Monday, June 6, 2011

What are the practical considerations of the V-22 Osprey for Australian service?

(Gates on his final tour steps off an Osprey-DOD photo)

Certainly Defence has enough large-dollar, high-risk procurement decisions on the plate but I am curious about the following; the Osprey.

What are it's good points / bad points for Australian service? I am a critic of the program, however I can see its uses. Would this be a useful aircraft for operations in the Pacific Rim?

It has range, VTOL, air-to-air refueling ability and some speed. Could the Army better perform certain missions with the support of this aircraft?

H/T-War News Updates (photo)


Anonymous said...

There was some considerable interest within Air Lift Group for the V-22 some years back, but at A$100m+ a pop plus $??? in support costs, it's a very expensive proposition.

Cheesed said...

We can not even field enough CH47Ds

Josef said...

Well with a RAN Amphib or two on the way plus the Caribou being retired plus good attack helicopters on the RAAF roster, sounds like a good investment to buy now that the development co$ts were paid by my fellow Americans & I. Really good idea to buy 1 squadron w/ option for one more instead of silly King Airs. You get more transport that can do naval ops + handle tight landing strips.

RS said...

The Caribou should never had been retired.
There was no real reason, except that the RAAF wants shiny and new.

Ely said...

It is probably not yet practicable to determine how well the system is actually doing whatever it does so as to reliably answer your question. See But then again check Avweek article (including the comments)Google "GAO V-22 Report Misses The Mark Jun 29, 2009" Predictably Boeing reckons it is the safest in terms of class A mishaps and cheapest to operate per seat mile than anything else. No surprises there. Course it is. Course it is- but doing what?
Practical consideration for now in my book is to wait and see how it fits in the USMC's ORBAT including ILS implications.

Bonza said...

All I have to opine about this one has been already stated by others.

When we can get enugh CH-47F Chinooks to the all the jobs we need them to do I suppose we could look at something like this and not one minute before.

We are down to 5 operational Chooks with that crash last week. Simpy nt good enough and I can't see how a purchase like this can be justified when decent numbers of Chinooks aren't apparently justfiable?

Bonza said...

RS, the airframes and engines being stuffed is usually a good enough reason to retire a capability isn't it?

RS said...

The engines were, however replaceable with an off the shelf PT6 conversion, and the airframes were not.
In addition the CDF told porkies regarding the "fact" that asbestos was found in the aircraft. Not true.

Anonymous said...

Amazing regading Chinooks that the brilliant planners ahve never heard of the word ATTRITION

Ely said...

It is fair to note that contextual considerations in response to your question are that our embarked rotary including amphibious helicopter (and ship) capabilities appear to be at their lowest level for perhaps two decades- I presume MV 22 would be considered for this sort of environment. And also, DMO/ADF appear unable to effectively manage helicopter procurement projects-in terms of providing the required capability with sufficient numbers of effective platforms. All this with NFH coming down the pipe.(that is the way to bet because it is the higher risk option).
I believe MV 22 could certainly provide us useful capability. But the procurement and effective fielding of the system are probably well beyond us. This seems to be an oft proven limitation we need to acknowledge. And we really do need to field some more basic capabilities, some of which have already been paid for-as you suggest.

Bonza said...


Great. We get a bit more life out of an aircraft that we can't use where there is any sort of threat whatsoever, which requires a completely unique training scheme because of the ancient avionics in it and which even if such upgrades were applied can carry absolutely bugger all, in terms of airlift capacity.

Wouldn't it be better to spend the money on an aircraft with greater airlift capacity, greater range, almost the same cruise speed, rate of climb and altitude capability and yet is actually survivable in a modern battlespace and also offers even greater the ultimate in STOL performance?

ie: the Chinook?

Bushranger 71 said...

If one accepts the obvious regional need for light-weight air deployable forces, then a conspicuous capability gap is declining longish range/endurance fixed wing; specifically C-130 which goes places the C-17 cannot.

Australia has run down the C-130 fleet by absurdly not progressively refurbishing and optimising aircraft (and helo) assets. We have been cannibalising the C-130H, thus shrinking that resource. 6 of our former C-130E (now refurbished) were only recently introduced into service by the Pakistani Air Force.

