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Parliamentary Questions concerning Hercules Safety

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Parliamentary Questions concerning Hercules Safety

Old 10th Mar 2006, 17:22
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Parliamentary Questions concerning Hercules Safety

The following questions have been asked in Parliament this week concerning the circumstances of the shooting down of XV179 and the deployment of Hercules ac to Afghanistan.

26
Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South): To ask the Secretary of State for
Defence, what representations he has received in the last five years on
fitting reticulated foam to all Mk1 Hercules aircraft.
(57108)
27
Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South): To ask the Secretary of State for
Defence, what his plans are for combat search and rescue cover for
downed RAF aircrews in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and if he will make
a statement.
(57109)
28
Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South): To ask the Secretary of State for
Defence, what plans he has to fit the new K model Hercules aircraft with
(a) the latest generation defensive aids suite and (b) foam in the wing
tanks; and if he will make a statement.
(57110)
29
Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South): To ask the Secretary of State for
Defence, which J model Hercules aircraft have been fitted with (a) the
latest generation defensive aids suite and (b) foam in the wing tanks;
and what plans he has to equip the remaining aircraft.
(57111)
30
Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South): To ask the Secretary of State for
Defence, what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated
on the value of (i) the latest generation defensive aids suite and (ii)
foam in the wing tanks of Hercules aircraft; and what assessment he has
made of the research on these issues.
(57154)
31
Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South): To ask the Secretary of State for
Defence, when each of the Mk 3 Hercules were fitted with associated
defensive aids systems.
(57158)
32
Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South): To ask the Secretary of State for
Defence, if he will make it his policy not to use Hercules aircraft
which have not been fitted with (a) latest generation Defensive Aids
Suite and (b) foam in the wing tanks in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan;
and if he will make a statement.
(57160

For those who do not know, I am a former Hercules pilot and friend of some of those who were killed last year. Without the restrictions imposed by the Military, I am now in a position to demand answers from the Establishment as to why this crew may have died unnecessarily. I have been working for several weeks through contacts in the media and the House of Commons to improve the safety and security of Hercules aircrew. The above questions have been asked as a result of evidence I submitted to the Defence Committee. The Government has been hiding for too long behind a veil of secrecy and must be brought to account both morally and financially.
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Old 10th Mar 2006, 17:46
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If Q28 means we are getting some new K models then top work Nige!
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Old 10th Mar 2006, 17:46
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Angry

Mr SlipperySlappery (Lashville North): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he can provide an assurance that future heavy aircraft platforms such as A400 and FSTA will be procurred sufficient defensive aids.

What do you think the answer to that would be? Blah blah yes of course we give a damn about our people blah blah blah.

SS

PS Nige, what you doing these days?
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Old 10th Mar 2006, 19:29
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Thank you for all your hard work with this Nige. You have the full support of everyone who knew the guys.
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Old 10th Mar 2006, 20:05
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33
SirPeterHardingsLovechild (Danger [email protected] at the Stbd Para Door) : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to confirm that the best form of defence is to have God on our side.
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Old 10th Mar 2006, 20:29
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Given that Saint Tony is invoking God,

time we all declared for another, or none.

Sven
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Old 10th Mar 2006, 21:55
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Stunning work Nige. Hope all goes well and not just pushed aside, as always!

See you at the next reunion bud.
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Old 10th Mar 2006, 22:23
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Nige

It is right to highlight the problems faced by Hercs (old and new) - not to mention ALL RAF AT - flying in-theatre. The boys and girls who fly these ac and the trusting passengers that they carry deserve so much better protection than has been afforded them in the past.
Good luck - you have my total support.

Flipster

I too, am also astounded about the lack of forethought that seems to have gone into the procurement of A400M - pitiful!
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Old 11th Mar 2006, 07:43
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Just want to say thanks for the messages of support both private and public. Sadly, there is no new K Model on the cards - that was an honest mistake by Mike Hancock...Unlike other MPs who are seeemingly happy to accept Government platitudes on the subject, Mike is very concerned about safety issues facing British military personnel and fortunately he is on the Defence Committee. I have put him straight on question 28/29! Pressure is building on the MoD. When Adam Ingram was challenged about the cancellation of the J DAS programme at the Defence Committee public hearing this week, he tried to duck the issue. In an unusual move the Chairman asked for a more considered answer and as a result the Committee was forced into private session. Now Mr Ingram and Mr Reid have got to answer some very awkward questions. Expect further developments on Hercules Foam/DAS/Ballistic Matting issues. I will post any answers on this forum just as soon as I get them. I am aware of the sensitivity of this issue but pressure has got to be maintained if the money is going to get to the front line and RAF AT crews are to get the protection they deserve. I think it is fair to say that as a result of the media interest generated so far there is no way that the slick Hercules fiasco of 31/2 years ago is going to be repeated this time round. The Chiefs of Staff will simply not get away with it.
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 07:37
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Nige,

Slick-Hercules fiasco????

