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Will Puma Survive?

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Will Puma Survive?

Old 4th Feb 2012, 22:23
  #221 (permalink)  
 
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Correct - and it will be a costly process to give it one, I suspect.
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Old 4th Feb 2012, 22:48
  #222 (permalink)  
MG
 
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There will certainly be a cost involved, which is why there will be an optimisation first, before the full monty. The Mk3s will all need an MLU soon, so that's an opportunity for the RN getting a good amount of the work done.

They would never have been asked such a question as the ac does not presently have a clearance to operate from a ship.
why does not having a clearance stop someone from asking a question? It will have, so the question is relevant.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 06:58
  #223 (permalink)  
 
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MG
It is a relevant question. But. The bit that you posted earlier about Cdr JHC asking the light blue Merlin Force whether they wanted to go to sea (and no one raising their hand), is I'm afraid, utter tosh. Urban myth. It never happened. Some one, somewhere has made it up.

The present Mk 3 force are like everyone else in the military. Can do. They go where they are told. Given the choice between going to sea and returning to the great desert f&&k all(again) they would probably choose the former. The choice between going to sea and keeping their jobs is a no brainer.

However, if they are only going to ship optimise a quarter of the fleet because the mid life programme to upgrade the cockpit is so hideously expensive (and this is before you pay for any ship optimisation), why not just buy new cabs for the junglies?

Last edited by high spirits; 5th Feb 2012 at 07:11.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 07:33
  #224 (permalink)  
 
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It is a relevant question. But. The bit that you posted earlier about Cdr JHC asking the light blue Merlin Force whether they wanted to go to sea (and no one raising their hand), is I'm afraid, utter tosh. Urban myth. It never happened. Some one, somewhere has made it up.
As an outsider looking in, I must confess that statement did raise an eyebrow or two. The questions I was asking myself was all about being in a military service, discipline, orders etc.

'Would you like to go to work today?'

'Do you fancy flying to Afghanistan?'

'Do you fancy spending six months aboard HMS Ocean?'

I was always under the impression that we are a disciplined, military service, we are given orders and if lawful then the first words that come out of our mouth will be, "Yes sir\ma'am" (trying to get used to she-males giving lawful orders)

Reading some of the posts on this thread tempts me to throw a thought into the pot..

With all this internal competitiveness\rivalry\bickering, do we ever envisage a situation where the Ministry of Defence screams enough is enough and disbands the Navy, Army and Air Force and we start afresh with the Defence Force of Great Britain? I shudder at the very thought but if we cannot get our acts together then will this be a horrible option?
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 08:21
  #225 (permalink)  
 
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The bickering you refer to does not take place on the shop floor. SH be it jungly or RAF is always can do.

The mid life update for Merlin mk3 is going to waste a lot of money. It will be spent on, amongst other things, a new cockpit to harmonise the fleet. Utterly unnecessary. It has the best cockpit of all SH assets at the moment and will still be the best after Puma 2 and Chinook mk4/5 because it is FMS based and not just a digital representation of what was analogue.

What it really needs are better engines, a meatier tail rotor and a new gearbox. The present mid life update is already very expensive and does not include the money needed to enable it to operate at sea for a limited time.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 08:41
  #226 (permalink)  
 
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The bickering you refer to does not take place on the shop floor. SH be it jungly or RAF is always can do.
Highly trained, highly motivated, extremely professional sums up ALL crews of all aircraft from ALL services but the bickering is there for all to see and I am definitely NOT going to point finger, thumb or foot in any direction regarding who is responsible for this issue.

Respect to one and ALL
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 08:49
  #227 (permalink)  
 
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Well let's get a few things straight here.....

Of course we are in the military and if HM Queen says go to sea for 6 months of the year then so be it, but lets be clear about 3 things. One is make sure that me and my colleagues are properly trained, if you really want a contingency force of wokkas or Merlins, then you will have to resource the training properly. Secondly, in the 6 months I am back in UK if you think that I then going to play a part in the Army exercise schedule with many weekends away or even day running to Salisbury Plain, you will soon lose me.

As to losing our jobs-remember, it is highly unlikely that any RAF aircrew have or will lose their jobs. If the Air Manners really did think that they couldn't manage the outflow of aircrew by natural wastage and creative posts (like the new international RAF kipper fleet), then I am sure that they would have made at least one of us redundant over one of the last 2 redundancies announcements.

Finally, I did not sign up for life at sea-of course I will do it, and have already done it on numerous occasions, but given the choice I would much rather the Fisheads to do it. And this is where we have to be honest in that the majority of the future cost to Merlin is not the marinisation upgrades, but just in keeping the Merlin force flying-whichever Service operates the fleet.

Now as to everyone getting fed up with the inter service rivalry, for christs sake, about bloody time that something gets done as I think we will all agree this is negative, corrosive and reducing operational capability as the mutual trust has all but vanished.