Since technical deskilling of the military and reliance on outsourcing for maintenance, there is now quite limited availability of expensive air assets compared with the Vietnam War and following era. The true picture of aircraft availability for Army Aviation and the Fleet Air Arm is now quite alarming. The V-22 Osprey would in my view just compound a situation that will already be worsened by foolish acquisiton of Tiger and MRH90.

I do agree with Bonza though, that 12 Chinooks are necessary to make that type a viable component, for intra-theatre requirements.

Anonymous said...


Atticus said...

better than ever before.

Bushranger 71 said...

Re my last bit agreeing with Bonza that the Chinook fleet should be made viable; but operating costs for Chinook versus Caribou have not been compared. Just think about how operating costs for the ADF are soaring with the intended introduction of all of this higher technology gear, much of it pretty unsuited to the performance of basic battlefield support roles.

I do not agree with the 'survivability in a modern battlefield' notion that is peddled by the Australian DoD. Majority of aircraft in operational service are progressively enhanced by fitment of an array of new type certified systems as technology advances; be that datalink, defensive suites or whatever. The so-called modern battlefied in Afghanistan has varied little from the Vietnam War scenario and survivability is more about how operations are adapted according to the threat than anything else.

Kiowa, UH-1Y Super Huey, Blackhawk and Chinook versions are all operating successfully in Afghanistan and they are from the same era as the Caribou. Had the 'Bou been progressively optimised, we need not have wasted that platform, as we have also done for the Iroquois and intend to do with Blackhawk and Seahawk. All 25 of the UH-1H being shed could have been upgraded to Huey II for about the overall cost of just one Tiger or MRH90 and H2 beat the pants off anything else for essential hot and high performance for operations in our rugged regional archipelago environment.

Simply; just gross incompetence by those involved in defence capabilities planning, be they military or whoever.

RS said...

Bushranger I could not agree more.
We already own 14 Caribou, and the solution is off the shelf.
Modern avionics the last time I looked are readily available.

There is no replacement for the Caribou except another. If Bonza does not understand the unique capabilities of the Caribou, that does say something.
In addition, the economics of operation the different machines is marked. Running a Chinook costs a bomb.
Anyway 5, 7, or 12 do not replace the lost capability.
What does a new Chinook cost, $80 million?
Rebuilding the Caribou, not more than a few million each. The airframe has many thousands of hours left, and in any case it is only tin bashing. The machine is easily maintained, no exotics. The local Holden dealer could help.

I addition look at what the Americans are using in Afghanistan , civilian C212 and the recent purchase of brand new PZL M28 amongst others.
Once again the RAAF has retired a capability with no replacement. Those King Airs could be seen working hard transporting supplies into difficult airstrips and paddocks during the recent floods in QLD.
Wonder if they removed the carpet and cloth seats?

ELP said...

I have no doubt that the C-27 would be useful but it is not a direct replacement for the Bou when you compare weight limits on some fields. I would be interested to see the comparison of rated pilots in both types look at obstacle clearance and field limits vs. the two types. And then again there is that cost issue. Defence is famous for throwing away useful capability just because some in leadership positions are too lazy to do what is right.

Anonymous said...

Another point here Eric is, no matter waht aircraft you aspire to, is the total incompetence by Defence/DMO of closing down a capablity with none ordered to replace it.
How many years has this requirement been in place, must be more than a decade. AIR?0000.

Bonza said...


I understand the Bou pretty well I think. As I recall, if you loaded it up to it's max, it had bugger all range. You had to hop from place to place, hoping the Army has secure refuelling positions for you along the way to get any great distance in a "warzone" otherwise the mission couldn't even be considered.

You may think it's an okay idea to fly along in an extremely slow non-maneuverable aircraft, that has no defensive systems or ballistic protection, one that you can hear from miles away at the height this aircraft HAD to fly, but I don't.

Despite the myth of the aircraft it DID need a decent runway to land the thing. Yes, it can stop amazingly short when empty but when loaded up it needed a decent runway. The price for this limited capability was that it did not offer a decent cruise speed, altitude capability, load capability, any real survivability and so on.

The Chinook, OTOH requires no runway just a sufficiently large, clear space. It can carry a much better load than the Bou, goes further on internal fuel at almost the same speed and altitude. Again, it too is survivable as only 1 helo down in nearly 10 years of operational service in 2 theatres shows.

Running a helicopter compared to a fixed wing aircraft is a pointless comparison. Of course they cost a heap more to run, but you wear that cost (within reason) because they do things that no fixed wing aircraft can do.

