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UK plots fresh Chinook helicopter acquisition

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UK plots fresh Chinook helicopter acquisition

Old 15th Sep 2017, 04:27
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UK plots fresh Chinook helicopter acquisition

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/ar...sition-441025/

  • 11 September, 2017
  • SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com
  • BY: Dominic Perry
  • London
The UK is considering a fresh acquisition of Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to replace the oldest examples in its current inventory.
Rear Adm Jon Pentreath, chief of Joint Helicopter Command, speaking at the Future of Military Rotorcraft conference in London on 11 September, said further "modernisation of the Chinook fleet" is being contemplated.
This, he says, would "converge the requirements with the US Army specification" and address potential obsolescence issues.
Boeing produces both the baseline F-model Chinook, as well as the MH-47G special forces variant, which features a number of upgrades including inflight refuelling capability.


The Royal Air Force's oldest Chinooks have been in service since 1980 and have been progressively upgraded from their original HC1 specification to the latest HC4 and HC6A standards.
However, despite the ongoing modernisation, including the recent addition of Thales cockpits, common to the rest of the RAF's CH-47 fleet, and a digital automatic flight control system, the airframes are approaching the end of their lives.
With the USA signalling that F-model Chinooks will continue operating until 2050 or later, combined with the start of work on the so-called Block II performance upgrade package, London sees an opportunity to further invest in its inventory.
Any UK acquisition would focus on Block II aircraft, which are due to begin delivering to the US Army from 2023, with systems transferred across from the current fleet.


No decision has been taken on whether to retain the present Thales cockpits or move to the US Army-standard flightdeck, with the latter approach potentially offering a cost saving through commonality.
US Block II upgrades encompass both the standard F-model Chinook and the MH-47G. Although Washington has approved multiple overseas sales of the CH-47F, it has yet to conclude an export deal for the G-variant.
FlightGlobal understands that UK personnel have already visited the USA to evaluate the aircraft ahead of any potential acquisition.
Boeing in 2015 delivered the final aircraft to the RAF from a 1 billion ($1.31 billion) order for 14 new-build HC6 Chinooks.
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Old 15th Sep 2017, 08:07
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So ZA718 can finally go to Hendon
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Old 15th Sep 2017, 08:25
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Originally Posted by Davef68 View Post
So ZA718 can finally go to Hendon


Or into storage with their Battle of Britain memorial...
mmitch.
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Old 15th Sep 2017, 09:39
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Isn't ZA718 a prime example of 'Trigger's Broom' considering all the repaired damage and updates she's had since 1982?
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Old 15th Sep 2017, 14:46
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I do recommend an off the shelf buy this time, not a "let's give BaE a bunch of money to rip out perfectly serviceable gear to make things 'better' " approach....


And while 718/Bravo November has undoubtedly has many things replaced over the years, the airframe shell still has much of the provenance.
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Old 15th Sep 2017, 18:16
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Sandie,
I would strongly recommend the RAF do not buy "off the shelf this time", well, at least not yet. Many of the reasons we didn't buy "vanilla F" last time are still valid - these include heavy optimisation to US Army requirements/TTPs/SOPs (quite understandably) which would place some very unwelcome limits on UK capability (just as a few examples, the F had no FLIR, no M134 capability, no means for the rear crew to assist with on-board mission replanning/mission management nor did it have a rotor brake which makes Ship Ops and mountain operations "interesting"). AFAIK the CH-47F Block II configuration has yet to be frozen, and that would be the aircraft we would need to go for to leverage the through-life savings. We don't, therefore, know if the upgrades to the Block II actually assuage the concerns the UK had back in 2010 nor the requirements we have now or anticipate for the mid 2020s. If the Block II either meets, or is adaptable to, UK requirements then by all means let's jump on the programme and exploit those savings. As for -718, she's probably a lot more "original" than many data-plate rebuilt Spitfires......I'm however a little torn as to whether we preserve her as a Mk4/6 or put a Mk2 cockpit back in her....I think all her DFCs were in "steam mode"....
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 01:22
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Seems that the Australian CH-47F have "M134 capability" as delivered:

