Withdrawal of Harrier from Afghanistan will threaten Troops

#1
Withdrawal of RAF Harrier jets from Afghanistan 'will threaten' troops

British troops serving in Afghanistan will be put at risk by the withdrawal of RAF Harrier jets, it has been claimed.

By James Kirkup
Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 3:44PM GMT 21 Nov 2008
The Harriers, which provide vital air support to British ground forces fighting the Taliban will be replaced with Tornadoes in April next year.
The Ministry of Defence insists the decision will not change the military capabilities available to Armed Forces in Afghanistan, but some Army commanders are privately concerned the new aircraft will be less useful than those they will replace.
Those fears have been heightened by leaked internal MoD figures showing that Tornadoes regularly fail to take off because of technical problems.
The figures, which were disclosed in Parliament this week, suggest that the Tornado suffers from regular technical failures when operating in hot, dusty conditions like those in Afghanistan.
The MoD figures were passed to Mark Lancaster, a Conservative frontbencher, who said they show the decision to withdraw the Harriers is dangerous and mistaken.
More on the link
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...ts-from-Afghanistan-will-threaten-troops.html
 
#2
I found this piece interesting,

"Vehicles deployed on operations may be exempt from that review, and Mr Lancaster suggested that the RAF was sending the Tornadoes to Afghanistan to ensure they do not face future cuts.

He said: "I am assured that the RAF is concerned that, all of a sudden, the Tornado fleet is beginning to look exposed. It believes that by ensuring that it has a role in Afghanistan, we can give the Tornado fleet and its future a degree of protection."

john
PBI.
 
#3
There is no avoiding the fact that the Harrier Force is tired and requires time to reconstitute and, to an extent, re-learn skills that have been put on ice due to the relentless CAS requirement. Tornado remains a capable platform . It also has a gun; a capability the Harrier lacks (granted, Tornado does not carry rockets, though). As a decision, it is no different from replacing 16 AA and 3 Cdo Bdes with the likes of 52 Inf and 12 Mech. The latter two acquitted themselves admirably despite the so-called 'elite' status of the former two Bdes. The Tornado Force is on an extensive CAS work-up and, it must be remembered, has also acquitted itself well providing CAS and NTISR in Iraq.

Ratty Lancaster also has a bit of an axe to grind with the RAF after his return from his 28-day Muttly tour of Afghanistan was delayed by a couple of hours at Akrotiri. This resulted, if we remember, in his leaked letter expressing how cross he was at getting back a little late.

The whole thing is a bit of a non-story. I have been involved in the CAS/FAC world for quite some time and have full confidence in both the Harrier and Tornado Forces. It wouldn't bother me who turned up to my TIC. Ratty Lancaster should change his pants and get back to the things that he is good at like making fireworks with his dad.
 
#4
Hmmm longer range, bigger payload and two pairs of eyes, whats the problem? Question is why haven't they been deployed earlier.
 
#6
Seems strange that we have a ground attack aircraft that can't deploy Rockets. Surely the current system must be one of the simpler bits of kit to integrate ? Hasn't it been in service for decades ?

Personally I agree with flipflop, there is a far bigger risk ahead that all the Harriers are going to be worn out long before their time. They will be needed I guess as far ahead as 2020-25 to cover the overlap with the F-35 introduction once the carriers are completed. We are hardly short of Tornado's now that the Typhoon is coming into service
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
Didn't the GR3 and GR5 have a rarden cannon?

Would we be better off investing in a couple of AC 130 Spectres?

Genuine question
 
#8
GR3 had a 30mm Aden and I think the GR5 was going to have a 25mm. There were issues of integration and, of course, back then we were never going to operate in an environment that required a gun :roll: . Magic Mushroom will, no doubt, put me right.

AC130 question comes up regularly. Nice as it would be, we are not going to procure it. It is a night-only platform and can only operate in a permissive environment. It is hugely expensive and we cannot afford to operate platforms that have single, niche, capabilities.
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
flipflop said:
AC130 question comes up regularly. Nice as it would be, we are not going to procure it. It is a night-only platform and can only operate in a permissive environment. It is hugely expensive and we cannot afford to operate platforms that have single, niche, capabilities.
Thanks for that
I hadn't realised that AC 103 was night only
 
#11
Recruiting_Office_reject said:
Seems strange that we have a ground attack aircraft that can't deploy Rockets.
The Tornado was originally brought into service as a bomber, primarily to deliver neuclear weapons. It has since been converted for use in most roles, and has a "rocket" capeability.

It flies in Saudi in the IDS and ADV variants, without any great problems, so should be fine in Afganistan.

The only problem I see is that, unlike the Harrier, it needs to operate from an airfield, increaseing TOT time. Does Harrier operate from FOBs in Afganistan ?

Tornado has many bonus points, most mentioned already, two pairs of eyes, bigger payload, great to laserguide a nuke into the Tora Bora !

A Spectre, or half a dozen A10 Warthogs would be a great investment / deployment.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#12
A non-question from a rent-a-quote MP. The Frogs use Mirages, the CLoggies and Belgies use F-16, the Septics use F-15, A-10 and B-1B, so why not Tornado? Cannon are nice, and it's not as if they have to really aim the bombs that much nowadays anyway :)

And nope, the Harriers don't operate from FOBs. In fact, Tornados will probably be able to get from KAF to Helmand faster than Harrier anyway - bonus!
 