We owned the Bous. Yes, but they could no longer do what we needed them to in the type of war zones we face. The Chinook can. The C-27 can too. We own the D model Chinooks as well remember? We are already buying 7 new F models, I would suggest re-manufacturing the 5 existing D models into F models to give us an overall fleet of 12 Chinooks, which is a far better investment in my opinion than re-engining Bous we can't use where we want to anyway.

You also misunderstand the King Airs. They are a temporary replacement until ADF gets it's act together and buys it's C-27 or C-295 fleet. They are useful for light transport duties, but they are very useful for pilots that need to retain qualifications on a modern type. Much easier to convert from a King Air to a C-27 I'd imagine and RAAF things with some of those King Airs that a Caribou could never do from all reports.

You might want to Google MC-12W to understand the sort of thing I'm talking about. :)

Bonza said...


ADF has not completely lost it's mind. Only 4 completely worn out C-130H models have been retired.

8 remain in service for a combined RAAF C-130 fleet of 20 aircraft and will do so at least until 2013 and possibly 2016 if RAAF gets it's own way.

RAAF is apparently pushing hard for those 8 H models to remain in-service alongside the J models and the "battlefield airlifter" - BFA's project which should provide at least 10 aircraft to fill many of the C-130 roles that RAAF may once have flown.

RAAF's apparent "back-up" plan is the acquisition of additional BFA's to offset the loss of the H models given that a C-27J for instance can carry about 75% of the C-130J load (90% of the H model load) as far as a C-130J can, at a cheaper overall cost.

When you consider that most RAAF C-130J lifts are well below the maximum capacity anyway, the C-27J (or C-295) argument makes sense.

If they win their argument, you'll see a fleet of 5 C-17's, 12 C-130J's, 8 upgraded/refurbished C-130H's or quite a few more than 10 BFA's.

A fleet virtually the same in numbers as the "hey day" (especially when you take availability of modern aircraft into account) but one with far greater lift capacity, range and survivability to the traditional RAAF airlift model, at the expense admittedly of extra logistical and acquisition cost.

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi Bonza. Most of what you say re the Air Force wish list makes sense, except that it has holes when you consider PNG and neighbouring country operations where there are lots of places that a C-7 could go that a C-130 cannot, nor a C-27 which has similar characteristics to the Herc.

Operating costs just cannot be blithely dismissed as these are soaring, so there has to be a suitable mix of adequate and more specialised hardware.

For some unfathomable reason, our defence planners seem to be more or less dismissive of our extensive air operations throughout the archipelago region post-WW2, and particularly after Vietnam wherein the Caribou was the cost-effective work horse. It also performed an invaluable role supporting the US Special Forces detachments at very remote short rudimentary insecure airstrips throughout Vietnam, not real short range tasking by any means.

Defence and the ADF are dreaming if they think all of their capability plans are going to come to fruition, as the funding will simply not be available considering other foreseeable national imperatives. As said previously, I do think some rationalisation of capabilities for all 3 armed forces is inevitable downstream, so it might be that more Chinooks will replace the Caribou and the C-27 may not emerge.

For some relatively modest outlays, some forfeited capabilities could be recovered to repair declining adequate and credible military preparedness. But those shortcomings must first be admitted and the whole defence policy bent away from primarily subsidising largely foreign-parented arms industry through continual acquisition of new and largely unproven hardware. No better proof of directional folly in that regard than acquisition of Tiger and MRH90, as will become more obvious the further those flawed projects progress.

Peter said...

The Caribou certainly was a slow old duck. I have a mate whom many years ago was flying over the nullarbor plain in one and watched the train far below slowly overtake them.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, NO C-130Hs have been retired. The RAAF has drawn down the fleet to eight due to capacity restraints at 37SQN, but all four "retired" aircraft can and likely will be reactivated again and rotated through the fleet.

RAAF has plans to keep eight active C-130Hs on strength until 2016 at this stage, although this is yet to be signed off by the Minister!

ELP said...

And here is Clare's official version of C-130 status from a press release today.--

Minister thanks crews at RAAF Richmond for work in Queensland natural disasters

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today visited RAAF Base Richmond to meet with the team who maintain Australia’s fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft and inspect the simulator used to train pilots to fly these planes.

