video I have posted there, not only better than 250 kts but 25' AGL (at best) to boot! And lets face it here in the sandpit when isn't it a hot day!

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Old 27th Aug 2003, 05:30
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250 kts which is clearly a figure plucked from some politician's head
I have no wish to rush to any politician's defence, but this is an almost universal restriction for civil traffic below 10000ft... and an ICAO SARP, so it does have some basis in fact. This does not constitute an opinion on the subject matter
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Old 27th Aug 2003, 08:39
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I can't believe some of the comments I have read on this thread so far.

Surely the air warfare arena is one where multiple tactics need to be offered as viable alternatives when faced with a credible opponent. If all you train for is the most successful techniques used in recent conflicts then the enemy knows exactly what to expect and how then to defend against it. That places the aircrew in a higher risk situation.

For most of the recent depolyments, our armed forces have had the benefit of air superiority and considerable electronic warfare measures. Without these, the medium level heavily laden bombers become little more than sitting ducks. We must have a workable alternative for dealing with or providing a deterrent to more advanced nations. Moreover, tactical movements of troops still need to take place at low level and at night to minimise the risk to the aircraft. Current simulators have yet to offer the detail in terms of visuals and movement to convincingly replicate this environment.

There is a popular but inaccurate idea amonst the public at large that stealth aircraft are totally invisible. This does little to help the cause, but people forget that the whole point of low flying is stealth of a sort, and Britain is not alone in training for it.

More concerning is the possibility that someone with power believes fast jets could operate safely and with no detriment to the training with a speed limit of 250kts below 10,000 feet!!!

What I find strange is that this issue has arisen when the number of our armed forces are dwindling. There are fewer jets to make noise than in days gone. There are fewer low flying aircraft in the whole system than previously and we have very tightly controlled airspace to minimise problems.

Light aircraft have no need to go below 1000 feet as all they are doing is placing themselves into danger if the engine fails (unless they are landing etc. obviously!)

Can someone please apply the common sense hammer to the head of whoever came up with this barmy speed limit.
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