The Organic CAS debate

#1
Following on from the Apache and Marines thread, I've decided to spilt the topic, so the debate for and against 'Organic CAS' , whereby a det of 2 LAH's are maintained at Battalion level, and operated in close proximity to engaged troops, can be argued.

The favoured Helicopter for such a role so far, is the McDonnel Douglas Defender 500 as operated by 160th SOAR, and the fabled 'little bird' of BHD fame.More nails then a very nailsy thing.

Though I wonder if there is a case for an inexpensive lightweight utility Heli, still available in large numbers , which can carry a useful warload and still be used for small team insertion or Casevac in a hurry, and be 'organically' operated at Coy level?



The Hughes H-6/MD500 series...
 
#2
4(T) said:
Haven't read all of the previous six pages, but:

200 RM with Apache support are beaten back from a Taliban fixed position. Later the RM carry out their strap-on Apache rescue.

Heroic (my salute as well), but sadly appears to demonstrate the utter inadequacy of UK force levels and equipment stocks. What should this have been? Maybe: a Cdo brigade successfully carries out the assault and then, if necessary, any follow-up landings are performed by - say - Blackhawks/ etc with Apache overwatch.

So, for this task, they were probably short of about 8 Coy groups and a fleet of medium transport helis...

Probably talking out of my Arrse based on limited info, but this seems to be a common theme of ops over the past two or three years....
Your dead right! But, if they can't afford Black Hawks, hpw about these at less than £1 million each?




Mind you… Lt Gen Graeme Lamb doesn’t seem to have a problem getting a ride.

 
#3
I'm sure I recommended that very same Gentleman's conveyance previously Dr. North?

And yes, I think they'd be cheap, available, and can be serviced and turned around at high speed without large investment in support facilities.

The advantage of this Helo as I understand it, is it's very simplicity and ability to deliver a punch far above it's weight.

For swift deployment of Fire Teams, and for then providing CAS on the sort of ops we're talking about, this Helo must be worthy of consideration?

I should think? this Helo could be operated quite easily by Gazz. pilots?

What say the AAC drivers, is it possible?
 
#4



The thing is that the Hughes/MD 500 is the helicopter equivalent of a Land Rover: cheap, cheerful and good at what it does but when you try to use it as a substitute for something else it won't work. WMIK isn't a substitute for something like LAV III and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64 but you can bet it would get deployed as such because it's cheap.

We'd end up with it overspecced, overbudget, late and too heavy to do the intended task.

As shown in the pic it looks good to me though. Used as you probably intend I would have thought it could be useful but I would still see it at Bn level.
 
#5
EX_STAB said:



The thing is that the Hughes/MD 500 is the helicopter equivalent of a Land Rover: cheap, cheerful and good at what it does but when you try to use it as a substitute for something else it won't work. WMIK isn't a substitute for something like LAV III and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64 but you can bet it would get deployed as such because it's cheap.

We'd end up with it overspecced, overbudget, late and too heavy to do the intended task.

As shown in the pic it looks good to me though. Used as you probably intend I would have thought it could be useful but I would still see it at Bn level.

We already have Lynx LBH - I guess this is more about what was immediately available at the time plus the factor that Apache has more armour and fire-power than a Lynx.

I assume that the capability to strap people onto the stub wings was put into rescue downed Apache aircrew - any comments from AAC?
 
#6
and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64
I'm not suggesting it as a substitute for AH64

I'm suggesting it, as an 'organic' CAS asset, tasked at Coy level, that can operate very closely to the FEBA and be turned around quickly. It can also do something AH64 can't, and that's to insert small fire teams very quickly where they're least expected. Something from reports, the Talib's are rather good at. :(

I can see this being used in Fast CAS, Insertion, cut offs,and hot pursuit roles, as well as Casevac.

It's a proven design, small, highly manoueverable, it's armament is nothing terribly exotic or ludicrously expensive, and the there are a lot of airframes about, so the unit cost should be a factor.

The oft-stated case is, we haven't enough Helo's for the task. So lets get more, that deliver *shudder* value for money , as this seems to be the only phrase they understand in the Puzzle Palace.

But as I say , I need the AAC lurkers to opine whether a small fast helo would be of use or not?
 
#7
PartTimePongo said:
and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64
I'm not suggesting it as a substitute for AH64

I'm suggesting it, as an 'organic' CAS asset, tasked at Coy level, that can operate very closely to the FEBA and be turned around quickly. It can also do something AH64 can't, and that's to insert small fire teams very quickly where they're least expected. Something from reports, the Talib's are rather good at. :(

I can see this being used in Fast CAS, Insertion, cut offs,and hot pursuit roles, as well as Casevac.