Mr Clare was briefed by the Commander of Number 84 Wing, Group Captain Donald Sutherland, on the maintenance and operation of the C-130 fleet, including their recent work during the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi.

“C-130s from RAAF Base Richmond flew more than 170 hours in January and February for flood and cyclone relief in Queensland,” Mr Clare said.

“They transported a range of cargo including an inflatable habitat for the residents of Emerald, groceries and water for the stranded city of Rockhampton. They also assisted in the evacuation of hospital patients from Cairns to Brisbane.

“There are three C-130J Hercules aircraft based at Al-Minhad in Dubai transporting goods and troops to Afghanistan.

“None of that work is possible unless the aircraft are well-maintained.

“I’m here today to thank the crews that fly the aircraft and the team that maintain them to keep them in the air.”

There are 24 C-130 Hercules aircraft based at RAAF Base Richmond, flown and maintained by Number 37 Squadron.

Mr Clare said the Hercules has a long history with RAAF Base Richmond, where the first C-130A variants arrived in 1958.

“Number 37 Squadron has been based here at RAAF Base Richmond since 1966, and in 2006 took over all of Air Force’s C-130 operations,” Mr Clare said.

“It supported operations in Vietnam including bringing wounded Australian soldiers home.

“After Cyclone Tracy they assisted with evacuations and have supported peacekeeping missions in East Timor and Iraq.”

Crews operating C-130s use two simulators based at RAAF Base Richmond to supplement their training. Mr Clare also inspected the simulators and was briefed on the training benefits of using simulators.

“The C-130H simulator is used up to 12 hours each week day, providing 2000 hours training annually for pilots and aircrews,” Mr Clare said.

“It provides all levels of training from initial pilot training to mission rehearsals before deployment to operational areas like Afghanistan.

“These simulators give personnel real world experience, without needing to get in an aircraft.

“That means they get the training they need without the cost or risk of training in a real plane.”

The simulators are maintained by CAE Australia, which is contracted by Defence to support 15 of the Australian Defence Force’s simulators.

Media contact: Korena Flanagan – 02 6277 7620

ELP said...

I'd like to add to that that simulators are also there for recurrent training (stock safety procedures) of qualified crews.

Anonymous said...

Peter , Crap.
They cruised at between 120 and 150knots.
Must be a fast train. Maybe one from Japan

RS said...

Bonza, regarding the King Air, I am being facetious, it is useless.
I t is a classic example of the RAAF shedding a capability without replacing it.
We did start down the path of the MC-12W more than a decade ago, however the Army now has no fixed wing aircraft.

Bushranger 71 you are correct, it would appear that most do not study history, or refuse to do so.

Can you imagine the CH47 self deploying throughout Asia and beyond?

Bonza , the Ch47 costs at least 5 times an hour more to run than an upgraded Caribou.
Helicopters have to be torn apart regularly. Fixed wing aircraft do not.
Bugger all range Bonza?

Original Piston engines
Caribou, load 4 tons, 1200 miles at max weight of 28,500 lbs.
CH47, range, 4 tons 280 miles.
7.5 tons 50 miles.
Cruise speed.
Caribou. Max 158 knots
Ch47, 150 knots max, no load.
Ceiling Caribou 24,800 feet, CH47 16,000 feet

Now, after conversion with PT6, Caribou 60% improvement in payload range. Do your own calculations

An update Caribou does not cost $80 million per copy.

I am not saying that the CH47 does not have a place in the system, obviously it does.
However how can it self deploy long distances in Asia and beyond?
Hop from place to place, that describes a helicopter,even in original form it out performs the Chinook.

Bonza you did not read the link I provided, not that I am surprised. One eyed people, who are probably involved in the system usually do not
I will cut and paste a couple of sections to save you the trouble.

“Turbo modified "Turbo Caribou", N600NC, flying off Cape May, New Jersey in the USA. The
aircraft has accumulated over 500 flying hours. Completed a function and reliability trip in June2000 - over 7,000 nm flown in 51.4 hours; average fuel consumption - 910 lbs/hr; total oil
consumption - 1.5 qts per engine; no discrepancies; only tooling used - "a screwdriver to service
fuel and oil". (Pen Turbo)
Ever seen a CH47 do that, 7000 nm in 51.4 hours. Some hopping?

“In terms of performance capabilities, the Turbo
Caribou upgrade results in a 30% increase in
maximum payload capability as a result of the new
prop and sustained engine power rating, and a
greater than 60% improvement in payload/range
against the P&W-powered Caribou.”

