Half of Britains Afghan and Iraq helicopters unfit for use

#1
Daily Mail

Half of Britain's Afghan and Iraq helicopters unfit for purpose
By ANDY DOLAN - More by this author »

Last updated at 18:05pm on 11th November 2007

Half of the Apache helicopters used to support British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were unfit for purpose last summer, according to the Ministry of Defence's own figures.

A survey of its helicopter fleet also found a third of the Chinook transport aircraft were grounded whilst only around half of the ageing Sea King helicopters and the newer Merlin MK3 support choppers were operational.

The survey, carried out in August, shows the percentage in the 'forward fleet' considered fit for purpose at the time.

It showed that the Gazelle AH1, used for used for battlefield observation and reconnaissance, was the best performing model.

Half of the Apache helicopters used in Iraq and Afghanistan last summer were unfit for purpose, according to the MoD

It found 81 per cent of the Gazelles met the required criteria of being "available, reliable, airworthy and capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date".

The number of available Apaches, which are attack aircraft, has declined from 60 per cent last year, the survey found.

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey - who obtained the figures through a parliamentary question - said:

"They surely call into question the sustainability of our helicopter operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It is particularly disturbing that since last year there has been a general fall in the number of helicopters fit for purpose.

"The pressure on helicopters in Afghanistan is particularly acute. If we are to be there for the long-haul then the Government must get to grips with the overstretch of our armed forces."

Mr Harvey called on ministers to hold an urgent strategic defence review.

Meanwhile A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that all helicopters on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are considered "fit for purpose".

The percentages of helicopters 'not fit for purpose' applied to those in the UK or elsewhere unable to fly for reasons such as undergoing routine maintenance.

He said: "Our operational capability is measured in terms of flying hours not the number of airframes available, and we have sufficient helicopters and helicopter hours to meet essential operational commitments."

No figures for the numbers of helicopters the percentages are based on were available.

Three former defence chiefs warned last week that inadequate defence spending is seriously undermining UK efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lord Guthrie, Lord Craig and Admiral Lord Boyce want the annual defence budget raised from £34 billion to nearly £50 billion.

In a BBC interview yesterday, Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said there were "robust" debates with Government over defence spending.

He acknowledged that overstretch was a problem, but insisted:

"Our equipment in theatre has improved out of all recognition over the last couple of years particularly in terms of force protection, protective patrol vehicles."

In 2002 many Apache helicopters were grounded due to a lack of trained pilots and were only deployed to Iraq years later.

Last year, it was revealed that the RAF was routinely dismantling helicopters to find spare parts to keep others flying, a practice known as "cannibalisation".

The Government revealed that spare parts were so scarce that one aircraft had to be dismantled to replace "a single nut" on another helicopter. Support aircraft including Chinooks, Merlins and Sea Kings were also regularly being dismantled.

Ministers revealed that in 2005, RAF helicopters had to be cannibalised on 1,599 occasions – more than 30 times a week.
 
#3
Skynet said:
Lord Guthrie, Lord Craig and Admiral Lord Boyce want the annual defence budget raised from £34 billion to nearly £50 billion.
An article from the Daily Hate so accuracy or standards are not important. There's no new news here either - and a very good reason why Gazelle is doing so well in the serviceability stakes that the article doesn't quite make clear. :x

I'm still confused as to why the three individuals above (all retd) are quoted - the article doesn't quite make this clear. This isn't ghostwritten by Peter North is it?
 
#5
No expert here, but my view from afar.

Perhaps the Gazelle (when you look at it), is a bit like the landy, rudimentary, easily fixed, and relatively easy to fly (well as easy as an helo can be).

Anyone can be taught to drive a landy (gazelle), but only a select few are capable to drive an F1 car (apache).

I don’t want to take anything away from the bravery of gazelle pilots, but perhaps it just does what it says on the tin, just carries out its job with its known limitations?
 
