Afghanistan helicopters delayed by lack of crew and parking

#1
Re: Afghan fighting - the latest reports.
Posted: 2020 26/01/06

From Times Online
August 11, 2009
Afghanistan helicopters delayed by lack of crew and 'parking'

The demand for more support helicopters in Afghanistan cannot be met fully because there are not enough crews to fly them, RAF commanders have acknowledged.

Merlin helicopters, returned from duty in Iraq and currently being modified for Afghanistan at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, will start to be deployed to Helmand province in December, but the commanders said that five trained crews were required for each one to ensure safety.

None of the helicopters are being fitted with extra armour-plating to protect the crews and troop passengers from Taleban groundfire.

However, Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, insisted that the Merlin was the “best protected” helicopter and that it had flown in Iraq successfully while facing the same threats from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Speaking at RAF Benson, he said that the Merlins were capable of carrying out all types of mission in Helmand, including combat.

Group Captain Jonathan Burr, station commander at RAF Benson, where the Merlin crews are training, said that there was no pressure from the pilots for extra armour-plating to be fitted to the helicopters. He pointed out that soldiers flying in the Merlin in Helmand would be wearing body armour and helmets.
More
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6792233.ece
 
#4
Do helicopters have armour. I distinctly remember armoured seats and armoured breastplates for the aircrew - but wrapping the cab in steel - I certainly don't remember anything like that. I wonder how the helicopter copes with all that weight - makes think that it might not be able to do its job, doesn't it.

Perhaps Flash or MM can bring some light into this.
 
#6
Mr_C_Hinecap said:
Whet said:
I wonder how the helicopter copes with all that weight - makes think that it might not be able to do its job, doesn't it.
It doesn't - hence why it isn't being fitted with any :roll:

Tarah!!! Give the man a cigar.

A question each ARRSEr ought to ask himself - why did the Times go on a story which is based on such bollox? It could have been written by Mick Smith
 
#7
Whet said:
Do helicopters have armour. I distinctly remember armoured seats and armoured breastplates for the aircrew - but wrapping the cab in steel - I certainly don't remember anything like that. I wonder how the helicopter copes with all that weight - makes think that it might not be able to do its job, doesn't it.

Perhaps Flash or MM can bring some light into this.
Some do, but i won't say what or where.
 
#8
rockhoppercrab said:
Whet said:
Do helicopters have armour. I distinctly remember armoured seats and armoured breastplates for the aircrew - but wrapping the cab in steel - I certainly don't remember anything like that. I wonder how the helicopter copes with all that weight - makes think that it might not be able to do its job, doesn't it.

Perhaps Flash or MM can bring some light into this.
Some do, but i won't say what or where.
Bollox - I forgot a bit. But you are right, we shouldn't say where. Let's just say that they aren't Hinds.
 
#9
Whet:

Armour is not always of the steel variety.

(Of course, you may not understand what I have just written.)
 
#10
whitecity said:
Whet:

Armour is not always of the steel variety.

(Of course, you may not understand what I have just written.)
I know - hence the bit I forgot about. And it still weighs enough - just look where else it is put.
 
#11
The one thing the RAF is bound to be hopeless at is actually producing bodies to do the one thing they get paid for -flying aircraft.
 
#12
duffdike said:
The one thing the RAF is bound to be hopeless at is actually producing bodies to do the one thing they get paid for -flying aircraft.
Duffdike, a word of advice mate. Stick to what you know about.
 
#13
As someone who is rather close to this situation at the moment I am happy to confirm that this article is complete bolleaux relying on selective quotes and misinformation. Merlin will deploy and it will be as early as possible, possibly to the detriment of men and materiel. Out of interest do any ARRSErs know of another force element (other than SF) recently recovered from TELIC and redeploying by the end of the year?
 