“The new power plants also produce a 10% increase
in cruise speed and 30% reduction in time to climb
to cruising altitude, while permitting a higher cruise
altitude. “
“US forces
learned the hard way in Afghanistan and Iraq that
using heavy/medium lift helicopters for this niche
airlift role is expensive – so expensive that last year
a debate emerged in Washington on whether
alternatives existed to ‘burning out’ helicopter
fleets. “
“A slow non-manoeuvrable aircraft that has no defensive systems or ballistic protection, and you can hear from miles away”
Sounds like a helicopter to me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Caribou,Take off, max 28,500 lbs, 221 metres.
Landing, 28,500 lbs, 204 meters.
Original specs. Plus low pressure tire, can land in a swamp, after flying a long way to get there.
C27?, do not think so.

Is it not about time that there was some real intellect injected into Defence and DMO?
Limited capability, no cruise speed, no altitude capability, no load, and no survivability. (How many Chinooks lost in Afghanistan?)

Bonza your full of it.

Bonza said...


Your devotion to the Caribou is quite amazing. Obsession might be closer to the mark though when you clearly have to "fudge the figures" to get them right by comparing empty Caribou performance figures against loaded performance figures for the Chinook. You don't happen to call M113's the Gavin by any chance do you?

What was the Caribou's altitude with a full load? Try 13,000 feet.

What is the Chinooks lift capacity? 26,000lbs. Caribou's? 9000lbs.

Range? Ha. You are obfuscating and confusing radius with range. 200m? Nonsense. Try a radius of 450 miles for a start when loaded.

Caribou has a 2000k ferry range when fueled up as much as she will go and when empty, that is not it's loaded range and certainly not radius.

Cruise speed of the Bou? 180mph. empty. Loaded up? Barely 140mph. Cruise speed of the Chinook? 163mph empty and 155mph when loaded up with more weight than the Caribou could ever manage.

In terms of airlift capacity there is absolutely no comparison between the 2. Yes the Chinook is expensive, already admitted that. So what? The Caribou could never do what it can no matter how much money you'd pour into it.

Come back to me when your "turbo Caribou's" can do this.

How many Australian Chinooks have been lost in combat? Already answered that. Only 1 in ten years of operations in a theatre the Caribou couldn't even go into.

Bonza said...


Regarding the King Airs. It is clear you cannot understand their purpose. They are not useless, but it is true they do not replace the Caribou. However they are not meant to. They are meant to give the pilots something to fly until the BFA's enter service and they meet that requirement well.

The Caribou was always going in 2008. If RAAF didn't take on the King Air's 38 Sqn would have been disbanded. King Airs allow them to train on a reasonably modern platform and perform light utility tasks until the BFA arrives.

On top of which there is the ISR capability I mentioned earlier. We HAVE gone down that path and irrespective of your opinion of that capability or otherwise it is something that is very useful in any number of roles, most of which you have shown you don't even comprehend.

Atticus said...

Rs you are correct, he is full of it.
Bonza by your comments I believe you may be oart of the system.

Anonymous said...

Outside the Box?

RS said...

The figures quoted for the Caribou are at Max weight, 28,500 lbs.(before the PT6 injection)
SO you speak crap.
Do not let the truth get in the way of the those who are part of the "group think"
No one has said that the CH47 would not be part of the equation.
It is vital
Each has it's own contribution, except those who subscribe to"shiny and new", and have never lifted a spanner in the field.

Bonza said...

Not part of any "system" Atticus, in fact I retired a year or 2 back, but I know one thing for sure.

Chinooks provide capability. Caribous do not, but defence wouldn't win with you blokes anyway. Even if they did keep the Bou and run all the ridiculous upgrades you are proposing you'd no doubt turn around and blame them for spending $100m on 50 year old aircraft that still can't be used in places where someone might actually shoot at it anyway.

Enjoy fantasy land guys. I don't turn spanners, but at least my head is below the clouds...

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi again Bonza; some of what you have said is disturbing.

Chinook and Caribou obviously have some differing capabilities and the Caribou proved well-suited and cost-effective for regional archipelago operations. While the US Army emphasis is now more on rotary wing than fixed wing since the Vietnam War, it does not follow that Australia should religiously adopt their thinking, as the Australian Army has been inclined.