#13
Tornados do not currently carry rockets and will not deploy to Afghanistan with that capability.

Whilst an AC130 and some A10s might be nice to have in a perfect world, they would be a spectacularly poor investment. The A10 production line closed years ago and would cost a fortune to reopen. The US don't have spare aircraft for us to buy as the 'Boneyard' is being stripped out of A10s to provide spares for their existing, aging fleet. A10 and AC130 only perform CAS and we cannot afford, however desirable, single or niche capabilities.
 
#14
Thanks for that
I hadn't realised that AC 130 was night only
It's not really, i.e. it can operate during the day, but it's a bloody big target and easy to shoot down. IIRC the Iraqis clobbered one in Gulf War 1 when it stuck around in daylight.
 
#16
I think the question Mr.Lancaster is asking is why is the RAF suddenly keen to put the Tornado out into Afghanistan when it is already shown to have a greater failure rate in the hot, sandy, dusty conditions that the Tornado is going to be flown in. I have to ask myself why now? Why the choice to swap from the Hariers to the Tornados now? Why, if the Tornado is the better aircraft, has it taken so long for the RAF to deploy GR Tornados to Afghanistan? If the GR Tornado has a better range, faster legs, more payload then why hasn't the army demanded that GR Tornado's be deployed to support the Harrier fleet?

Flipflop...check your facts, your Google-Fu was very weak.....http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1532000/Tory-TA-major-says-the-RAF-let-our-troops-down.html

poor, cheap shot....Freddie....
 
#17
CATGI said:
great to laserguide a nuke into the Tora Bora !
Alas no longer from a Tonka :cry: With regard to rockets, it would probably overtake them and end up getting trashed by the shrapnel, hence why they have never been fitted.
 
#18
Too be honest I was surprised the Tornado wasn't already being used in theater... it is a superior weapons platform than the Harrier with greater endurance and weapons load. Oh... and it's also not as vulnerable to MANPADS. Hmm... don't your newly minted Typhoons have ground attack capability as well? Or are they sacred cow's like our USAF F-22s that no one want's to scratch the paint on?
 
#19
Kitmarlowe said:
I think the question Mr.Lancaster is asking is why is the RAF suddenly keen to put the Tornado out into Afghanistan when it is already shown to have a greater failure rate in the hot, sandy, dusty conditions that the Tornado is going to be flown in. I have to ask myself why now? Why the choice to swap from the Hariers to the Tornados now? Why, if the Tornado is the better aircraft, has it taken so long for the RAF to deploy GR Tornados to Afghanistan? If the GR Tornado has a better range, faster legs, more payload then why hasn't the army demanded that GR Tornado's be deployed to support the Harrier fleet?

Flipflop...check your facts, your Google-Fu was very weak.....http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1532000/Tory-TA-major-says-the-RAF-let-our-troops-down.html

poor, cheap shot....Freddie....
Why now? The Harrier was deployed to KAF originally for one reason and one reason only, the airfield was (at that current state) unsuitable for any other aircraft. Now it has been extensively repaired it is fit for others. Harrier was only originally going to stay in service until 2016 with an airframe life extension, that has been pushed out because of time frames surrounding JCA etc and it has been exposed to substantially more flying than was ever invisaged at the earlier estimates, it is a tired aircraft that needs to have every ounce of life squeezed from it. Couple that with the fact that 3 squadrons have been in continuous rotation through theatre since September 2004 and you get an idea how morale is amongst crew and maintainers - they are keen to do their bit and still very capable but a tour every year for 4 years is wearing them down, attrition rates of experienced pilots and SNCO's are very high, in short the Harrier Force is almost at the point of unsustainability.

Tornado may have a greater rate of launch unserviceability but maintenance hours to flying hours ratio is very similar, to mitigate the launch issue all that is needed are more aircraft ie 3 spares per sortie instead of 2, it's an easily managed problem. As for capability differences, well they are different, each has potential advantages and disadvantages, how they are employed in theatre will ultimately judge success.
 
#20
For pretty sensible reasons, Tornado was the CAS aircraft in Iraq, Harrier in Afghanistan. Makes no sense to have mixed fleets in both AO. Logistic and support nightmare methinks. Tornado will do just fine in Afghanistan.

However, the decision to bring the Harrier deployment to a close is rather telling. I fully understand the need for aircrew, groundcrew and airframes to take a break and reconstitute themselves. But the fact that they NEED to do this is VERY telling.

Firstly, it indicates that the Afghanistan deployment is seen primarily as a temporary operational requirement parachuted into a peacetime mindset. The Harriers have to be withdrawn to repair and reinvigorate that peacetime mindset. It is the mindset of the RAF, the MoD and HMG. We are not at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are simply providing resources that are not required for peacetime training, exercises and other less glamourous but necessary peacetime functions.

Secondly, it indicates the lack of depth of our forces. I mean, the UK doesn't have a large enough pool of aircraft and crews to sustain the operation any longer. Says it all really!

And finally, why has the Telegraph got worked up with this now? The announcement was made in mid June by Des Browne.
The Harrier force first deployed to Kandahar airfield in November 2004 and has been operational continuously ever since. That is an impressive record by any standards, but I am mindful of the strain that that extended deployment has put upon the crews, their families and the wider role of Joint Force Harrier. I have therefore decided to withdraw the Harrier force by spring 2009 and to replace it with an equivalent force of Tornado GR4s.
 

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