Withdrawal of Harrier from Afghanistan will threaten Troops

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Nov 21, 2008.

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  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
  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."

  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.
  5. with current operational usage, when would the harriers run out of hours?
  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
  7. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    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.
  9. Maybe they want to prepare the harriers for the new carriers?!
  10. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks for that
    I hadn't realised that AC 103 was night only
  11. 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.
  12. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    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. 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.
  15. Another question to consider is the very small pool of Harrier pilots... Very small, I believe.