Transfer WAH-64D to the RAF...

"AH is too complicated for the AAC and AH airframes are too valuable to be deployed beyond the FLOT except against HVT.

All AH should therefore be transferred to the RAF forthwith, where they can be deployed alongside other UK CAS assets and launched on operational sorties that are properly integrated into the CAOC ATO."


Help, we've got no realistic role left and are going to get it in the neck come the next round of defence cuts - quick, we need more aircraft to justify our massive budget and overstaffed headquarters.
FrogPrince said:
"AH is too complicated for the AAC and AH airframes are too valuable to be deployed beyond the FLOT except against HVT.

All AH should therefore be transferred to the RAF forthwith, where they can be deployed alongside other UK CAS assets and launched on operational sorties that are properly integrated into the CAOC ATO."

we have CAS ?
Talking of over blown and useless, bet you're glad Typhoon will save the bluejobs.
Giving the Apache AH1 (no longer WAH 64 unless it is a WHL company aircraft) to the RAF would be consummate in giving "gagging for it" Jordan to the Pope for gratification! They wouldnt have scoobie how to fly it, employ it or fight it. The latter being the key.

Pilotage - SH over burdened. Chances of releasing Chinny / Merlin clods to convert - about as remote as Labour increasing defenec spending! Clutch of soon to be jobless Puma blokes, burnt out, phased and hardly likely to re-tread onto an AH. The £££ training bill for taking redundant Jaguar and GR4/F3 pilots and turning them into rotary pilots would give Gordon Brown coronary palpatations. Biggest task would be to get said pilots to think Combined Arms and Land Warfare in order to think ATTACK aviation as opposed to hash and trash / hump and dump air.

Suggest the question should rather be:

All SH assets be given to the Army, where they can fully integrated with AH. Then get Aviation out of 16 Never Air Assaulted Anything Bde and create a Helicopter Force that can organically support a spectrum of formations - Armd, Light and Mech. Remeber that there will be more AH than Strike will have CAS aircraft - so any CAS should be integrated with AH in contrast with the suggestion. Indeed, AH and BRH / RUH will more effective cueing and co-ord with Joint and Deep fires than CAS! 8)
As a proud Crab, AH is with the correct service in my opinion.

There are some who argue that the Apache is too complex for the AAC but from the little I understand of the aircraft, it is designed to be supported in the field. Moreover, I understand that your technicians recieve considerably more trg prior to a posting to an AH sqn. Therefore, as long as sufficient spares and black boxes are purchased, I don't think that the AAC/REME will have any problem operating and maintaining it in the field. At the end of the day however, if a Spam pfc from the deep South can maintain it, the British Army should have no snags.

However, I do have deep misgivings over the mindset change that AH must bring in the Army as a whole and - to a lesser extent - in the AAC itself towards Aviation. It concerns me that it will be a good 5-10 years before the wider Army realises the true potential of AH and has it fully integrated in Joint (as opposed to just Land) ops and doctrine. From my experience of working with the Army and a quick glance in your Electronic Battlebook suggests that Land's perspective of Aviation is extremely stovepiped and outdated. The very fact that Land delineate between Aviation and Air is to my mind outdated as each service struggles with fewer and fewer assets and move towards increasing jointery. Given that the Army elected for a small number of Longbow equipped platforms rather than a larger number of radar/non-radar AH-64s or indeed AH-1Ws (and I'm not suggesting which is correct), it is immediately a scarce and high value asset. Consequently, I certainly don't think that AH will be able to be held onto at BG/Div level as is often the case now with Aviation assets.

Additionally, I would also suggest that the Apache will require a switch to a more (dare I say it) professional approach to flying in the AAC. Now before you Army types all spit burgandy over my white socks, I'm not for one moment suggesting that you're unprofessional. However, whenever I work with you guys, it strikes me that there are some excellent SNCO pilots, and almost all your pilots are excellent 'stick and rudder' (okay...cyclic, tail rotor and collective!) guys. However, your commissioned sqn leadership often seem to be tactically unversed in many key areas of ops. This seems to be because they have to stay on the Army career conveyer belt to the detriment of their own and your Corps' operational efficiency. As examples, I have recently encountered an AAC sqn cdr who had never worked with an AWACS (nor saw any real reason why he should), and a newly qualified AC who didn't know how his EW system worked.

Likewise, the inevitable connection that is maintained between soldiers in the field by having soldiers flying Army helicopters is one of the many strengths of Army Aviation. However, a chat to some of the initial AH guys suggests to me that there needs to be more emphasis placed on flying at the expense of traditional Army activities. AH is far more complex than previous Land helos and will require considerably more effort in maintaining skills in all of its systems and roles. When aircrew have been up night flying until 0200 in a complex Joint air exercise, is it wise to insist on a sqn run at 0800 the next morning? Clearly such activities need to be maintained. However, I suggest that maybe the balance of some of your current practices need to be changed in a subtle manner.

And for crying out loud lets improve Joint understanding as far as Land (and Aviation) goes! AH has already made some good progress with the RN SKASaC and this combination has superb potential for the future. Similarly, it's pleasing to see AH crews being far more enthusiastic in working with Air Component assets such as AWACS. But that approach needs to be massively expanded.