http://www.dsca.mil/sites/default/files/mas/australia_09-17.pdf

Why would any potential UK ones not have it?
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 07:47
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2805662,
Because back in 2010 for the UK it was not available on the F; we could have fitted them but would have incurred the costs associated with installation and testing, then more funds to note the config change on the DA drawing set. All of which changes the spec, moves the configuration away from "off the shelf" and costs time/money - the argument for US Army F for the UK at the time was speed/cost. By the time you started changing weapon, comms, DAS/ASE etc the time/cost delta to a UK optimised chinook narrowed considerably, especially once all the other supporting "Lines of Development" were considered. As for the Australians, as I hear, the much trumpeted 3x new -47Fs delivered very quickly from the US Army line are causing something of a headache. As they are "off the shelf" and were already largely complete when they switched customer, they don't have a rotor brake which is causing no little angst and cost to retrofit. Lack of rotor brake makes ship ops difficult. Caveat emptor.
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 08:40
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Speech looks like a pre-emptive move to get first place on the next budget share out TBH
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 09:36
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As was the multi-page spread a couple of days ago in the Daily Telegraph about the number of RN ships laid up because they can't cannot man, fuel or equip them with weapons. But then again they were warned that would happen even here over 10 years ago as a result of throwing all their cash and manpower into buying 2 aircraft carriers.

Caveat emptor indeed.....
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 10:27
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A pinch of salt is needed for that Telegraph article:

Someone else has done the numbers on another site.

Type 23s:
13 ships. Of which:
4 active
3 in refit
2 in maintenance
3 in post refit work up
1 laid up

Type 45s
6 ships. Of which:
2 active
1 refit
1 maintenance
2 laid up!

At present, total active surface fleet of 6 ships (out of 19). Another 6 can be bought to ready state quick. We just need more people. Traditionally it was said you need three ships to keep on on station, so 6 deployed out of 19 seems about right.



Caveat: Not sure of source - probably not official. The issues with mid life updates/new systems and ships with TA sonar are a bit more complex that it might appear.

The RN had something like 5000 personnel removed under SDSR 10, with it seems little thought to sensible management and future manning issues. Then before SDSR 15, the RN was expected to get a manpower uplift of something like 1500 - 2000 personel, as did the RAF. Where will the manpower for the new MPA come from?

Sadly, CMD made reference to 'troop numbers' in Parliament which led to him being unduly influenced by various Generals (one of whom seems to have disappeared since the Chilcott enquiry) and Fleet Street types who went to the right schools.

Blaming the RN, or the carriers, for political cowardice does not seem right.
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 12:01
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That is really depressing - we have 2 T45's laid up - probably due to lack of men by the sound of it - hopefully these will be manned in time to act as part of the Carrier Groups but you have to wonder if in fact they'll just use the two on active service......
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 12:39
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I don't see the problem at all.
You spend 6.2 billion on a fleet of noisey AD destroyers and end up with two operational and you spend 6.2 billion on two aircraft carriers with no aircraft.

I can't see what people have to complain about really.

Apologies, left out that "long range" humanitarian relief gig for the flat-tops..
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 13:30
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Originally Posted by Evalu8ter View Post
2805662,
Because back in 2010 for the UK it was not available on the F; we could have fitted them but would have incurred the costs associated with installation and testing, then more funds to note the config change on the DA drawing set. All of which changes the spec, moves the configuration away from "off the shelf" and costs time/money - the argument for US Army F for the UK at the time was speed/cost. By the time you started changing weapon, comms. As for the Australians, as I hear, the much trumpeted 3x new -47Fs delivered very quickly from the US Army line are causing something of a headache. As they are "off the shelf" and were already largely complete when they switched customer, they don't have a rotor brake which is causing no little angst and cost to retrofit. Lack of rotor brake makes ship ops difficult. Caveat emptor.
That DSCA notification is from April 2009, so that predates your "UK 2010" timeframe.

There were two F model buys, for a total of ten aircraft. Off the shelf, and much neater than the European nightmares.
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 13:41
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Why do you persist with the no aircraft line? Surely you are aware of the F-35B?

Noisy AD destroyers - compared to what? They are not ASW frigates. two are currently deployed, and another two returned from long deployments earlier in the year.

Perhaps you think 100% of everything should be deployed 100% of the time?
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 19:45
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I was unaware that the RN had any F-35B aircraft.
I am aware that some have been put on order - possibly awaiting cancellation
Currently, I believe, the RN have no carrier borne fixed wing assets.
So the newly delivered aircraft carrier is no more than a helicopter carrier.
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 20:05
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Well, the UK has 12 so far, all of which could operate from the carriers.

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/12th...ory-takes-air/
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 20:59
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I believe the UK has 12 trial aircraft running trial non-operational software and a limited trials weapons clearance, pending even the start of IOT&E testing in 2018. After the completion of which the UK trials will start then OCU training and, supposedly, the training of the first operational squadron with an IOC date for carrier deployment around 2023?

IIRC an agreement has been made for the USMC to deploy onboard to provide a semblance of competence in procurement and purpose.....
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Old 16th Sep 2017, 21:21
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I believe the UK has 12 trial aircraft running trial non-operational software
If only there was some way you could update software.
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