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RAF buys spy planes to monitor enemies from the sky

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RAF buys spy planes to monitor enemies from the sky

Old 28th Aug 2008, 21:07
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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Somebody at the MOD bought Nimrod AEW etc etc

There is a long list of expensive equipment procured in good faith (& I dare say on occasion in the interest of a subsequent job offer) that has not met requirement targets. So the MOD must be right argument is very flawed.

Lets hope that on this occasion it is not a waste of taxpayers money because we pay that tax too.

**Edit** Beaten to it by a know-it-all, the story of my life!!
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 21:11
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Are you in the RAF too? You rather prove my point that RAF officers would turn their noses up at them - what no aircon?
And for bloody good reason too. YOU try flying in a small, enclosed cockpit in ambient temps of 50 deg C plus, whilst wearing a flak jacket, etc. Your flippant comment on this suggests to me than you have not.

Have you ever considered that ground troops go out on two-three week foot patrols, working their butts off round the clock, all without air con?
That is because they are acclimatised to the conditions, not just by virtue of the nature of their duties, but they are normally given an acclimatisation period BEFORE starting their stint. Aircrew, in OP theatres, never get the chance to acclimatise - either before or during, since their duties usually involve rapid and frequent changes in their local environmental temperature. And squaddies don't tend to spend hours sitting around in glass-topped vehicles in direct sunlight.

And you don't need highly trained and expensive dedicated aircrew to fly them - as I said you could train somebody in 100 hours ab-initio to fly one if really pressed.
My my, you REALLY have a grip on what military aviation is about, don't you? Hell, you should've put a bid in for MFTS - you could have saved MoD a fortune!

Your responses here make it clear you have never served in any of the current theatres - I'm guessing you're not even military. WHich goes a long way to explaining why you persist in thinking this plastic POS is such a good idea.....
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 21:20
  #43 (permalink)  
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I said you could train somebody in 100 hours ab-initio
Frankly, that's where the rest of us stop listening, put pencils up our nose, and shout "Wibble"

Have you actually done 100 hours in a military flying training system? Yes or no, straight answer, please.
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 22:12
  #44 (permalink)  
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They're not certified for spinning
Does the aircraft know it's not allowed to spin?

Why do you need military aviators to fly them?
Because they are undertaking military operations, would seem like a fair answer.

It is a really easy and benign aircraft to fly
In a purely civilian environment, yes.

And what do you suggest the 100 hr wonder aircrew do should they encounter a threat? Tell Terry that they are taking their ball home?

BTW, you've not answered my Q above, though anyone using the search function already knows the answer.
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 22:14
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Why all this willy waving between various hues of military aircrew? Are they not going to be flown by civilian contract pilots, hence ads in Flight etc?
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 22:16
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Going off at a slight tangent here but...

-It has an operational ceiling that is twice as high as a Seaking

-It can fly for long periods of time

-it has a slow stall speed and presumably a similar take off & landing speed

-It has 2 engines which presumably provide redundancy/survivability

Now two questions for the Techies out there - Could it (a) be Navalised and (b) Be fitted with the current SK AEW Fit?
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 22:20
  #47 (permalink)  
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Could it (a) be Navalised and (b) Be fitted with the current SK AEW Fit?
I'm no techie, but I'm sure the answer is no and no.
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 22:24
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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Re. The opening line 'R.A.F buys spylanes to monitor the enemy' - well what the hell use else are they for, flying over nudist beaches ?!

My only wonder is recent comments about lightly built carbon composite structures in high temperature environments - and no, I dont' want or expect any details here.

As for the 'pee tube,' isn't that a part of the pilot's kit from quite a while back ?

No answer expected there either, I've heard of the very unpleasant results of using fuselage built-in devices at cold high altitudes !
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 23:00
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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I have flown them in Algeria at 45C ground temperature - sweaty but ok on the ground.
Sweaty - exactly. I just checked - RH in Algiers today is 88%. Try it 10 deg hotter, with RH less than 10%. It makes a big difference, I assure you. Any extended period of time in that cockpit on the ground will kill you in those conditions. And I'm willing to bet you weren't wearing military flying kit, complete with ballistic protection, were you?

