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2 Group Commercial Arm

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2 Group Commercial Arm

Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:17
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2 Group Commercial Arm

OK, new thread required here after various arguments on Libya threads.

But whatever the merits or dismerits of those arguments, there does appear to be a gap between the capability of commercial operators, and the political deployability of military assets, particularly in degenerating political situations. Would a commercial arm of 2 Group be able to plug the gap?

Let us imagine that our existing 2 Group fleet was partially "civilianised", and some aircraft were available for charter at commercial rates. The advantages I see are as follows:
1) All aircrew would need to be civilian licensed - not unpopular! But would still get all the top operational flying practice that truckies enjoy - if not deployed commercially.
2) Aircrew would get plenty of diverse destinations - no need to justify going to Libya for "practice".
3) Some aircraft could be painted in civilian dayglo colours, so not regarded as threatening, and less risk of being mistaken as hostile, as occurred with the C130 shot at going into Libya. They would still be available for wartime reserve if necessary. This is the model followed by Civil Guards in some European countries, eg Securité Civile in France.
4) RAF would not be seen as taking trade from commercial operators, if they started moving in on commercial operators in slowly degenerating situations such as have occured in Libya - they would justifiably be regarded as a more muscular, robust service, available to be called upon - at a premium - as situation degrades.
5) Commercial status would stop rich companies such as oil companies and banks relying on taxpayer to evacuate their employees in situations of civil unrest - it would force companies to plan responsibly, and pay commercial rates if they misplanned.
6) HMG and FCO would have published guidelines to deploy commercial RAF aircraft - instead of being bounced into action by tabloid trial. There would also be clear guidelines as to when HMG started picking up the bill.
7) Commercial status would probably enable 2 Group to update their aircraft more regularly - no flying around in relics.

OK, just an idea scribbled out in a few minutes - but I don't see much dismerit in the idea.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:25
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RAF would not be seen as taking trade from commercial operators
In all the news surrounding this storm in a teacup it's only you banging this drum.

Not many others of relevance think they are.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:29
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In all the news surrounding this storm in a teacup it's only you banging this drum.

Not many others of relevance think they are.
OK, small brained person, let us imagine scenarios in the future where such a situation might occur.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:36
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Let's not so that we can keep planning for future events close to our chest.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:36
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I don't think you've listed a single benefit to the MoD (but several downsides are apparent) of your approach.

What are the merits again in cost or capability?
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:43
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For starters, it would take the lawyers a decade to sort out how that would fit in with the Chicago Convention, if at all.

Secondly, as has to be asked with any PFI, you would need enough redundancy so as not to endanger charter ops for ad hoc mil ops. That sort of redundancy is unjustifiable in fleet-size terms these days. How would you insure against losing charter tasks when mil ops take precedence? Could you compete with genuine charter ops without that uncertainty?

If you're serious about using them for combat ops and not just Strat, then RoE enter the fray. Not for the crews but for those carried onboard for protection. (Read Blackwater for a good explanation of the dilemmas of merc ops!)

The chance of varied flying would appeal to many at the moment though!
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:43
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JFZ90 - Perhaps you could start by listing the downsides and the costs, then I could respond?

Uncle Ginsters - hasn't there already been a precedent with the status of FSTA? Or - for example - the Securité Civile in France?

It would not be impossible to register some aircraft on the civil register (after all, most C130s are not armed) and have them flown by crew who are part "civilian" and part "military", depending on the operation. There are plenty of precedents for that too - how do you explain the status of ex-RAF crew flying for Virgin, who still have reservist status, or TA soldiers, who happen to fly commercially for their civilian job? The Chicago convention was based on immediate post WW2 definitions of civil/military aviation which have been continually blurred since. Whatever the detail, it is not an insurmountable legislative obstacle.


Secondly, as has to be asked with any PFI, you would need enough redundancy so as not to endanger charter ops for ad hoc mil ops. That sort of redundancy is unjustifiable in fleet-size terms these days. How would you insure against losing charter tasks when mil ops take precedence? Could you compete with genuine charter ops without that uncertainty
That is a worthwhile argument - but that is exactly why you would have to carefully word and design the rules of commercial engagement as well as the rules of operational engagement. If such rules were in place, it would have avoided the recent situation where HMG were embarassingly bounced into deploying the RAF into Libya by tabloid trial, rather than through clear, transparent progression of government policy.

Besides, HMG has flown aircraft almost more or less continuously in far more blatant breach of Chicago Convention since 1944, as you might be aware..

Last edited by Trim Stab; 28th Feb 2011 at 21:01.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:46
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I have got it - you ARE in the RAF and are probably a 1*!

Tis is the system's way of announcing something called New Management Strategy that worked so well last time! NMS is dead - long live NMS.

Very clever....

G
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 20:51
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OK, small brained person, let us imagine scenarios in the future where such a situation might occur.
What, scenarios that the RAF are stealing commercial business? No thanks, I'll stick to reality chump.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:01
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hasn't there already been a precedent with the status of FSTA? Or - for example - the Securité Civile in France?
Maybe so. I am not a legalist and neither, dare i suggest, are you.

I do know that it was a major headache in the contract process and comes with significant limitations (of which i know no more detail, sadly!)

Post-WWII maybe, but it's still the major aviation statute in International Law and had been revised several times (in 1959, 1963, 1969, 1975, 1980, 1997, 2000 and 2006) so isn't that outdated!