I was told it was a well-supported operation that had the in-depth knowledge and intelligence (sic) back-up at the highest level of MOD - rumour has it that the DefSec and ForSec (and their aids) thought they were in fully protected aircraft - ho ho ho!

Or did we all just close our eyes and cross our fingers and sit on coils of chain while the 'emperors fiddled'?

Best of British

Flipster
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 08:31
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Flip,
I heard a little story that Geoff Hoon's face, allegedly, was a picture when he was told that he was sitting on the aircraft's defensive aids suite (a flak jacket). tee hee.
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 09:03
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I understand your concerns. With regard to the generalisations used in terminology this was entirely deliberate on my part. The MPs have been given more specific guidance as to what system is required. I have asked in my evidence to the Defence Committee that the Hercules fleet be brought to the same standard of protection. This would include ESF, DAS Flight Deck Armour. The Australian Air Force policy is not to put its AT Fleet into harms way without all of the above. I am walking a tightrope here if I had gone into specifics in public I would have been accused of endangering crews on operations. On the other hand we have all sat on chains whilst Chiefs of Staff have turned a blind eye and Ministers have told the Country that Hercules crews have full protection. Having now lost some mates I am doing my best to not lose any more. Remember that the threat in Afghanistan is already there. With regard to the questions asked by Mike Hancock I had no input. The questions are specific for very good reasons. I have made certain allegations in my evidence and they may have prompted some of the more specific questions. There are other reasons that I cannot go into at the moment. The natural instinct of the MoD is to avoid the issue. I am not sure what to expect from the PQs, but the added scrutiny is a bonus. Hope this helps, any feedback from crews doing the job on the frontline is very useful to me. I am concerned that within the fleets at Lyneham a lottery of protection is developing, this needs fixing quickly.
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 12:22
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Nige

I hear that GH was not half as much surprised as his 1* 'mil adviser' - who went a strange colour of purple. The 1* was a good guy (even if he was a bona-mate) and was genuinely shocked to hear the news - funny nonetheless!

Still, we were all hooting and roaring when we were told that 'Albert' eventually 'bit' GH before he got off the lower bunk!
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 13:59
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Flip,
In all seriousness this makes it all the more surprising to read the comments of the Minister of State for the Armed Forces in a letter to a constituent written on 07 Aug 2002.

"On the C130 Hercules aircraft engaged in Afghanistan area of operations firstly I can assure you that all C130 aircraft operating in Afghanistan are provided with a suite of defensive aids.........We are confident that for all military flights into Afghanistan appropriate self-protection measures are in place."

Maybe this is why the MoD does not comment on such matters any more....
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 17:43
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It depends on how you define 'suite' - I guess flak jackets (some without kevlar plates), coils of chain, hand-held NVGs, a sense of duty and 'the force' would probably count for MOD!

But also, I seem to remember that, for DR Congo in 2003/4, HQSTC insisted that the ac sent over there had to have 'the full monty' (barring RWR). I would like to think that AFG would be the same - I certainly hope so!

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Old 12th Mar 2006, 19:30
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Flip,
Might have something to do with the fact that on 21 Dec 2002, TB and GH were put on notice for corporate manslaughter in the event that any British military personnel were killed in action due to a lack of protective equipment. With reference to the Ingram statement that slick Hercules were equipped with a DAS in 2002, I have a funny feeling that a very senior officer at 2GP may have contributed to this deception. By the way, there is no time limit/theatre restriction to the notice of corporate manslaughter.
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 21:48
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It is becoming obvious by the PMs and Postings that there is a lot of concern out there about the level of protection of the RAF AT fleet. The Government and Chiefs of Staff know exactly what brought down XV179 last year and how to prevent it happening again. Armed with this knowledge work should have started last year on providing the Hercules fleet with Explosive Suppressant Foam. No action was taken and by agreeing to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and publishing BOI on the web, every “bad guy” in the World with an internet connection can find out how to shoot a Hercules down.