#8
The russkies had a mahoosive force of Heli's and fixed wing aircraft as well as a ground force dwarfing the present alliance forces.
They lost alot of aircraft both to grail (SA7) and american stinger missiles along with tripple A.
When we went into Kosovo the russkies had so few spare parts all their hind and hips that rushed to Pristina airport were grounded within the month
 
#10
I have been reliably* informed that we (UK PLC) had to use Russian Tupelov Airframes to fly the Scots Guards Armd Inf Coy Gp to Afghanistan. Now thats embarresing (Spell check). :twisted:
 
#11
Britain has been using various ex easty state companys flying Antonovs for a long time now (I first flew in them in 98)
The RAF used some to convey Tornados to the Falklands (more efficient than flying them there)
(bigger aircraft than the hercs, could carry 14 tonnes side by side, no need to lower the superstructure at the rear of veh etc)

All the above were posted about in UK press
 
#12
Oh for fucks sake can someone come up with a new phrase to replace unfit/not fit for purpose please? Its become a standard journo or politico soundbite that's rolled out and used whenever anything goes even vaguely tits up and just become annoying. You could almost say it's not fir for purpose anymore.
 
#14
If half our helicopters don't work that will put them on the same level as adverts.
It's a well known fact that half of all adverts don't work. Trouble is nobody knows which half that is.
Lets hope the comparison between adverts and helicopters doesn't go quite that far. :D
 
#15
Interesting comment from the MoD spokesman about capability being expressed in number of flying hours not the number of available airframes.

I'd be interested to find out how the number of flying hours available is defined.

In my experience of operations, you get told how many helicopter hours are available and then you plan your operations around what is available. Has that changed?
 
#16
It's spin, the one we have are being flogged by the sounds of it. So although we only have a few that work they are doing the work of several.

Of course as they become "knackered up" with reduced service lives Brown will have brand new ones arriving to replace them...NOT!
 
#17
Herrumph said:
Interesting comment from the MoD spokesman about capability being expressed in number of flying hours not the number of available airframes.

I'd be interested to find out how the number of flying hours available is defined.

In my experience of operations, you get told how many helicopter hours are available and then you plan your operations around what is available. Has that changed?
Just beat me to it.

How can capability be defined in flying hours available? This metric simply does not take into account either fleet dispersion, range of the fleet, or concurrency of requirement.

Metrics such as this are used to define MTBF or to calculate the overall cost of sustaining a capability, and not, as a standalone metric, to define the op reqt.

What next - CR/WR availability defined in hours? Yes, Sir, I am making one x CR available for your next op. I estimate the op will endure for 2 hours, the CR can self-sustain for 28 hrs, and on that basis you have a Sqn's worth of capability to use, when you only asked for a Tp. Win-win.
 
#18
Herrumph said:
Interesting comment from the MoD spokesman about capability being expressed in number of flying hours not the number of available airframes.
Which is bollox, either deliberate or unintentional - it doesn't matter.

If one airframe could fly 24 hours/day that wouldn't change the fact that it could only lift one load at a time, ergo you couldn't concentrate forces quickly or support more than one op at any one time.

So, from being a small force with superior mobility as our main asset, we're now a small force with not much greater mobility than Terry?
 
#19
Why is it that MOD continue to put out statements which even the less well informed no longer believe? Better to say nothing than continue down the path of becoming a national standing joke.
 
#20
The UK Apache AH.1s have the Rolls Royce RTM322 engines which are more powerful than the American ones in hot and high conditions.(Afghanistan in the summer).

Any shortfalls in airframe availibility is probably down to spares shortages,which knowing the MoD will be underfunded.The MoD are probably going on peacetime training levels formulated years ago for ordering spares.

The last Apaches only left storage at Shawbury last summer,so airframe availability in theatre should improve.

When the Apache was procured,it was assumed there would be dalays in delivery(there weren't),hence the reason airframes were placed in storage to catch up with aircrew training.

The procurement of the Apache was performed with virtually no cost overruns(note BAe with the Nimrod).

The army could probably do with more than the 67 Apaches purchased.The initial figure being touted was 100,reduced first to 87,then at the point of selection in 1994 to the present 67 by Michael Portillo,then the Secertary of Defence.

The Merlin's cost in 2000 was around 60 million quid a copy.Adjust for inflation.........A good peice of kit,by all accounts,though.
 

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