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RAF transport fleet cuts

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RAF transport fleet cuts

Old 15th Aug 2021, 19:39
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RAF transport fleet cuts

On a very current topic, and relating to events in Kabul, the decision to cut the RAF transport fleet by a third by retiring the Hercules without replacement ought to be reconsidered. Only the RAF can provide Government with a rapid response to crises, and I cannot imagine a crisis that does not require moving people, equipment, and supplies.

There was talk of transport aircraft being diverted from other tasks to fly to Kabul - so it is not like we have a huge excess of them.

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Old 15th Aug 2021, 19:40
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The A400M was bought as a replacement for the Hercules!
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 19:47
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Originally Posted by WE992 View Post
The A400M was bought as a replacement for the Hercules!
True, originally planned to buy 25 A400Ms to replace 50 C-130s. Though able to carry twice the payload over double the range, they cannot be in two places at once. Mass matters.
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 19:59
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The transport fleet cuts reflect the Integrated Review's overdue shift in policy emphasis away from COIN and stabilisation operations. Any fledgling prospect of that policy decision being reversed must surely have been terminated by our efforts in Afghanistan being exposed as entirely futile. It's fortunate that we still have the C130s to help get out of that mess. But the correct response is not to keep the aircraft: it's to avoid getting into such a situation again.
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 20:01
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Not sure I see the logic.

The lease then purchase of the C-17s was very much a consequence of getting involved in Iraq and Afghanistan and a need to move to lots of troops and materiel. The pull from both, and the demise of BAOR and RAFG very much puts the role and size of RAF AT in question. The A-400, Voyager and C-17 fleets seem more than adequate to fulfil the need in numbers - the only remaining question being what, if anything, is needed for SF support.

The debacle currently underway in Kabul is a short term problem and won’t affect long term plans. It’s a matter of how do you put airframes, movers and aircrew in place at short notice. I would imagine a lot of negotiations are ongoing to establish airheads in places such as Kuwait and Qatar to enable quick rotation ferry flights transferring pax to connecting civil airlines.
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 20:07
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
The transport fleet cuts reflect the Integrated Review's overdue shift in policy emphasis away from COIN and stabilisation operations. Any prospect of that policy decision being reversed must surely have been terminated by our efforts in Afghanistan being exposed as entirely futile. It's fortunate that we still have the C130s to help get out of that mess. But the correct response is not to keep the aircraft: it's to avoid getting into such a situation again.
the correct response is to keep them until we have a credible replacement, which currently we do not. Itís oft said but worth repeating: many air forces worldwide are investing in the C130 - including several of those that also have A400. Seems odd to me that we alone are going against the flow. They must all be wrong.
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 20:24
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Originally Posted by Stratnumberone View Post
the correct response is to keep them until we have a credible replacement, which currently we do not. Itís oft said but worth repeating: many air forces worldwide are investing in the C130 - including several of those that also have A400. Seems odd to me that we alone are going against the flow. They must all be wrong.
Do those countries all have a submarine-based nuclear deterrent; a carrier-borne 5th generation combat air wing; a huge and largely maritime AOR over which to deliver NATO maritime patrol and air policing commitments; a distant overseas territory to garrison; a critical national dependence (for energy) on sea lines of communication; political direction to retain (at great expense) domestic aerospace, nuclear and shipbuilding industries; etc etc? Copying the force structure of states with differing strategies, priorities and budgets doesn't seem to me a sound basis for capability planning. Without an idea of what the MOD should give up in return, the idea of keeping the C130s gets filed under 'fantasy fleet'.

Anyway, we are continually exhorted to be 'international by design' in our approach to discretionary overseas operations, so if all our allies are doubling up their tactical transport fleets, what's the problem? Yes, sovereign capacity is needed now in Kabul, but the answer to that going forward is the old "don't fight land wars in Asia".

Last edited by Easy Street; 15th Aug 2021 at 20:43.
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 21:57
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Originally Posted by Stratnumberone View Post
the correct response is to keep them until we have a credible replacement, which currently we do not. Itís oft said but worth repeating: many air forces worldwide are investing in the C130 - including several of those that also have A400. Seems odd to me that we alone are going against the flow. They must all be wrong.
Sadly we are not very good at that. We binned the Harrier, Nimrod and E3!
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 22:36
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Originally Posted by Mil-26Man View Post
True, originally planned to buy 25 A400Ms to replace 50 C-130s. Though able to carry twice the payload over double the range, they cannot be in two places at once. Mass matters.
Nope.