I am not claiming that you only need 100 hours to fly to the level of a military aviator, I am just pointing out that you don't need highly trained military aviators to fly DA42s. The two issues are wholly different.
So you'd be quite happy to let a 100hr PPL loose in a light aircraft in VERY busy, VERY dynamic operational airspace, would you? I'd love to see the thinks-bubble that would appear above the canopy when he calls the CRC on R/T and they reel of a list of active killboxes and ROZs......

You DO need highly trained military aviators to fly MILITARY operations in MILITARY controlled operational airspace. Anything less is putting all the other platforms that have to share the airspace at risk. Unless, of course, you are suggesting they are only operated in segregated airspace (itself a pain in the arse for other players). Where then the advantage of a manned platform (even a cheap one) Vs RPA?

It's not about 'turning our nose up' at anything - it's about some pushy company man trying to hawk a product that is totally unsuitable for it's advertised role in the environment we would need to use it. I guess this has nothing to do with the fact that the company has pretty much gone bust over it's crap engines, is it? Desperate for new customers?

Last edited by TheInquisitor; 28th Aug 2008 at 23:12.
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Old 28th Aug 2008, 23:13
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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Double zero

Re. The opening line 'R.A.F buys spylanes to monitor the enemy' - well what the hell use else are they for, flying over nudist beaches ?!

I thought the same as you, but you missed out the revolutionary part of the title.......From the sky!!! Did we really need to be told these "planes" would be used in the sky.

I can understand how some troops would jump at the chance to operate in an aircraft at only 50 Celsius. Namely the warrior born troops in Iraq who have to endure 70 Celsius (despite having air con fitted), but then both temperatures are frankly ludicrous to work in, and prove AA's point of you get what you pay for, and it seems the Brit government aren't willing to pay (export desert warriors have decent air con)

Do any of you fellow Ppruner's have the kind of memory where you recall (pre GW1) that running around in the old style flak vest was considered too hot for the English summer. Sat here as an armchair general, I not only take my hat off to the lads and lasses in hot places, but am totally stunned at how effective they are, given the conditions they find themselves in. (sorry for thread drift)

Barnstormer1968
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 00:18
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Not all ISTAR is equal

Max. Operating Altitude 18,000 ft (Details)

SA-14 (Details)

Stinger (Details)

Average height of terrain in Helmand/Khandahar?

Volunteers ?

However, the frame is but one tiny element of what it's there for. Primary requirement is to provide ISTAR not just S or TA. Whilst all elements are required in varying amounts throughout a mission there appears to be little thought given to the I or R (recce = recording of data for subsequent analysis or even rebuttal purposes).

Having 'kill-TV' is nice for the commander, but if you can't record or analyse it you have got to ask whether the risk is worth it for nothing more than looking 'round the next corner' when Desert Eagle could do the same for much less.

As for military v civilian crews comment above, how will we explain away the fire co-ordination role or [email protected] designation of a civvy PPL in terms of delegated lethal force authority?
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 08:38
  #52 (permalink)  
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Re. The opening line 'R.A.F buys spylanes to monitor the enemy' - well what the hell use else are they for, flying over nudist beaches ?!

I thought the same as you, but you missed out the revolutionary part of the title.......From the sky!!! Did we really need to be told these "planes" would be used in the sky.
Well, you have to remember that the headline is the Beeb's work and that they have a duty to enlighten Joe Public.
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 08:51
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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50 degrees, Body Armour, small glass cockpit, no aircon? Welcome to the world of AH/SH pilots who've been operating in the thick of the threat band at low level in tightly regulated airspace in Iraq / Afg since 02. I did plenty of 8-9 hour tasking days in Iraq with ambient temperatures of 45+ (and cockpit temperatures well above 50), with no facility for keeping cold fluids on board and often with no opportunity for unstrapping. How did we cope? We lived in tents (no aircon) and acclimatised properly; yes it was uncomfortable but we were fully aware that our "suffering" was substantially less than that of our customers.

8 hours at 10k plus with a few cold drinks? (Relatively) easy money...