Back to some history. Slow (below 100 knots) very long range Catalinas, based at Rathmines near Newcastle and Bowen in Queensland, conducted numerous bombing/mining raids throughout the northern archipelago during WW2, including multiple attacks on heavily armed Japanese warships. A few aircraft were lost, but many survived intense anti-aircraft scenarios.

Kittyhawks at Milne Bay were continually amidst ground-fire and some pilots were lost there and when pushing Japanese forces back up the island chain. We lost 35 Australian pilots in Korea, mainly during ground attack missions. No. 9 Squadron RAAF operated Iroquois gunships in Vietnam for 900 days involving hundreds of close quarters engagements with the opposition, incurring mainly minor battle damage and low casualties. Being shot at is just what happens if you wish to come to grips with the enemy in the role of a sky warrior.

Ground attack capabilities have always been central to Air Force roles since WW2 and the Saltash air-to-ground weapons range near Williamtown, NSW is active on more days than not each week (I live adjacent); similarly with the range near Tindal, NT. This activity mostly does not relate to employment of stand-off weaponry, but training at getting in close to inflict maximum damage on the opposition from accurate cannon fire.

Your apparent apprehension Bonza regarding ground-fire risk has also been reflected by Army aviators in discussion in multiple threads on the 'PPRuNe' forum and I ponder just where such brainwashing originates! I guess few (if any) Service Chiefs have ever fired a shot in anger and majority of the civilian Defence planners would have zero military experience other than perhaps attending a staff college.

I have to totally disagree with your statement: '...Even if they did keep the Bou and run all the ridiculous upgrades you are proposing you'd no doubt turn around and blame them for spending $100m on 50 year old aircraft that still can't be used in places where someone might actually shoot at it anyway...'

RAAF Caribou operated continually into insecure environs in Vietnam incurring some minor damage from ground-fire and mortars. Why would it be much different in PNG for example considering that MANPADS have not dominated battlefields anywhere since Vietnam and the ground-fire threat in Afghanistan for instance is pretty comparable?

Cost-effective refurbishment/upgrade of Kiowa, Iroquois to Huey II (and maybe acquiring more at just $2million unit cost), Blackhawk, Sea Hawk, Sea King, Caribou, C-130H, P-3C is the obvious course to recover and maintain diminishing capabilities in lieu of recklessly squandering more taxpayer funding on unsuitable and largely unproven hardware. That is far from a ridiculous proposition and if not pursued, then ADF military capacity will continue to decline. See also:

Anonymous said...

People tend to forget the Basler DC3.
An even more interesting point is that it is a Commercial success.
Outside the box.

RS said...

Bushranger you talk too much sense

RS said...

Bushranger you talk too much sense

Gobsmacked said...

Came across this site.
"Super Moderator"
Wow do you wield your "power", banning people for having an opinion that does not match yours.
Wow, do you have a uniform?
Red or gold braid?

Bonza said...

No more than Eric does Gobsmacked and the "rank" on that site is directly related to the the number of posts made. It has nothing to do with who is allowed to post what or who must be "obeyed" or anything. Anyone can post whatever they like within the rules of the forum.

Super Moderator is an admin setting that lets those authorised moderate all the forums. Some you'll notice ony wish to moderate some threads. The webmaster asked me to help moderate the whole forum and by gaining Super Mod status is how one does that. I never asked for it and I like to think I moderate in a pretty fair and even handed way. You can of course think whatever you like.

Bushranger, gven 3 of those aircraft have been completely removed from service or will be by December, I see little benefit in pushing that same old barrow, irrespective of what servce they may have provided in the past.

Can you name one single major platform that has ever been completely removed from ADF service and then brought back years later in an upgraded form?

Ironically enough, the Chinook is the only capability I can think of that has ever done this...

Ely said...

Live and let live. But what is that last post of Bonza's talking about? I am puzzled. Is Bonza some committee of taste or appropriateness filter?
The discussion as interesting as it is, Chook versus Boo is way off topic. But Bushranger 71 and others (Bonza included) shed interesting light on a serious problem we have re utility lift (over the shore and) in the AO. B71 particularly is talking about a capability and how to provide for that diminishing role capacity rather than in defence of a particular platform - CH 47, which Bonza appears to be about. All that is fair and potentially useful if we are having a free conversation.
Is Bonza some sort of referee, sheepdog and/or thought police?
What is going on here please?
Incidently, our amphibious capability-which the MV 22 is primarily in USMC service to provide for and in support of, remains in a markedly deficient state with the ADF. We have not much talked about that.

