Cuts to transport aircraft numbers - time to rethink?

Yokel

LE
UK Defence Journal - UK should ‘reconsider’ plans to scrap C-130

Andy Netherwood, a former C-130 and C-17 aircraft commander, has urged the Ministry of Defence to reconsider the early retirement of the C-130J Hercules fleet.

In written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Defence Committee here, that air mobility is a vital component of both hard and soft power and is essential to realise the ‘Global Britain’ ambition set out by the Integrated Review.

“It is required to support, sustain and recover the ‘persistently engaged force’ envisaged by the Review and this applies to every aspect of it. For example, even the HMS Queen Elizabeth-led Carrier Strike Group required multiple air mobility missions to support CSG21, and the enhanced forward presence in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would not be possible without sufficient air mobility to sustain it.

It is needed to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation operations, as we saw during Op PITTING and is the means by which the UK can support allies and influence the course of conflicts without direct military intervention, as we saw with the movement of equipment and supplies for Ukraine. It also contributes to UK soft power by allowing humanitarian supplies to be moved quickly anywhere in the world to support disaster relief. Finally, it is an essential pillar of national resilience as we saw during the covid pandemic when air mobility aircraft were used to transport vaccines, patients and essential personnel. In short, air mobility is woven through every thread of the Integrated Review.”

“The C-130J is the backbone of the AMF. It entered service in 1999, just two years before the C-17 and is a capable tactical airlifter in use with, and still being acquired by, many air forces around the world. It is not a ‘legacy platform’ by any reasonable definition. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review retained 14 C-130J from the original fleet and funded a £110M centre wing box replacement programme to extend their life to at least 2035. Shortly after this work was completed the Defence Command Paper announced that the aircraft would be retired early, leaving service by 2023.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
UK Defence Journal - UK should ‘reconsider’ plans to scrap C-130

Andy Netherwood, a former C-130 and C-17 aircraft commander, has urged the Ministry of Defence to reconsider the early retirement of the C-130J Hercules fleet.

In written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Defence Committee here, that air mobility is a vital component of both hard and soft power and is essential to realise the ‘Global Britain’ ambition set out by the Integrated Review.

“It is required to support, sustain and recover the ‘persistently engaged force’ envisaged by the Review and this applies to every aspect of it. For example, even the HMS Queen Elizabeth-led Carrier Strike Group required multiple air mobility missions to support CSG21, and the enhanced forward presence in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would not be possible without sufficient air mobility to sustain it.

It is needed to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation operations, as we saw during Op PITTING and is the means by which the UK can support allies and influence the course of conflicts without direct military intervention, as we saw with the movement of equipment and supplies for Ukraine. It also contributes to UK soft power by allowing humanitarian supplies to be moved quickly anywhere in the world to support disaster relief. Finally, it is an essential pillar of national resilience as we saw during the covid pandemic when air mobility aircraft were used to transport vaccines, patients and essential personnel. In short, air mobility is woven through every thread of the Integrated Review.”

“The C-130J is the backbone of the AMF. It entered service in 1999, just two years before the C-17 and is a capable tactical airlifter in use with, and still being acquired by, many air forces around the world. It is not a ‘legacy platform’ by any reasonable definition. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review retained 14 C-130J from the original fleet and funded a £110M centre wing box replacement programme to extend their life to at least 2035. Shortly after this work was completed the Defence Command Paper announced that the aircraft would be retired early, leaving service by 2023.
All done because of money, not because of a lack of need. The French and Germans have stood up a combined squadron of C-130s.

MC-130 was being mooted a couple of years ago. That would be useful.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
All done because of money, not because of a lack of need. The French and Germans have stood up a combined squadron of C-130s.

MC-130 was being mooted a couple of years ago. That would be useful.
So what air capability will you axe to extend the life of the smallest transport aircraft in the AMF?
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Don't be asking questions.

I only made the point - which is fair - that it's money-driven.
:wink:

Of course it’s money driven - isn’t everything?

I expect the Ukes are wishing they’d spent more on defence, but ce’st la vie I’m afraid. Vlad is wishing he’d spent more too!
 
So what air capability will you axe to extend the life of the smallest transport aircraft in the AMF?

At some point somebody has to realise that defence needs to slice up a bigger pie... Given the gazillions being flung around like a lunatics shit at the moment as hard to say it can't be found...
 
Something to consider is the current tiers of payloads available with Chinook / Herk / Atlas / Voyager / Globemaster:

12 - 20 - 37 - 60 - 70 tonnes

However Chinook is very very short-ranged with anything near max payload, so the Herk would often need to be 'abused' to transport loads well under its capacity, which in turn means it isn't being used efficiently. The second-hand 146s slotted in there but were hampered by lack of cargo handling.

Is there an opportunity for something to handle that gap at a lower cost than the Herk? Much like the Andover used to do. CN295 pooled with the Irish Air Corps perhaps? Such a type would also be more suited to SF missions than the Atlas.
 
Something to consider is the current tiers of payloads available with Chinook / Herk / Atlas / Voyager / Globemaster:

12 - 20 - 37 - 60 - 70 tonnes

However Chinook is very very short-ranged with anything near max payload, so the Herk would often need to be 'abused' to transport loads well under its capacity, which in turn means it isn't being used efficiently. The second-hand 146s slotted in there but were hampered by lack of cargo handling.

Is there an opportunity for something to handle that gap at a lower cost than the Herk? Much like the Andover used to do. CN295 pooled with the Irish Air Corps perhaps? Such a type would also be more suited to SF missions than the Atlas.

It's not all about weight. Size, and shape has also got a lot to do with it. Generally an aircraft is out of space before it's out of payload.
Factor in distance to be travelled, as well as MHE required and you're beginning to get there.
The 146 was well employed within its capabilities, but it's often simpler to send an available truck rather than wait for a van. ( Being very simplistic )

Of course retaining/replacing the C130 would add to the mix, but that, also adds another fleet to be paid for, maintained and crewed.

I really hope the Atlas does come up to speed. A Hercules shaped 'capability gap' is something we really can't afford.
 

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