I quite like the idea of a Defence Helicopter Command, one SDH and ODH for all rotary. If CGS has the experience and qualifications to be the one proper Rotary Wing SDH then great, but personally I think CAS should be, especially as it looks as though future CAS' will be from a rotary background. Certainly the MAA see that qualifications and experience as key to duty holder roles.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 09:11
  #228 (permalink)  
 
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"What it really needs are better engines, a meatier tail rotor and a new gearbox"

Simples, just make the tail rotor bigger and rotate it through 90 degrees....a two-type SH force HAS to be the target; Merlin exists purely to answer the question "how do we keep AW in business" not "what the best force mix for future SH capability".

I'd agree that the Merlin Mk3 cockpit is better integrated in some ways. However, it's not fully integrated. FMS driven cockpits are fine to the user but an utter pain for PTs/CAPs trying to upgrade quickly - it becomes very expensive and difficult to do so due to the "electronic spaghetti" linking it all together. The new Chinook/Puma cockpits are federated systems for good reason. Major sub-systems are effectively "firewalled" so that rapid upgrades to Comms/DAS/NavAids can be done without extensive and expensive regression testing and can therefore deliver capability quicker (in theory...)

I think the fundemental question is not being asked; this needs to be "how can we best deliver LitM from a LPH/LPD" not "how can we keep CHF in existence as it is today". The answer, IMHO, is "seeded" FAA crews into CH47, AH, Wildcat (Green) and Puma 2 units - perhaps as constituted flights, such that a TAG of suitably qualified (and motivated) aviators with a broad spectrum of platforms and capabilities can deploy in the appropriate force mix.

It'll never happen; this all boils down to SO1 and above Command positions, not capability.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 09:43
  #229 (permalink)  
 
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Eval,
I hear what you are saying, but....

Why bother with a new cockpit when it already has a perfectly good one for its SH role. Would the money not be better spent buying new than just ship optimising a slack handful of the fleet so that it can look good on a 'procedure alpha'. Because without better engines, tail rotor and gearbox that is all it will ever be good at.

As for time at sea, I agree with you and didn't sign up for it either. However, suggesting that the mk3 force somehow stood in front of the 2 star and said that they wouldn't go to sea is utter tosh.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 09:58
  #230 (permalink)  
 
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The answer, IMHO, is "seeded" FAA crews into CH47, AH, Wildcat (Green) and Puma 2 units - perhaps as constituted flights, such that a TAG of suitably qualified (and motivated) aviators with a broad spectrum of platforms and capabilities can deploy in the appropriate force mix.
I think AOC 3Gp/FOMA and the JFH may've put paid to that idea from the Dark Blue side.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 10:02
  #231 (permalink)  
 
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HS,
I agree - however, the arguement for changing the Mk3 cockpit is more to do with driving commonality with the Mk2 to save money through-life, and to address any obsolescence issues it may have. The real error was not latching on to the work AW did on the VH-71 (and perhaps buying the airframes?) and using it as a basis for Merlin CSP. It doesn't alter the fact that it is an expensive oddity in the UK SH/BH force and one that is tolerated purely on political rather than capability terms. I think it's an interesting question to ask CHF mates what they'd rather fly - Merlin as a CHF NAS or Chinook/Puma/AH as a constituted flight; the answers I've got back are split both ways - usually dependant on Career aspirations.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 10:04
  #232 (permalink)  
 
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I am getting concerned that some folks might be of the opinion that I am suggesting the RAF accept that they might be ordered to set sail and disappear over the horizon for an extended period... Far from it and I totally agree with those that state they did not join up to go to sea. I have NO issues whatsoever with that sentiment.

Hopefully EVERYONE will understand I am just putting forward points that I consider worthy of debate.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 10:16
  #233 (permalink)  
 
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A classic circular argument..

Without better engines, tail rotor and gearbox....and with only a few Merlin mk3 able to operate at sea, the RAF wokka force will have to go to sea anyway, come the day of the races. Just as they did for Sierra Leone and Iraq.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 14:20
  #234 (permalink)  
 
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So let me just get this right, and please correct me if I am wrong, but based upon the posts so far it looks like:

From a capability perspective CHF should be disbanded amongst all JHC aircraft types.
Merlin should not 'waste' money on cockpit upgrades, but in upgrading engines, gear box, drive trains and tail rotors etc.

Does that mean then:

Do we really need amphibious forces should be the question, before we ask how we marinise and crew the aircraft. The whole environment is very risky anyway, why don't we just use land SH and AH to bounce off a deck when and if required (why do we have to waste 6 months of the year bobbing around at sea, why not tip up, use the deck for the op and then come home, with grey funnel lines picking us up at the nearest willing port?).