Bushranger 71 said...

Bonza; 6 x RAAF C-130E were recently refurbished and introduced into service with the Pakistani Air Force. Apparently, discarded B707 are also being enhanced for further service elsewhere.

The Tiger and MRH90 are dogs unsuited for their intended roles, yet Defence will apparently not freeze intentions to dispose of Iroquois and Blackhawk despite creating complete lack of a battlefield utility helo capability. That is just mindless irresponsibility at the highest planning levels.

The Americans wisely place all of their replaced types into dry climate storage so they can be refurbished and optimised if appropriate. That of course is infinitely wise capability insurance.

Conversely, Australia seems to stampede toward disposal of relatively low time airframes, often at giveaway prices. Would it not have made more sense to store Dakotas, C-130A, C-130E, Caribou, Iroquois, etcetera at Woomera considering the upgrade/optimisation programs for these types ongoing around the world?

It does of course cost to store military hardware not in service, but a pittance really compared with the inherent military value of the assets. The absolute dumbness of DoD in this regard is inexcusable. Apparently, storage at Woomera now seems likely for some civilair types.

Regarding CH-47C Chinook; it was a technical dog. Army said Blackhawk would suffice so Air Force closed down the squadron. Army later realised Chinook needed and took 4 of 11 awaiting disposal, which were ultimately upgraded to CH-47D and 2 more of that model acquired. Had the remaining 7 Charlie models been put into dry climate storage, those reserve platforms could have also been upgraded.

Goldeel1 said...

Bushranger 71,

I agree with your point entirely about creating our own "boneyard" and more to the point not ditching capabilities at the first outbreak of shiny new toy syndrome. And this is why I will shortly point out my objection to an ADF Osprey purchase.

I would contend however that it was not really the RAAF or the Army who came to the dumb conclusion that we could do without the Chinook circa 1989 but rather the Government of the day and in particular defence minister Robert Ray who gave birth to that piece of idiocy. And any claim that the C model was crap almost certainly came from that office as a neat excuse to cut costs. Funny how the even earlier A models had managed to do ok in the steamy tropics and hill areas of Vietnam isn't it Mr Ray?

I well remember the debacle of the Kangaroo 89 exercise just months after the mothballing of the Chinook when the Army suddenly realised that they could not transfer some artillery or radar posts without the Chinook to anywhere unless there was a road that neatly lead there. Like I already said, idiocy.

As for the Caribou, well yes you could re-engine it but frankly if they wanted some kind of STOL fixed wing I would do one of two other things. First hammer DHC to come up with a cost effective modern Caribou/Buffalo successor and probably base as much of it as possible off the proven technology of the Dash-8. In fact an enlarged fuselage section mated to the basic wing but with possibly some extra STOL features and the same engines and avionics would probably be just right (as long as you replace that damn troublesome self disassembling under cart!) and you would be looking at a decent speed increase over the DHC-4 straight off as well. Or why not just go and buy Dash-8-200/300's straight out with a cargo door. Again greatly improved cruise seed and range and minimal STOL performance loss over the DHC-4/5. Around 12-14 would cover the bases nicely and be an economical buy. Anything left that needed super STOL or VERTREP could be dealt with by a fleet of 12-14 CH-47F's again more economical and tactically useful than 5-7 as is currently the case/planned case.

Just a point of note on desert storage though Bushranger 71. The proposed new civilian storage facility is to be at Alice Springs not Woomera, although I take your point anyway and frankly either location is a blindingly obvious location for an aircraft storage and rejuvenation centre.

Now as for the Osprey in ADF service. Sure why not, it would be a great fit and could do most of (but not all) the jobs of both the Caribou and the Chinook. Provided of course that you can get it for somewhere between half and one quarter of the current list price and you are prepared to get a minimum of 24 to 28 airframes. Otherwise dont even waste the ink and paper coming up with a fantasy folly to justify it.

Goldeel1 said...


My apologies time has dimmed my memory. The Chinook mothball decision was taken towards the end of Beasley's term as minister not Ray's. However it was Ray who was left to come up with the silly excuses.

Goldeel1 said...

And one more unrelated but nagging thing about this blog site.