It's a proven design, small, highly manoueverable, it's armament is nothing terribly exotic or ludicrously expensive, and the there are a lot of airframes about, so the unit cost should be a factor. It's used in NATO , so there are a lot of qualified drivers about too.

The oft-stated case is, we haven't enough Helo's for the task. So lets get more, that deliver *shudder* value for money , as this seems to be the only phrase they understand in the Puzzle Palace.

But as I say , I need the AAC lurkers to opine whether a small fast helo would be of use or not?
PTP,

I'm largely in agreement with you if you re-read what I wrote. My point is that MOD would try to deploy it as a substitute for a WAH64 because it's cheap. (think WMIK instead of a LAVIII type, Scimitar instead of Challenger, FV432 instead of warrior, saxon instead of anything useful etc etc.)
 
#8
Richard_North said:
Your dead right! But, if they can't afford Black Hawks, hpw about these at less than £1 million each?

A million each? You are being a little naive given the history of our dumb as fukc government. A decade later (for all the testing of an already tried and tested platform) and 1.4 billion a pop (erm.. just because thats how it works) and maybe we could get some.
 
#9
Ahhhhhhhh ok, with you now Ex.

I see this as being parked in the same area as the WMIK's, under the direct control of the OC. MoD would see it as being available to chase all over Afghanistan?

I really see this as dedicated Air support , as it's so cheap (relativly) to operate.

Would be nice for the guys to have their WMIK patrols supported by heavily armed eyes-in-the-sky.
 
#10
PartTimePongo said:
Ahhhhhhhh ok, with you now Ex.

I see this as being parked in the same area as the WMIK's, under the direct control of the OC. MoD would see it as being available to chase all over Afghanistan?
Exactly.
 
#11
PartTimePongo said:
and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64
I'm not suggesting it as a substitute for AH64

I'm suggesting it, as an 'organic' CAS asset, tasked at Coy level, that can operate very closely to the FEBA and be turned around quickly. It can also do something AH64 can't, and that's to insert small fire teams very quickly where they're least expected. Something from reports, the Talib's are rather good at. :(

I can see this being used in Fast CAS, Insertion, cut offs,and hot pursuit roles, as well as Casevac.

It's a proven design, small, highly manoueverable, it's armament is nothing terribly exotic or ludicrously expensive, and the there are a lot of airframes about, so the unit cost should be a factor.

The oft-stated case is, we haven't enough Helo's for the task. So lets get more, that deliver *shudder* value for money , as this seems to be the only phrase they understand in the Puzzle Palace.

But as I say , I need the AAC lurkers to opine whether a small fast helo would be of use or not?
I think you are onto something there PTP. The US Military has been using this platform for a bit and i think it might give the UK Armed Forces another tool to bring to bear. It can be used for insertion,CAS, recce,interdiction, extractions and others. BlackHawk Down anybody?
 
#12
EX_STAB said:



The thing is that the Hughes/MD 500 is the helicopter equivalent of a Land Rover: cheap, cheerful and good at what it does but when you try to use it as a substitute for something else it won't work. WMIK isn't a substitute for something like LAV III and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64 but you can bet it would get deployed as such because it's cheap.

We'd end up with it overspecced, overbudget, late and too heavy to do the intended task.

As shown in the pic it looks good to me though. Used as you probably intend I would have thought it could be useful but I would still see it at Bn level.
Only problem is HMG would want a 'European' solution rather than buy a tried , tested & proved in theatre piece of kit
 
#13
Sir_Prancealot said:
EX_STAB said:



The thing is that the Hughes/MD 500 is the helicopter equivalent of a Land Rover: cheap, cheerful and good at what it does but when you try to use it as a substitute for something else it won't work. WMIK isn't a substitute for something like LAV III and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64 but you can bet it would get deployed as such because it's cheap.

We'd end up with it overspecced, overbudget, late and too heavy to do the intended task.

As shown in the pic it looks good to me though. Used as you probably intend I would have thought it could be useful but I would still see it at Bn level.
Only problem is HMG would want a 'European' solution rather than buy a tried , tested & proved in theatre piece of kit
I don't know if Hughes 500 can fly at the high altitude and temperatures of AFG. The European market does have a tried and tested airframe, albeit rather old - this being the Allouette III. I believe the Indian army operates them
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#14
The 500 is a nice machine for obs and recce, as was the Gazelle, but strapping MGs and free-flight rockets doesn't make it into an attack helicopter. Look at what happened to the two Gazelles lost at the start of the landings in the Falklands. Perspex won't stop small-arms.

Allocating assets like helicopters down to Coy level is fraught with C&C difficulties, especially when there are so few assets and such high demand. The bean-counters won't give you more than you can justifiably make use of. You'd be spending an awful lot of flight-time shuttling between users.