Another option could be to give CHF the CH47 that have the ship clearances (if they think they are getting our new buy, they have another thing coming!!).

Acknowledging that the mighty wokka is not the solution for everything that Defence wants but is a JHC fleet mix of Puma and CH47 the solution for medium/heavy lift, especially now that Puma has been made safe.

But, being fair if CHF is absorbed across the whole of JHC, does that mean that we in the light blue and also the green jobs forsake our uniform (either a true defence helciopter force, under a Defence Helicopter Command) or do we accept that we all come under either the RAF or AAC?

Should a Defence Helciopter Command fall under JFC, permanently tied to RAF for the duty holder persepctive (especially if we are to lose our ISTAR assets to JFC)?

As to the wager from Tourist, when one of our serious air ships (CAS, CINC or AMP) goes to Benson and publicly tells the lads and lasses there that Merlin is transferring to the RN in entirety, I will both eat my hat, and never post again. Until that point then I believe that we will happily use the ambiguity not to commit to too much - CDS, VCDS will all change soon, possibly a Secretary of State for Defence again, maybe a Prime Minister, with another SDSR just around the corner.

Lots of lovely ambiguity, half efforts, intents and platitudes

Last edited by MaroonMan4; 5th Feb 2012 at 14:46.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 15:13
  #235 (permalink)  
 
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I find this 'debate' odd, because it is no debate at all. Just a selection of of RAF SH mates actually driving the very inter-service rivalry they claim does not exist.

Note please how few of us dark blue types have entered the 'debate' or even tried to take the opportunity to point out the foibles of the various proposals laid bare here.

The policy remains thus for FF2020 and has not changed since SDSR:

Puma2 continues
CH4/5/6 continues
Mer3 goes to CHF
Additional CH buy continues
SAR goes civvy

The only reason P2 was up for debate was some interesting cost deltas against the originally quoted and budgeted price.

It would be nice if the RAF actually followed policy rather than ranged against it.

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Old 5th Feb 2012, 15:43
  #236 (permalink)  
 
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Until that point then I believe that we will happily use the ambiguity not to commit to too much - CDS, VCDS will all change soon, possibly a Secretary of State for Defence again, maybe a Prime Minister, with another SDSR just around the corner.
So, more cavilling rather than mutiny? Oh well, what the Hell!
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 16:31
  #237 (permalink)  
 
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the RAF wokka force will have to go to sea anyway, come the day of the races. Just as they did for Sierra Leone and Iraq.
And Afghanistan*, and the Falklands I believe.


* I seem to remember the welcome in Bagram, Kabul and the Panjshir valley started with a volley of rocks but was still warmer than that on the O Boat (Standfast Illustrious who were fantastic but had to head home after 7 months).
If the Dark Blue are serious about operating CH off of decks, perhaps they need to seek advice from the 2nd Sea Lord about hospitality, as he could have taught those on the O Boat a great deal. It's a 2 way street.
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 17:10
  #238 (permalink)  
 
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when one of our serious air ships (CAS, CINC or AMP) goes to Benson and publicly tells the lads and lasses there that Merlin is transferring to the RN in entirety, I will both eat my hat, and never post again
Is that because you believe that the Merlin is staying with the RAF, or because you think it is going to the CHF but that none of the brass will actually bother to go to Benson to give 28 & 78 the bad news? I only ask because there is a bet riding on the outcome...
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Old 5th Feb 2012, 18:50
  #239 (permalink)  
 
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The latter is my bet.
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Old 6th Feb 2012, 07:53
  #240 (permalink)  
 
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when one of our serious air ships (CAS, CINC or AMP) goes to Benson and publicly tells the lads and lasses there that Merlin is transferring to the RN in entirety, I will both eat my hat, and never post again

Several announcements in Parliament not being enough then!

Latest from Hansard on 23 Jan 12:

Questions
Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Astor of Hever on 18 July 2011 (WA 226), 11 August 2011 (WA 456), and 10 January (WA 2), when is the next conversion course after March 2012; and how many Royal Navy aircrew will be on that course.[HL14677]

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Astor of Hever on 18 July 2011 (WA 226), 11 August 2011 (WA 456), and 10 January (WA 2), what is the planned date for completing conversion training; and when will the Merlin Mk3 become fully part of the Commando helicopter force.[HL14678]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): In accordance with the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) Lift Transition Plan, the current intention is that the second Merlin Mk 3 conversion course will commence in September 2012. Similar to the initial course, there will be 12 Royal Navy personnel on this course, comprising three aircrews. The majority of conversion training is forecast to be completed in late 2016.

Under current planning, Merlin Mk 3 will transfer to the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) when the Commanding Officer CHF assumes the responsibility as Support Helicopter Merlin Delivery Duty Holder, anticipated to be in financial year 2014-15.
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