Will people PLEASE start giving themselves identities like a name. It has been getting increasingly difficult in the last few days to work out exactly which "anonymous" is saying what and to whom. Just type a name guys and stick with it.

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi Goldeel1; thank you for correcting me re the Alice Springs dry climate storage bit.

Re CH-47C. We shared unit accommodation and a hangar with 12SQN when I was CO 9SQN. They really struggled to keep about 4 aircraft on-line from 12 and unsuccessfully pushed hard for an engine test stand so the squadron could do their own hot end inspections. A decade or so later, 12SQN fought to retain the aircraft, but were overruled. The eventual upgrade of some Charlie models to CH-47D embraced systems redesign to make the aircraft more reliable.

Further re dry climate reserve storage for supposedly obsolescent airframes. Have a browse of the AMARC inventory ( and note the C-47 Dakota and UH-1H Iroquois listings. PNG was more or less built by the Dakota/DC3 (see 'BALUS') and the Basler BT-67 would be a pretty good substitute for the Caribou, with no C-7 enhancement program seemingly on the horizon.

But that lot in Canberra do not seem capable of cost-effective solutions outside their 'group think' mindset. They seem uninterested in recovering/maintaining diminishing capabilities to assure adequate military preparedness for unforeseeable military contingencies that may eventuate between now and their ridiculous Force 2030 vision. Just gross negligence.

RS said...

Viking Air has put the DH6 back into production, and own the rights to the DH4 to DH7.

Ely said...

My take is that a fleet of 12-14 CH 47F's would not to meet our amphibious requirements including aid to the civil power/disaster relief operations. That is the case now and will probably continue to be so after FOC of LPD and fielding of out phases of JP 2048 (Amphibious Deployment and Sustainment). 12-14 units does not provide the required availability. Additionaly in amphibious operation/LOTS, bigger (ie more payload/range) is not always better-though there will always be a place for CH-47. Effectively-sufficient-payload but multi-unit flexibility is often the dominating need and consideration.
In the meantime we need to achieve the maximum seagoing capability from our fleets of Blackhawk and MRH on every platform that we have including those of near neighbors and STUFT, which is fitted with aviation facilities primarily a flightdeck but including VERTREP and HIFR etc). And I include the smaller platforms (FFG's and ANZAC's) in the consideration. Blackhawk is not optimised for seagoing and remains limited particularly in the absence of Manoora, Kanimbla and Tobruk and I hear that MRH may be similarly restricted in terms of its deck stability, securing and movement about the flightdeck. But we do need to work to develop this aspect our existing (or supposedly imminent) ORBAT.
I agree with Goldeel1 that we have more than enough to be going on with without seeking to procure MV 22. But with that said USMC is by 2019 replacing all of its CH 46 with MV 22. The transition has commenced. And USMC is not the only operator. So it behoves us (I propose) to get across MV 22 operations with our platforms ASAP so that we can effectively cross-operate to achieve maximum capability. This is a "practical consideration of MV 22 in Australian service".The requirement to do this exists now.
None of my ramble cuts across the interesting discussion by BR71 and others.
Please dont lose sight of the fact that our seagoing utility aviation capability is more than a bit neglected at the minute. It requires a slightly different mindset. But it is not rocket surgery.

RS said...

An idea of the use of smaller transports in theatre.

Atticus said...

The C-23 Sherpa, I had not seen anything relating to that aircraft for eons.
Gees Bonza almost as old as the Caribou.
Interesting article which shows the need for such aircraft as well as the CH47.
We do know that they are to be replaced.

ELP said...

Sherpa was uninspired junk.

Did the mishap photography for an event some years back were Army National Guard crew and USAF reserve (somewhere around 23 dead)

While the mishap had not too much to do with the aircraft itself (poor weather mission planning, poor understanding of COG/loading vs. aircraft performance, poor crew understanding of weather radar, poor MX on same radar and some other factors, the aircraft is still uninspired junk. One engine performance isn't something to brag about either.

Atticus said...

Could be, however I believe the concept is what we are talking about.
These type of aircraft have a role.

Have no idea of the ins and outs of the Sherpa, however it does seem to have done the job.
My only experince was as a passenger in the Shorts Skyvan, in PNG in the late 60's?( with Bill Baldwin of Northern NSW, brother of Ernie, a business partner of my father.)
Seemed to work Ok at the time.Some pretty steep slopes in PNG.