At 10k plus with low visual/acoustic signature the ac will be hard to acquire visually for a MANPAD shot, then, I'd imagine, quite hard to lock as it'll have low airframe heating (plastic and low speed) and low engine exhaust signatures.
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 14:37
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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Zeppellins, dirigibles, airships - that's what you want. Stay up for days, and you can hang a gondola underneath, add a galley, toilet, bunks, sofa and tv. Relatively cheap as chips too; do I get 25 quid?
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 15:26
  #55 (permalink)  
 
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These aircraft may fly missions without the constant threats that AH/SH face, but the fatigue issues are considerable. They will have to remain airborne for very long periods without any respite, the missions will be mundane and busy a flypro will wear the crews down. Good crew rest will be essential for flight safety on sustained Ops, we will be out there for many years to come.
Although aircon might prevent full aclimatisation, it is essential if you need to sleep in the heat of the day. The effects of heat and fatigue will degrade anyone, and eventually lead to an incident.
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 22:16
  #56 (permalink)  
 
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You can teach anyone to fly a simple aircraft in a fairly short space of time. However, to operate it effectively it takes years of experience. Don't forget, it is not just the aircraft and its systems you have to think about, but the whole battle picture and all the potential implications of your actions.

I suggest that experience is even more important where you have so few assets of its type [ie 2 x Twin Stars; 3 x Nimrod R1], which may also be called upon to operate in highly sensitive areas.

I would also request that we stop this inter-service and inter-rank pissing match. We are all in the same boat - remember jointery? And frankly, I don't give a damn what rank the guy is, so long as he is capable of doing the job. What rank are the VCs and GCs that have been dished out in recent years?
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Old 30th Aug 2008, 14:27
  #57 (permalink)  
 
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Sweaty - exactly. I just checked - RH in Algiers today is 88%. Try it 10 deg hotter, with RH less than 10%. It makes a big difference, I assure you. Any extended period of time in that cockpit on the ground will kill you in those conditions.
Poppycock! What do you think the AAC have been doing for the last 4 years!

And I'm willing to bet you weren't wearing military flying kit, complete with ballistic protection, were you?
Yep, that to!

A lot of criticism from so called experts. It's obvious that few, if any of you have operated this type of capability in that kind of environment. Uncomfortable? Yes! Need preparation? Definately! Unacheivable? Absolutely not!

I doubt that this plastic thingy is a viable long term solution, but it would be better than nothing and nothing is pretty much what we've got at the moment
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Old 31st Aug 2008, 09:59
  #58 (permalink)  
 
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What with Zephyr and Mantis just around the corner this option has got to be a 1-2yr stop-gap?

This is Mantis - it reminds me of a prop driven A-10 without a bod inside it...

...And as it has been said so many times before "you get what you pay for"!



The Phase 1 Mantis vehicle, expected to fly in 2009, will be powered by two Rolls-Royce's RB250 turboprop engines, although this is likely to change in later variants, and is intended to have at least 24-hour endurance. Phase 1 is intended to demonstrating BAE Systems' rapid prototyping capabilities and will focus on the evaluation of autonomous control systems. Later phases may evaluate civilian applications, armed variants and sensor packages.

The large dome on the front, reminiscent of a pilot's canopy, contains an upward facing satellite communications system.
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Old 31st Aug 2008, 10:11
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Has anyone thought that the purchase may be for ops where UAVs are not currently allowed to operate? Furthermore, it may not be for capability enhancement within well known operational theatres, it may be for other, more traditional assets to be released for those theatres.

Just a thought, no evidence, blue (thundery) sky thinking.
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Old 10th Sep 2008, 09:25
  #60 (permalink)  
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The US Solution

From an article on Flight Global

A small fleet of manned propeller-driven spyplanes is being rushed into action by the US Air Force. The fleet will be equipped with signals intelligence sensors and cameras that will eventually provide a substantial increase to an urgently needed full-motion video capability in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Three squadrons of RC-12 turboprops - likely to be twin-engined Beechcraft King Air 350s - could join other surveillance aircraft in January 2009 in a USAF programme dubbed "Project Liberty".
A better bet than the UK's solution? Looks like they will be in theatre first.
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