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James Blunt: Britain's failure to get troops into battle (theatre) is pitiful

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James Blunt: Britain's failure to get troops into battle (theatre) is pitiful

Old 8th Mar 2012, 07:22
  #41 (permalink)  
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Jinda - Masirah, Akrotiri, Gan, Tengah, Changhi, Goose, El Adem (as was) and others I am sure.

It is true that it might have been possible to get charter to fly there but I suspect that the aircraft were used for PCF rather than straight pax and there might have been dipclear issues carrying military freight on civilan aircraft.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 07:49
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Like so many other commentators here, I initially took exception to JB's article but felt, by the end of it, he had hit most of the key points (ISS B - see me!). He has some credibility, having served in the Podjevo basin at a difficult time with the 'friendly' Serbs.

However, the RAF has not sat around idly waiting for the transport fleet to drop out of the sky. FSTA, as was, was initiated many years ago and finally signed off as the largest MOD PFI by Sir Glenn Torpy. He freely admitted that it was the biggest mortgage the RAF had ever taken out, but it was the only means by which a new long-term capability could be delivered. Meanwhile, a considerable amount of effort has been put in to deliver the A400M, but the delays have been outwith the RAF's purview. And of course, a new C-17 has been announced. I'm sure there are other, more compentant commentators who can refresh PPruners on the progress of these projects.

It would seem an elegant solution to lease/buy some not-so-old civilian acft and use these to fill the void that is opening due to our aging fleet. However. the RAF, ever conscious of its duty of care (!), requires transport acft entering Theatre to met minimum self-protection standards, against SAA and MANPADS threats. Clearly I'm not going to reveal what these are, but suffice to say, these are not off-the-shelf, bolt-on solutions, but require a considerable amount of design and engineering effort (and therefore cost and time) to install. And that's not even beginning on any avionics upgrades that might be required. For these reasons alone, this is why it is not practical for the RAF - indeed, any airforce - to rotate its transport fleet every few years like Sleasy Jet or Ryan Air.

Using hub and spoke (ie TacT for the last leg) again seems a simple solution, and of course it is used where practicable. However, consider the cycles - and amount of cross-decking effort - that a C130J would need to go through to move a full Tri* load of pax and freight, or similar. Again, apart from the effort (and additional TacT airframes that would be required) statistically there is a greater liklihood of snags and acft failures and greater exposure to the bad guys on the ground (through more movements).

Just something to think about.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 08:48
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Another example of extreme waste and lack of imagination at the MOD.
Where else in the world are commercial outfits using VC10's and Tristars?? Sell them (if you can) and buy a few 747-400's (ex Singare maybe).
James Blunt's music is awful (IMHO) but the man himself has an excellent point here. He eventually turned around and didn't go out there. How bloody embarrasing is that??
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 08:55
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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However, consider the cycles - and amount of cross-decking effort - that a C130J would need to go through to move a full Tri* load of pax and freight, or similar.
This is what used to be done during Telic RIPs before the Tri* had DAS fitted. Three C130Js to move the Tri*'s load from Al Udeid into theatre.

But that was before 10 years of constant effort by the C130 force, with engineering support 'leaned' & no investment in spares, ground the aircraft (and the crews) into the dirt.

For far too long more has been taken out than has been put in which is why we are in this mess across the whole AT world. The crews do their best but when nearly half of all sorties are lost due to 'engineering issues'..........
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 10:55
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Having served for 17 years with No 10 Sqn VC10, towards the end of my time I was becoming more and more angry with having to let down my 'customers'. Moreover, as captain I carried the buck most of the time and caught huge amounts of flack.

A good example was when waiting in Washington to pick up the incoming Ten from UK and take it to Belize, I was told it had turned back to Brize with engine failure. It arrived 24 hrs later at KIAD. I actually arrived in Belize some 23 hrs late on the original schedule (having made up one whole hour that day). Image my annoyance when I got a full blast from a very ignorant Brigadier who had missed his dinner party in the UK. Quote 'Why did I not charter an aeroplane to ensure he was picked up on time'

Worst still, my Stn Cdr demanded a full explanation from me as to why I was late!

But I can understand Blunt's frustration and that of the troops waiting to come home. But they, like Blunt, should shoot the MOD, not the crew.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 11:15
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The logical step would be to create a (C) RAF to absorb troop/ air transport elements of the RAF.

Or do you need a defence budget the size of the United States to create a Civil Reserve Air Fleet.

CRAF
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 11:45
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Mr Blunt has said nothing new, but often it takes a “celebrity” to make the press print a story. So good for him.

