Sunday, November 6, 2011

More confusion with Australia's helicopter roadmap

It is always good to have an operator (past or present) put their eye on the Defence White Paper of 2009. Or at least an operator that hasn't gone native to the Defence bureaucracy.

One significant quote was found by Bushranger on this this forum. Read all of his posts on that link.

That feat was accomplished in the late 1960s, yet complied with the Operational Flexibility intent of DWP2009, Chapter 8.61 - Australia cannot afford to maintain a large number of narrowly applicable capabilities. The future development of the ADF is to emphasise, wherever possible, operational flexibility and multi-role employment in the ADF's systems, platforms and organisations. This might involve, for example, achieving greater platform flexibility by way of inter-changeable modular design and construction techniques.

He also has the best short summary of why the Sea Sprite for Australia died.

Also what is surprising is the stripped-not-equipped approach to Australia's purchase of the Romeo. I am surprised at the idea of not keeping full ASW ability on this airframe. The problem is when you need ASW ability on the airframe, you also need a well trained community of ASW operators that have been created by lots of peacetime training.

The submarine population in the Pacific Rim is growing not diminishing.

Bushranger makes a good argument that the Sierra would have been over-all, a better value.


Atticus said...

Bushranger, as usual you make sense.
Fifty airframes to be resold, or more likley "given" away as foreign aid.If Kevin is still around.
What a basis they could be for an active reserve.
In addition, I have read that there is an idea to relocate some of the C130H fleet, free of charge to Indonesia?

Anonymous said...

The article in the link that you have provided doesn't mention anything about "stripped not equipped".

It mentions that LM is developing a variant of the MH-60R ordered for the RAN - Not A variant of the MH-60R for the RAN. Subtle difference...

Its highlighted again in the second last paragraph "the proposed variant would be cheaper than the current production model, of which the RAN is the first international customer.... "


Atticus said...

Fitted for but not with, as is usual with the RAN, as my mate always said and who shared my accomodation in the
1980's, whilst at HMAS Morteon.

Bushranger 71 said...

Somebody somewhere has apparently realised that a costly shipboard helo stuffed full of hardware does not have the versatility to cope with general naval support roles like ship to shore and boarding party movement. The MH-60R also does not have the cabin space of the MH-60S or the larger cabin doors so why acquire a more cramped platform permanently fitted with complex gear, some of which may seldom be utilised? Maintaining all of the on-board MH-60R hardware in operational condition, some of which may only get very occasional use, might further inhibit the on-line availability of 1 or 2 helos on a warship. Demountable dipping sonar is pretty compact kit and if a ship was deployed for say anti-piracy work, just hang a couple of NC621 low recoil 20mm cannon pods (with 500 rounds of HE) on an MH-60S.

The absurd Aerospace Capability Implementation Roadmap – Rotary Wing (ACIR-RW) - a new grandly bureaucratic title - has created glaring capability gaps. This flawed planning was a child of the Helicopter Systems Division of DMO when headed by AAAvn and completely forsakes operational readiness and cost-effectiveness considerations. That it is being allowed to progress reflects poorly on ADF leadership. Consider also the numerous Defence ministerial/parliamentary secretary changes since the 2007 Australian federal election. How many of those guys would have had a clue about what they were dealing with concerning approvals for hardware acquisitions and were/are any of them aware of the Operational Flexibility intent of DWP2009, Chapter 8.61?

Absurdly, well-proven utility helo capability is being shed (Iroquois, Blackhawk) with apparent downstream vision of maybe acquiring a twin engine trendy 'light utility helicopter' without back end crew or defensive armaments. Inappropriate parallel use of such a platform for basic helo pilot training seems also envisaged.

The lessons of past conflicts and extensive helo operations throughout the neighbouring wet tropics archipelago are not being heeded and DoD planners are seemingly more bent on cooking up deals for largely foreign-parented defence industry than maintaining adequate and credible military preparedness.

Albatross said...

Amen,amen, amen to everything you say, Bushranger. Angus Houston, with his extensive rotary wing experience, was in a unique position to question with some authority some (if not all) of the decisions made in regard to ADF helicopter acquisitions over the last decade and more. The fact that he didn't speaks volumes.