25 C130J planned to repace 60 130-K Yeah that worked well.

We bought A400 as part of being 'Europe; when we were leasing C17. Yeah that worked well.
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Old 15th Aug 2021, 23:18
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I've heard there is a move within the RAF to retain perhaps half the current C-130J fleet. From sources both a Brize and from MADG at Cambridge. Time will tell...

Also apparently some of the stored A400Ms at Brize are in a sorry state.
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 08:52
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"I've heard there is a move within the RAF"

only counts if you hear it from the Treasury - who are no doubt pointing out that with Afghanistan finally gone the UK doesn't need the same sized armed forces as it did 2 years ago......
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 09:30
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Originally Posted by ExAscoteer2 View Post
Nope.

25 C130J planned to repace 60 130-K Yeah that worked well.
.
Were the Js not originally meant as an stop-gap replacement for some of the Hercules fleet until the then EUROFLAG, later A400, came on stream to replace the C-130. That's why they operated alongside the remaining Ks for many years.

But how many A400s are currently operational?
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 15:02
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With a lot of civvie airliners parked up right now, are any of these being considered to help out? I realise they won't go into a combat zone, but positioning them on nearby friendly territory, and running a 'hub and spoke' operation could work? Having said that, how many people in the know foresaw the Afgan situation collapsing so quickly? What a tragic waste of lives and assets for nothing.
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 15:51
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Originally Posted by Davef68 View Post
Were the Js not originally meant as an stop-gap replacement for some of the Hercules fleet until the then EUROFLAG, later A400, came on stream to replace the C-130. That's why they operated alongside the remaining Ks for many years.
One of my Flt Cdrs was behind the original procurement of C-130J. The plan was (initially) to replace 60 odd K's with 30 J's. However we only bought 25 (and failed to buy the tanker capability).

AFAIK the reason the Ks were kept on for so long was because the J's only had a limited RTS for air-drop for quite some time.
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 17:21
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AFAIK the reason the Ks were kept on for so long was because the J's only had a limited RTS for air-drop for quite some time.
My recollection is that the J was procured to replace half the K fleet (the short term fleet as it was known, part-exchanged for Js) and the other half was to be replaced by A400M. It was the delays to the latter that led to the extension in service of the K. Originally C17 was leased for Herrick, once it was bought the A400M was rather surplus to requirements. The decision to get rid of the J (at a time when other nations are buying it to supplement their A400s as it canít really do the Tac AT role properly) is rather foolish. We will be left with the A400M as our smallest transport aircraft, rather like DPD delivering parcels in an HGV rather than a van.
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 17:38
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Ken Scott You recall correctly. The whole Hercules Rolling Replacement (Tranche 1 & Tranche 2), A-400M & C-17A is a saga worthy of a novel.
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 17:39
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The first C-17 was delivered to the RAF in May 2001 so a few months before 9/11.
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 17:40
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Originally Posted by MG View Post
The first C-17 was delivered to the RAF in May 2001 so a few months before 9/11.
As a leased aircraft only, at that stage anyway.
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 18:44
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Originally Posted by Just This Once... View Post
As a leased aircraft only, at that stage anyway.
yep, and only 4 at first, with a very limited usage profile
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Old 16th Aug 2021, 18:51
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The Future Large Aircraft (FLA) was originally supposed to replace all the RAF’s large a/c. That proved unfeasible, so the tanker/transport requirement became Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) and another fight arose between A400M and C130J as the Future Transport Aircraft (FTA). FSTA then became a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project; the preferred platform became the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) rather than the B767 offered by the rival TTSC. Meanwhile, A400M which had been the FLA was given the go-ahead to be the FTA; however, to fill the gap, a Short Term Strategic Airlifter, STSA, was needed and that became a fight between the An124 and the C-17. The RAF decided upon leased C-17s as STSA to fill the gap before FTA became reality; however, the C-17s were then bought and the STSA became another FTA, but not the sole FTA as that is still the A400M. Which, of course had once been FLA and rejected as FSTA. Nevertheless, the Common Standard Aircraft (CSA) A400M does have a requirement to have an AAR role (except for the RAF), but not as a strategic tanker as that is the job of the FSTA, the A330 MRTT – which also has immense AT capability as well as its AAR capability but is seemingly not considered to be a FTA even though it is.... Although there was, of course, the A310 MRTT in service with other countries but not offered by any of the FSTA bidders even though it had been studied under an earlier project by MoD Department of Future Systems (DFS) as it then was when a Multi Role Tanker Transport rather than a Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft was being considered.
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