There are a number of excellent points made, but a few old fallacies regarding PFI. It was first foisted on MoD by the last Tory government. Labour simply carried it forward. This is the most telling post;

FSTA, as was, was initiated many years ago and finally signed off as the largest MOD PFI by Sir Glenn Torpy. He freely admitted that it was the biggest mortgage the RAF had ever taken out, but it was the only means by which a new long-term capability could be delivered.
When PFI was announced, it was clear to all that imposing it in isolation upon any project that had got past Concept / Assessment would cause huge delays. The increased through life cost was a given; and it was equally clear the intent was to delay expenditure. In practical terms, a short term cut in the defence budget, while mortgaging ourselves to the hilt. Broon, rightly, gets a lot of the blame for this, but he was by no means the first.



However, the original rules included a number of criteria that had to be met. One was “overseas sales potential”. No such potential? A 5 minute job to write an A5 memo (which dates the policy, as we didn’t have PCs or printers!) and you had your PFI waiver. Crack on, meet the ISD. This overseas sales potential requirement was an implicit acknowledgment that PFI cost more, so one needed to demonstrate a compensatory source of funding (to at least UK plc). It was not an excuse to avoid PFI, it was a fundamental requirement before proceeding. So, how many Apache simulators did we sell overseas? I know that companies suddenly included wildly optimistic overseas projections in bids, which impressed the Treasury and Stars but not anyone sensible.



What Torpy’s admission (above) reveals is the top brass rolling over when PFI was increasingly imposed on MoD, as the Treasury realised many in MoD were so career orientated (or just plain stupid) when signing up to PFI, knowing very well it would delay ISD and waste billions but never saying anything. It was Torpy’s job, and that of his fellow Stars, to see this policy for what it was and speak up. Perhaps he did, but not very loudly. It wasn’t “the only way”, because at the same time he and his colleagues were overseeing waste on a monumental scale and doing nothing; something confirmed by MoD’s own auditors in 1996. And, as finally admitted by MoD last year, waste increases risk to life.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 12:14
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What we have here is possibly 'yes men\women' being promoted to flag rank. How many times do we hear a flag officers complaining about lack of resources. I accept it is not the best way to remain in office and who will recommend that type of character for flag rank? There must come a time when both men and honour come before self interest, those in command need to read that article and ASK the correct questions and demand honest answers. Any service is only as good as its leadership, good leaders are those that care about the interest, welfare of those they put in harms way.

If the equipment being used is worn out, unreliable or even well past its sell by date then who is it that states enough and no further? Is it the likes of James Blunt or the man being paid to command?

Interesting that no one in authority has highlighted the issues raised by someone that was prepared to freely give their time to entertain our troops. It looks to me like we were unable to perform the simple task of getting not just James Blunt from 'a' to 'b' but EVERYONE aboard that aircraft. Not a situation we can be proud of!

What has happened to our military, I once flew home from Sydney on an RAF VC10 that had the honour of collecting the holders of the Victoria Cross and flying them to the UK... Now it looks like we have problems even flying our troops out to an operational theatre.

Someone somewhere wants to grow a set and say enough is enough... Give us the tools to do the job, or shut down the operation. Shoe strings tend to break and how long will it be before we hear of a tragic incident involving aircraft that are in dire need of replacement!

Standing by to receive the usual criticism
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 13:19
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I can only speak about this particular PFI from having been in MB at the time. Clever people (like all of us here) in Town and DPA (as was) understood how ruinously expensive PFIs would be, and in particular, FSTA. But it was also clear that the Treasury would not provide up-front funding to finance a new fleet. With TB supported by GB, then GB at the helm, funding would always be an issue, and the clever accounting of PFI takes it 'off balance sheet', a bit like ignoring the APR on your maxed-out credit card. I suspect that if the plethora of PFIs are included,the MOD unfunded liability is probably far in excess of ₤37 Bn as stated.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 16:39
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glojo:-
Someone somewhere wants to grow a set and say enough is enough...
If past precedent is anything to go by, it will take a major defeat and national humiliation before the lunatics currently in charge of the asylum are replaced by those equipped as you so rightly suggest.
The Crimea, the Dardanelles, Norway, Singapore, all pointed to the need for some urgent Musical Chairs and fundamental reforms. God forbid it takes such costs this time round, but the MOD Stables need rather more than a change of straw.
From the point of view of this Forum, though not necessarily of this thread, an urgent prerequisite of such reform is the removal of Airworthiness Provision and Air Accident Investigation from the MOD to a separate and independent MAA and MAAIB (both of the MOD and of each other).
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 17:30
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Tucumseh & Wheurhappy - well said both.

I know that companies suddenly included wildly optimistic overseas projections in bids, which impressed the Treasury and Stars but not anyone sensible.

Spot on tuc. I remember on a certain major aircraft programme the company predicted over 110 overseas sales. On the strength of this a certain programme manager was told to PFI the simulator. He told the Two Star the company were talking "balls", ignored him and delivered on time. If he'd paid the company or the Two Star any heed, the aircraft would have been jockeying for hangar space along side the Chinook Mk3s for years. That was about 16 years ago and overseas sales so far are, let me think...... ZERO.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 17:38
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I think the whole AT mess the RAF has found itself in is largely as a result of being too skewed towards FJ leadership and FJ ops when the game changed rapidly in the 1990's. Then of course the Labour government introducing SDR and completely stamping all over it.