If the programme to equip the “J” with a “modern” DAS had not been cancelled in 2004, 15 additional aircraft would now have been available for deployment with a “modern” DAS. There is also an urgent need to afford passengers the protection of simple to use lightweight ballistic matting, aka our coalition partners. The failure of the Defence Chiefs and Government Ministers to provide this basic level of protection to Hercules crews and passengers deployed in hostile environments is a scandal. Their dereliction of "duty of care" leaves them open to a charge of gross negligence.
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 22:23
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FF

Bashing your head against a wall?

I think the way grope did it in 2002/3 was to pick and choose which bit of the threat matrices they wanted to believe, change the bits they didn't like and ignore the rest. At the same time, they also ignored advice from specialist personnel within the HQ - and those who were being regularly shot at - Nige for example.

However, like I've said before, the RAF didn't have the cash to update the ac, nor could they have done anything very quickly - even if the Brown-of-the-Tight-Fist had given us a blank cheque. But sadly, only those low-level specialist staff officers took the warnings seriously and, for sure, they felt like they were bashing their head against a brick wall.

So, it is suspected that people like SASO and AOC 2 Gp (and right up the chain) 'risk-managed' the whole op with our lives, while we did the best we could with what little we had. (BTW 'Risk Management' is another word for 'gambling for the sake of promotion'.)

Ok, so we took the Queen's shilling but I don't think Her Majesty would have been too impressed with the apparently cavalier way in which 2 Gp treated her AT crews (and their passengers).

Nonetheless, I could almost forgive their Lordships for 2002/3/4 but, by now, they have had some money, the knowledge and the time to have rectified the parlous state of our AT fleet (including the widebodies). If they haven't done so and then they send these ac to AFG/Iraq/Iran- then, yes, IMHO they will be negligent. One lives in hope that our hierarchy are smarter than that.
Perhaps those PQs will reveal the extent of the preparedness of our ac?


sad:

Last edited by flipster; 12th Mar 2006 at 23:24.
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Old 12th Mar 2006, 22:40
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FF

HQ 2 Gp? Tactics? Common-sense? - Now there are some words that don't often get put together in the same sentence! Ask the AWC what they think of 2 Gp!

Seriously, though, you are right - even with ALL the right kit, nothing is 'for certain' and you can't get 'invisible shields' from stores.

Having the kit, however, makes our crews' (and their passengers') chances of survival soooo much higher.

Furthermore, DIRCM or LAIRCM are very damn good compared to the old kit on some aircraft, with some limitations admittedly. Add some 'other bits and pieces' though and DIRCM is very,very good - but it wouldn't have saved 179. On the other hand, having foam or a fire suppression system would have given 179 a much better chance. But next time (Lord forbid), it may be different again.

Not getting a bit of kit for all our ac, based purely on cost, is unforgiveable. If the ac is 'not fit for purpose', it shouldn't be there!

Last edited by flipster; 12th Mar 2006 at 23:40.
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Old 13th Mar 2006, 06:26
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If anyone has any doubt about the effectiveness of foam please read the following statement. This is from a friend of mine who under the circumstances I am sure will not mind me repeating it here. This aircraft landed with fuel pouring from its wings. The crew were hit 19 times with everything up to 57mm. The ac was loaded with SF Troops and they all survived......

Our technical manuals still carry performance numbers for aircraft with and without foam, but there isn't a Herk in the USAF inventory that doesn't carry reticulated foam in the tanks. They have been in since at least the 60's, and we still replace and service this foam before any aircraft going through heavy/depot/Marshall's maintenance gets returned to the fleet. There were problems with the foam breaking up and clogging the fuel filters, but there haven't been any operational problems with it. The MC-130H that was forced down in Turkey on the first night of OIF (the crew got the PK Carlton award) took several hits in the wings with no damage other than fuel leaking out of the holes. They were engaged by everything up to 57mm at the same altitude Steady was flying. It is a miracle that only one crew has been lost taking on the risks that the USAF and DOD have avoided and eliminated through kit, training and leadership changes since 1987.

I have edited these comments.

Last edited by nigegilb; 13th Mar 2006 at 10:11.
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