I can guarantee Igla that there will be very few redundant RAF fast jet aircrew given the shortages in aircrew and experience endemic on our sqns right now. However, whilst he is right to raise the trg and cost burden, why not consider RAF/RN CAS/Predator exchanges with AH pilots? I know many rotary pilots (and indeed navigators) who have succesfully crossed over to FJ flying in a relatively short space of time. Indeed, such personnel are often lower trg risks than direct entrants; and wouldn't it be great to see an AAC Staff Sgt flying an RAF or RN Harrier?! Likewise, instead of sending one of your E-3 pilots (apologies if I'm not using the correct grade terminology) back to dig trenches in the field, what about placing a small percentage as mission crew on AWACS or ASTOR? Only in this way will Land, Air and Maritime learn from each other and work better in a Joint environment.

I will now walk rapidly sideways out of the firing line...

UAVs are another area where the Army needs to raise its game in terms of integrating into the wider aviation community. I listened once to OC 32 Regt complain during a demo of some system - it was in cloud and icing up - he couldn't understand why it couldn't see the target. That sort of ignorance will leave Watchkeeper grounded as no-one else will be prepared to share the sky with operators equally clueless.

AH and Watchkeeper need to be driven by the Army - but the Army must recognise that it's a complex old world out there and we need to get on with and talk to other services. Mind you, other cap-badges would be a start half the time.
I remember one of the Director Aviation's Staff officers (Gen W late RE), telling me in early 80s that it had been seriously suggested that all the Support Helis, Wessex and Puma where to be transfered to AAC.
The RAF where going along with idea, for well over 80% of their operational flying was for the Army.
The RAF planned to use the money saved to buy a sqd or so of real aircraft.
The Deal was all but done when the excheque, pointed out that the money allowed for Support Helis would go to Army and no extra money for RAF.
polko said:
Reference UAVs (One_of_the_strange), wondering what the current army/UAV situation is at the moment? Any in the pipeline?
Phoenix is currently in service. Frankly it's awful and is only effective thanks to operator skill and hard work. However the gunners then spoil the effect by refusing to talk to anyone else or acknowledge that any other service or cap badge might be able to help them. There are some vicious rumours about kit recognition and not bothering to use outside int on Telic but they're probably not suitable for this forum.

Watchkeeper is on the horizon as a replacement but details are sketchy. If Janes are correct then the contractor has been chosen (Thales) but a final contract detailing exactly how many, what type and when is still being agreed. The trade press seems to be reporting a slowdown and reduction in the original scope as money gets tighter.

What is certain is that the introduction of the types proposed will require a complete change in mindset from Phoenix. That was low, slow and had a parachute. It could be operated inside ranges without the need for interaction with the outside world. Watchkeeper will fly faster, higher and from runways. Whoever flies it will have to understand and talk to all other air users. The worry is that the gunners will try and stick to the current closed shop to the detriment of all concerned.

What I'd like to see is UAVs driven by a purple unit. But in these days of cuts and amalgamations everyone would rather die in a ditch than accept a reduction in their manning levels - regardless of the effect on operational capability.

Certain elements in the int world have been looking at other people's UAV imagery for a long time now. Of course their involvement with Watchkeeper is non-existent. But that reflects the general lack of interest from my glorious corps in such matters.

Of course I might be a bit biased.
Was wondering whether there is any talk of recce UAVs under int control, or even UCAVs under RAF or AAC in the pipeline. I know the research field is very active (at DSTL and QinetiQ and the like) but no idea whether anything is looking like reaching the end of the pipeline in the forseeable future?
Muttley, this is actually the sort of reasoned argument with examples I was hoping for. Much better than just 'I hate crabs!'. That thread kept me amused all Friday afternoon!!

The 'silo' attitude from the Royal Regiment re Watchkeeper is just human nature. I make my 'Monday-Friday' living in project management and have spent the past few years on big Civil Service change programmes. Most of my time is spent just getting A. to talk to B. and realise that both their workstreams affect C. It pays the bills... :wink:

Re the UCAV's, am I right to think that in order for a Brit to fly USAF/OGA Predators you have to be a. RAF and b. a 'fast jet' pilot Johnny? Now Predator seems not too dissimilar in performance to the PA-28 Piper Archer I fly at weekends, (bar the LGM's) so surely this is a waste of an expensively trained FJ pilot? Watchkeeper and Predator are both mainly pre-programmed assets, so neither need a pilot who is trained to bounce a Tornado GR.4 around in the weeds, surely ?
Last month I had the privelidge to have lunch with "Elliot 18" who, on his second tour as a USAF FJ pilot, was sent to be PFAC flying a Bird Dog up on the Laos Cambodian border.

In those days USAF believed you had to be a FJ pilot to fly an AOP, bit of synergy with the RAF Predator Pilot view there.