From what I can gather the boys on the ground went in with what they had available, and demonstrated commendable flexibilty in how they made use of what they had. I wonder if some staff whizz will write it into SOPs?
 
#15
Sven said:
Sir_Prancealot said:
EX_STAB said:



The thing is that the Hughes/MD 500 is the helicopter equivalent of a Land Rover: cheap, cheerful and good at what it does but when you try to use it as a substitute for something else it won't work. WMIK isn't a substitute for something like LAV III and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64 but you can bet it would get deployed as such because it's cheap.

We'd end up with it overspecced, overbudget, late and too heavy to do the intended task.

As shown in the pic it looks good to me though. Used as you probably intend I would have thought it could be useful but I would still see it at Bn level.
Only problem is HMG would want a 'European' solution rather than buy a tried , tested & proved in theatre piece of kit
I don't know if Hughes 500 can fly at the high altitude and temperatures of AFG. The European market does have a tried and tested airframe, albeit rather old - this being the Allouette III. I believe the Indian army operates them
Allouette is an ancient bit of kit but can fly high. The 500's are a very sporty little number and would cost way less than a million each. Running costs are in the region of 350 per flying hour. Good crash survivability because of the egg shaped fusalage - tends to roll and not break up.

A great idea for cheap and cheerful air support which is why it will never happen.
 
#16
cloudbuster said:
The 500 is a nice machine for obs and recce, as was the Gazelle, but strapping MGs and free-flight rockets doesn't make it into an attack helicopter. Look at what happened to the two Gazelles lost at the start of the landings in the Falklands. Perspex won't stop small-arms.

Allocating assets like helicopters down to Coy level is fraught with C&C difficulties, especially when there are so few assets and such high demand. The bean-counters won't give you more than you can justifiably make use of. You'd be spending an awful lot of flight-time shuttling between users.

From what I can gather the boys on the ground went in with what they had available, and demonstrated commendable flexibilty in how they made use of what they had. I wonder if some staff whizz will write it into SOPs?
Actually, one of the Gazelles was lost to a Puccara, and the armament for the aircraft at that time was an LMG. The Scouts that were sent down there were armed with SS11 anti tank missiles. The Corps did try using snebs that they got from the Frogs but I believe (wouldn't swear on it though) they left them behind as they weren't accurate enough
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#17
Sven, 3CBAS lost two Gazelles just east of Fanning Head to small arms, equipped with SNEB pods, aimed using a stick mounted on the homing aerial bar.

The AAC Gazelle was lost to a missile fired from one of HM ships, (RIP Simon Cockton and others), two Scouts were taken out by Pucara near Port Howard settlement.

All the above from memory, so if I'm out please accept my apologies.
 
#18
Sir_Prancealot said:
EX_STAB said:
The thing is that the Hughes/MD 500 is the helicopter equivalent of a Land Rover: cheap, cheerful and good at what it does but when you try to use it as a substitute for something else it won't work. WMIK isn't a substitute for something like LAV III and MD500 isn't a substitute for a WAH64 but you can bet it would get deployed as such because it's cheap.

We'd end up with it overspecced, overbudget, late and too heavy to do the intended task.

As shown in the pic it looks good to me though. Used as you probably intend I would have thought it could be useful but I would still see it at Bn level.
Only problem is HMG would want a 'European' solution rather than buy a tried , tested & proved in theatre piece of kit
Not a problem... there is always the Eurocopter ... slightly more pricy (about £3 mil)

 
#19
cloudbuster said:
Sven, 3CBAS lost two Gazelles just east of Fanning Head to small arms, equipped with SNEB pods, aimed using a stick mounted on the homing aerial bar.

The AAC Gazelle was lost to a missile fired from one of HM ships, (RIP Simon Cockton and others), two Scouts were taken out by Pucara near Port Howard settlement.

All the above from memory, so if I'm out please accept my apologies.
Didn't know about the booty cabs, and You could be right about the AAC aircraft - I am relying on my sometimes less than satisfactory memory myself.

RIP all a/c
 
#20
Well FWIW I've contacted MD Helicopters, who now appear to be owned by a European? Company.

The actual MD Heli site, has a wealth of info , and the op costs of the MD 500 series are inexpensive at first glance, but Helo. Operators can confirm or deny.

http://www.mdhelicopters.com/products.php?id=MD_500E

There is an uprated donk for hot and high, and it can carry a useful slung load too

Cloudbuster, I take your point about LH and Small Arms of course, but this airframe has been performing in the light attack role successfully for years, and packs a heavy punch for it's size and weight.

Though the C+C issues you highlight (It's bright and shiny I want one too) may be a problem if enough airframes are not resourced,

I envisage these assets being available at Coy level and up, at 2 per Coy (I'd like a pony too) , and treated no differently than an airborne WMIK if you will...
 

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