As for HMG breaching it, you show your naivety - Article 3 clearly states that the Convention is not applicable to State aircraft.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:03
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"our existing 2 Group fleet was partially "civilianised", and some aircraft were available for charter at commercial rates"
Well for a start that means that part of the fleet would not longer be military - so are you:

a) assuming that there are an excess of e.g. C130 assets that are not needed? or
b) are you advocating buying more civil aircraft on top of the existing military ones?

a) is false to anyone with any sort of appreciation of reality, and
b) would obviously cost more. The end.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:07
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Uncle Ginsters - it is an unenforceable treaty to all practical purposes.

But yesterday an RAF pilot had a close escape when a bullet bounced off his helmet, because the Libyan rebels mistook the obviously military aircraft for a Libyan loyalist aircraft. If the aircraft had been carrying out the role in a conspicuous colour scheme, clearly identifying it as civilian, this might not have occured. And what was its purpose anyway? The aircraft had no military role - it was carrying out civilian evacuation.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:17
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Well for a start that means that part of the fleet would not longer be military - so are you:
Not at all. They would be dual-role, with civilian status in peacetime, military status if war was declared. This is not without precedent - look at French Securité Civile or Gendarmerie aircraft. In the UK, the crews could be entirely interchangeable without breaching any treaty - there are many army/RN/RAF reservists (ie still under contract to MOD) flying as we write on civilian aircraft, as well as many volunteer reservists (TA/RNR/RMR/RAuxAF) who also happen to by civilian pilots in their full time job. The Chicago Convention makes no distinction at all between these differing statuses. The crew could switch, as required between the fleet aircraft.

As for the aircraft themselves, these can also be dual registered - as you know plenty of RAF aircraft are also on the civil register.

The issue of the Chicago Convention is a red-herring.

a) assuming that there are an excess of e.g. C130 assets that are not needed? or
The C130 fleet might be stretched in 2011, but I am looking at the bigger picture in the future.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:18
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Before you whinge about how many Deutchy-Markies you've potentially lost because of the RAF flying dangerous roles, remind me again of the paint scheme applied to the DHL Airbus A300 that was SAM'd over Baghdad.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:21
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So which existing assets exactly would you civilianise? List the types, and justify the extra costs of a new ac type while you're at it.

Edit - ha ha - you listed c130 only needed in 2011 - so next time they are needed in these numbers and we've flogged em we do what - borrow them!?
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:24
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"If the aircraft had been carrying out the role in a conspicuous colour scheme, clearly identifying it as civilian, this might not have occurred."

or it might not have occurred because said charters insurer wouldn't be willing to cover the trip in the first place!

Civvy charter has been used extensively in Libya some paid for by employers such as bp and some by the foreign office which the pax will have had to pay for!
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:32
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Before you whinge about how many Deutchy-Markies you've potentially lost because of the RAF flying dangerous roles, remind me again of the paint scheme applied to the DHL Airbus A300 that was SAM'd over Baghdad.
Thanks for bringing up that incident - it proves my argument on many fronts! First, Iraq was a totally different set of circumstances to what is happening in Libya - Iraqi resistance had regressed way beyond the situation that is current in Libya - they were opposed to all foreign intervention. It was exactly the opportunity that a commercial arm of 2 group could have exploited.

I don't know whether you were in Iraq, but did it never occur to you the irony of watching a blacked out UK or UK military doing a steep approach into BIA, with chaff spouting out of the back, then watching a civilian airliner three minutes later flying down the ILS with landing lights on? The civ pilots were taking much more risk - as the DHL incident showed - they were the only aircraft who took a direct hit as far as I can remember.

Now imagine that the RAF had been flying the DHL contract into Baghdad, with a C17, able to do steep approaches, with full passive defences? I suspect that DHL would have far preferred to be able to hire and insure an aircraft that was properly equipped to fly into a threatened airfield than a civilian aircraft that was forced to fly a 3 degree ILS without defensive aids!
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:38
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So are you saying more mil AT or less? Your posts are contradictory!
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:40
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Civvy charter has been used extensively in Libya some paid for by employers such as bp and some by the foreign office which the pax will have had to pay for!
Well done for mentioning BP - they are a professional company, who employ competent ex FCO and SIS personnel as their strategic security advisers, competent ex-Army officers (usually about Colonel level) as their tactical planners who put in place contingency plans for all their vulnerable installations, competent WO1s as local executive officers to carry out those plans at each location, and loads of ex RM/Para junior NCOs as on-site security officers. As you say, they have planned properly and are paying the correct commercial price for evacuation.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of oil companies who have not put in place professional contingency plans because they didn't want to pay for professional servicies and did not want to pay for insurance - and now the RAF is coming to their "rescue" to great public fanfare. The RAF should take into account the penalty paid by well-run companies before they subsidise badly run companies - that is why I suggest they set up a commercial arm.
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Old 28th Feb 2011, 21:46
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So are you saying more mil AT or less? Your posts are contradictory!
If AT had a commercial arm- you would soon have a lot more toys, and a lot more modern than the rubbish 2 Group fly currently.

As an example, UK must be the only country in the world where the Head of State (in our case whether HMQ and PM) does not have a decent fleet of BizJets. If the Royal Flight was put on a commercial basis, you could probably have in no short order a BBJ, F900 and a fleet of smaller jets - all flown by RAF when on state duty, but contracted out commercially when off-state duty. Instead, the Royal Household has to occasionally hire commercial aircraft from operators chosen by Thatcherite competive tender - which can be conceivably be flown by any old duff pilot like me.

Last edited by Trim Stab; 28th Feb 2011 at 21:59.
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