" Elliot"explained that flying over Arizona at 450kts on a 1501 JOG equivalent, talking to other jets, was not in the same universe as flying at 80kts over the "Ulu" trying to talk to, and get a visual fix on an "A" Team somewhere below him. < In Arizona the indians did not shoot back either.>

If you are looking to shoot up 10 or 15 tanks in the middle of nowhere, then the FJ boys might just achieve economy of scale. However, I sense that we might now be looking for aircrew who, in the hover at 7 km and 5,000 feet, can fix on one car in a line of 300, in the morning rush hour. Then having distinguished correctly between an Toyota and Isuzu twin-cab, engaged the target, with no collateral damage.

We seem to have agreed that only one service had the pilots capable of achieving this. The question is can the largest (per-capita) arms directorate in the world, summon up the intellectual rigour to define this new minimalist school of the "Art of War", on paper?

If not, then will the Royal Regiment be stepping up to the line??
Predator and Watchkeeper type UAVs use at least 2 crew. One is the "pilot", often referred to as the UAV controller, the other drives the sensors. There can be a third mission commander present who acts as the go-between for the crew and the tasking agency.

The UAV controller obviously doesn't need the stick and rudder skills of a fast jet jockey, neither does (s)he need decompression training etc. However, they do very definitely need a through understanding of aviation comms, weather, law, operations, capabilities and limitations of themselves and other assets, how modern air ops work and where they fit etc. Without this body of specialist knowledge they will not be allowed to share the sky with other users. The fact that the kit is easy to programme is irrelevant - the UAV controller is pilot-in-command with all the legal baggage that a fixed wing pilot has.

From a UK perspective that's never been a problem for Phoenix, as it flies so low and slow, launches from a catapult and recovers by parachute. Watchkeeper cannot be operated in the same way.

The US started out mandating pilots for their kit as that's an obvious place to start.

The UK has seen UAV ops of similar vehicles conducted very successfully by non-pilot aircrew from Nimrod and Sentry backgrounds. When paired with sensor operators with an Army background it all worked very well. Hence my desire for a purple solution and not the gunners trying to do stuff they know nothing about.
I think the whole point of UAVs, and indeed the way the technoloy is going is to ever more autonomy, taking the hard stuff away from a 'pilot' or ground based equialent controller. Qinetiq recon ( the new systems will be so easy to use no great skill or training will be required. This is the same for UCAVs of the future, being pretty much robots with limited AI relying on a human only for tactical and moral (legal baggage) decision making (the weapon recognition stuff will never work). Is there any talk of teaming UCAVs with AH? I know the yanks are pouring money into the idea but ours might be a bit too new for that sort of shenanigans. Agree with you in principle o_O_t_s in that everyone needs the capabilities, however the army really require entirely different platforms from the others, to carry out different roles.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that ease of use negates the need to know what you're doing. Newer systems will indeed require less effort and training to fly - however, the requirements to know what you're doing, where you should be doing it and so on will not reduce.

To use an analogy, it is undoubtedly easier to operate a CR2 than say a Sherman. However, there is no reduction whatsoever in the requirement for the crew to know how to fight the tank as opposed to drive from A to B or perform individual tasks in isolation.

UAV controllers will be legally responsible for flying the things in exactly the same way as their colleagues who sit in them. That, in and of itself, is a fairly large burden. Add to that the need to interoperate with other air users (or they won't let you play) and do a job and you can't escape the need for a comprehensive training programme.

Now there will always be a niche for the small manpack UAV that can be operated by one man - but even here you need some way to deconflict with low level traffic. I think the US have had one mid-air already, fortunately without too much drama.

Autonomy is the subject of an awful lot of work because it is still so far off. No-one in their right mind will let some robot controlled UAV share airspace with anything else for a long long time. Fine if you're punting off a cruise missile on day 1 as you can deconflict. Not fine if you want to put a UAV in to work your MSR and nail any insurgents you see digging holes in the road.

As to the platforms, I'm not so sure. Looking at what the Army needs from UAVs I don't see any way past having someone to make sure it doesn't bump into things and someone to fixate on the soda straw imagery and work out what's going on. The Israelis have more UAV experience than anyone else, they use them daily in intimate support of their Army and would laugh themselves stupid if you suggested replacing the people with machines. All the UAV work done in the Balkans for instance in support of NATO used similar types of UAV.
US are working on concepts as advanced as 'swarms' of UAVs using data-linked position info, plus input from AWACS-type to deconflict. Granted this could only ever be applicable if all aircraft about had the system and it's miles off at the moment. Fair point about the need to know what you're doing to use the system, but I don't think that necessarily means someone as highly trained as a pilot - the UAV will be doing the flight mechanics after all.
Again, fair point about UCAVs and an MSR etc but that's a different type of UCAV in a different role, and I agree that would require a 'pilot' in the more traditional sense.
In terms of roles there's the independent strike such as watching an MSR or general AHVMT, deep recce (Global Hawk style), intel work such as done over the Balkans and further on, teaming with AH and strike aircraft etc. The operations carried out by UAVs so far have mainly been dictated by what they're currently capable of rather than the jobs we would like them to do in the future.
well, anyone that knows me... i always said that we would be RAF in 5 years..... dont ask when i said that tho...........
(it was 6 years ago)

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