#14
Bat_Crab said:
As someone who is rather close to this situation at the moment I am happy to confirm that this article is complete bolleaux relying on selective quotes and misinformation. Merlin will deploy and it will be as early as possible, possibly to the detriment of men and materiel. Out of interest do any ARRSErs know of another force element (other than SF) recently recovered from TELIC and redeploying by the end of the year?
but the commanders said that five trained crews were required for each one to ensure safety.
How does that work then? Did they need five trained crews in Iraq. If not, why not. If they did, what's happened to them? Do other Nations have the same back up?
 
#15
Lack of Parking.
Oh My Buddha, just when you think you have heard every wimpish excuse for not having a/c in province someone, no doubt looking to their next 'Confidential' thinks up a cracker.
john
 
#16
In this case, I beleive that lack of parking would sum up the lack of hangar space and areas where helos can be left and properly maintained, and not tarmac on the ground. You can land a helo just about anywhere (once), but to maintain it properly and keep it flying, you need access to better facilities.
 
#17
Whet said:
duffdike said:
The one thing the RAF is bound to be hopeless at is actually producing bodies to do the one thing they get paid for -flying aircraft.
Duffdike, a word of advice mate. Stick to what you know about.
I know from personal experience that on more than one occasion the AAC had to pick up from where RAF couldnt manage......so maybe you should stick to what you know.........probably feck all :roll:
 
#18
I stand by to be educated by someone in light blue, but the 5 crews per aircraft seems a bit rich.

Reading the Times comments from the terribly well-educated chap who studied Bader whilst on Staff College, he said this was to maintain 24/7 ops over 40 years (itself a pretty broad assumption). Is he really saying they need 110-ish trained crews?

From info already in public domain (Iain Dale's blog if interested):

"JHC current order of battle states that it has 15 Merlin Mk3 (22 initial purchase) at its disposal for the front line. Assume that a third of the fleet are at various states of, minor, major and primary star (categories of maintenance) so are unavailable for operations. Assume that a third of the fleet are is being used for continuation training, OCU and trials. That leaves roughly 4/5 aircraft that can be deployed.

4 Merlin helicopters are currently deployed to Iraq. Assume that a third of the deployed fleet are grounded due to maintenance etc. Therefore the UK Merlin force in Iraq is roughly 3 helicopters that can be provided by flight operations for duty."

So my manning reading would be: 3 crews per deployed operational helicopter for 24-hour manning and 1 for the one in maint. Maybe allow a relief crew for essential courses, etc. Forget long career courses for the length of deployment. That gives 11 crews per deployment. Do a six-month tour (as, I think, AAC manage) , with two year tour interval and you get a total of 55 crews for 4 deployed helos. I would hope the 5 training/OCU aircraft could 'struggle by' on at worst 1-2 crews per helicopter, giving you at most 10 crews.

I make that 65 crews with quite a bit of spare in the system (ie a spare 44 crews not on ops!). Surely career courses and other tasks could be managed from that?
 
#19
Yes Jim
" In this case, I beleive that lack of parking would sum up the lack of hangar space and areas where helos can be left and properly maintained, and not tarmac on the ground. You can land a helo just about anywhere (once), but to maintain it properly and keep it flying, you need access to better facilities."

I had 20 + years Brit AAC expireance and another 12 years + playing with helis and I know I could do better then these new experts.
john
 
#20
OpSec not withstanding (although have just heard this on BFBS too.....).

The report has even got the numbers of aircraft here incorrect.

The "parking" issue is a problem. However it will be sorted soon with some major reconstruction work going on at the moment.

There just isn't enough spots for the airframes on the flight line. Hangars are also a problem, with cabs being shuffled as and when maint is due.

It's all well and good calling for more helicopters in theatre but we need the infrastructure to support them first, and that is in the process of being sorted, albeit in "chogie" time. Uplifts are happening, but in a reasonable time frame, to allow all logistics to be in place in order to support the uplift. Otherwise all that would happen is transferring assets that can be used in the UK for training, and dumping them in the desert with no space for maint, no crews to man them, no maintainers, no ground support staff and no spares. Effectively rendering that area of the desert into nothing but a storage area.
 

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