Interesting that we've managed to shag the J fleet 4 times quicker than the K. Hub and spoke is a useful tool if operated efficiently and supported correctly.

DAS does not protect against small arms or unguided munitions.

As for AirTanker...Jobs for the boys perhaps?!



Our people « AirTanker

Air Vice-Marshal (Ret’d) Keith D Filbey CBE FRAeS (Chairman, AirTanker Services Ltd

...On leaving the RAF in 2003, Keith worked briefly for Cobham plc before becoming CEO of AirTanker Services Ltd in 2004...
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 20:04
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With the in service date of the first Voyager still not certain it is worth noting the dates required by the initial PFI proposal back in 2000 ( for around 23 aircraft incidentally). First aircraft 2007 , First 5 aircraft by 2009. Reality looks like being one AT frame and perhaps one AT/AAR frame in 2012 , With fleet completion date not known for the 12 now remaining Airbus 330.300s one wonders just how long the 10’s and Tri motors can have their lives further extended.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 20:28
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El_Presidente, your selective extract failed to include any mention of AVM Filbey's extensive background in the AT/AAR world. Which is hardly very fair of you.

For the record, he is an experienced 4-jet (Victor/Nimrod/V10) / 3-jet (TriStar) pilot who has commanded 216 Sqn, RAF Brize Norton and 2 Gp. I would have thought that the knowledge and experience of such a man on board ATrS should be something to be greatly welcomed rather than sneered at.

Hardly 'jobs for the boys', more like 'boy for the job'!

I feel you owe him an apology.

Arters, how are you these days? A shame you couldn't make Flounder's Final Feast the other week.

At a guess, I'd give the last 6 VC10s (4 x K3, 1 x K4 and 1 x CIK) about another 15 months at the outside. TriShaws perhaps another couple of years at the very most.....
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 20:55
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Like him or loath him, James Blunt has a point. Personally, I find him engaging and at least he's been at the sharp end and has far more knowledge than the vast majority of 'celebrities'.

He doesn't need to go to Afghanistan, but volunteered because I think he feels an affinity with the guys out there - or is that too sentimental?

Having left the AT fleet in 1993, we were told the Tristar was just an interim solution - 19 years later it's still trying to do the job it's too old for and in a climate of cuts upon cuts.

Why knock JB for telling a truth? However unpalatable.

Either HMG need to have policies commensurate with being a fourth rate little country off the NW coast of Europe, or they need to stick most of our struggling GDP into an investment of equipment and people in the Armed Forces.

You all read/listen to the news, what do you think's going to happen?

I was going to say 'I'm sorry if he offends people doing their best' , but I'm not - SOMEBODY needs to. Just putting up and shutting up for generations has led to this situation.
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 22:08
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El_Presidente, your selective extract failed to include any mention of AVM Filbey's extensive background in the AT/AAR world.
No apology needed Beegs - I'm not doubting Filby's experience to spec the requirement, or guide the ship - I'm just distrustful of senior officers who suddenly find themselves in the 'right place at the right time' as a PFI magics along.

Beside, it's only tongue in cheek...

Don't get me started on the scrambled egg brigade who toe the line right up to retirement and then start rattling their sabres at the same politicians from whos hand they were feeding...that's another soap box moment.

On the out of service dates, I think the Tens are due to stop rattling the Mess windows next year.

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Old 9th Mar 2012, 08:05
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Dengue_Dude

the Tristar was just an interim solution - 19 years later it's still trying to do the job
Nothing new there! The Buccaneer was an interim RAF solution between TSR2/F-111 and MRCA and was still doing the job 25 years later when it was self-designating LGBs in Iraq (along side the 'MRCA' which couldn't self-designate at the time!)!

Foldie
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 09:02
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plus his father was a Chief of Staff for the AAC,
... chum of mine caused something of a stir at his daughter's wedding by threatening to produce a photograph (and eventually did) of the bride "naked in a bath with James Blunt".

Didn't mention they were 2 at the time when chum was on Charlie Blount's Sqn in Germany .......
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 09:18
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El_Presidente

DAS may not specifically defend against SAA/SAF, but other defensive measures fitted to trasnport aircraft do...
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 11:58
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Whenurhappy

My point is risk management. Is the risk being managed properly? Hub and spoke is an ideal tool for theatre roulements - however, due to budget constraints, equipment limitations and the long line of 'Yes Minister' senior officers, we're using wide-bodied pax transport ac for a role which should be performed by tac AT.

I'm not even going to go down the route of what if - we have been riding our luck for too long. If we did have the correct fleet for the job, properly supported, we would never contemplate running roulements the way we do currently.

As others have said, for too long we have been paying lip service to equipment and capability deficits. Pressure is not being applied to the government by those we trust to lead our armed forces.
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