AAVN seems to have made some very strange decisions, (some would be tempted to say) for no other reason than the direction they were taking was NOT the way the RAAF would have done it.

Ely said...

On this occasion you paint with too broad a brush and not all of your discourse is on this site.But could I please point to ANAO report No 41 of 2008-2009 (The Super Seasprite) Navy did not in fact select the Super Seasprite as you say elsewhere.The selection was made by Defence on the basis of an eventually ruinous bunch of in some cases mutually compounding facters discussed by ANAO.
But most of all please let naval aviation get on with the procurement of the proven, supported naval Romeo system. For once there is just a chance we may end up with something that works in the operational environment. Your talk of other options with one-off yet to be developed configurations to "better" satisfy undefined utility functions (in this case) is what has always, I repeat always got us into trouble in the past.
Let us get on with it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we can't afford any more 'Australianised' disasters that never seem to work, Ely, but in the current economic situation (and the even more parlous future), I think we're being totally unrealistic to think we can afford stand alone high cost specialist helicopters that are unsuitable multi-role platforms when neither the Army nor the Navy have a viable utility helicopter - and don't look like getting one any time soon.

Ely said...

Dear Anonomous,
Thanks. And I do agree with you. But the Romeo is capable of performing the required utility roles. The grab-all and undefined "multi Role" frame of reference being applied here is unhelpful because it is misleading (and it is oft forgotten that our current Seahawk is a Role Adaptable Weapon System -RAWS so this is not a new discussion). It is true that the Romeo cannot carry 18 or so troop with their equipment even if they are substantially unsecured in OCL configuration as is of necessity the case with tactical utility helicopters. But the Romeo is provably capable of performaing the required embarked utility tasks.
If you will forgive me I would rather steer completely clear of the MRH90 issue thanks.

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi Ely; a Navy colleague was employed on the Seasprite project (which I was invited to visit at Nowra) and he tells a different story about who drove the concept; but that's history.

Regarding so-called 'Australianisation' of military hardware, which is being misconstrued by many. Adaptation of type certified bits of kit is not creating orphan versions of particular aircraft types. There are numerous variations in service around the world whereby nations choose to configure platforms differently and there is generally no necessity for costly R&D or involving agencies like DSTO or whoever. Modular dipping sonar for example is already type-certified for Seahawk and Sea King. And some of the wide-ranging discussion in this forum regarding air combat capabilities advocates fitment of differing systems and weaponry to fixed wing platforms. Australia does not have the capacity to just blindly follow the US in having 'narrowly applicable capabilities' and versatility of hardware is more appropriate for the smallish ADF.

Blackhawk was designed to carry 10 fully equipped troops, as can UH-1Y and Huey II. More cabin space and larger access doors suit those types more for easier egress of say boarding parties by whatever means. The Sierra has the larger Blackhawk fuselage and is thus better suited than the cramped Romeo. A rescue hoist and maybe dipping sonar could probably remain permanently fitted to an MH-60S and still carry an adequate size boarding party, but not so for the Romeo.

The question begged is why has DoD more or less ignored the Operational Flexibility provision in DWP2009, Chapter 8.61?

Ely said...

Dear BR 71,
I responded to your latest last night. It didnt make the cut apparently. So I will try again
Regardless of your colleagues recollections, the Seasprite selection was made through the process covered in the ANAO report I identified earlier. No point in belaboring the issue.
I no longer have access to the technical data necessary to provide an informed opinion on your proposition re Australianised Sierra or "export version" of the Romeo as it seems to be discussed. But both are notional configurations as you talk about them I think. Therefore any direct comparison with the Romeo needs to be heavily conditioned with the implicit risks. If you did that the justification of Romeo's selection becomes more obvious particularly in light of our experience with developmental helicopter projects. I keep saying that the Romeo is capable of performing embarked utility including carriage of a boarding party (if you wanted to deploy a boarding party by your single helo). Perhaps you could kindly let me know what aspect of the Op.flexibility requirment has been ignored.