Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Big money for Caribou replacement

Defence is now infamous for getting rid of existing capability and replacing it with something that has dumbed-down logistics/support, is much more expensive and in the end isn't a real "replacement".

Consider this read about the Caribou "replacement" project. Both the C-295 and C-27 are good aircraft however they are not a "replacement" for the Caribou. Certainly not with the money involved.

The Caribou had a lot of potential to soldier on for those who were not lazy. Performing a refurb was not impossible. See this PDF on the topic.

Today, the C-295 is cheaper to procure and operate than a C-27. The C-27 is probably more survivable.

The replacement could cost around $1.5 billion.

We are seeing more and more signs that this Defence bureaucracy is not responsible with tax dollars. The Caribou "replacement" is just one more example.


Bushranger 71 said...

The C-27 Spartan is basically a little Herc and does not really compare with the characteristics of a turbo Caribou for operations in the regional archipelago. Even the BT-67 (turbo Dakota) would be a better proposition than either the very expensive C-27 or C-295. But the Australian DoD is just not interested in cost-effective
hardware options, just cooking up deals to support foreign-parented defence industry.

Perplexed said...

As we know the Caribou was retired on a lie.
Both the Minister and Angus advised that the the structure was corroded and there was, gasp, "asbestos " riddling the aircraft. Both false, as the airframes were maintained meticulously in Brisbane.
There was no asbestos in the engine areas,as it had been removed.
The only problem was the engines, shown to be easily replaced as per the Pen Turbo program.
One of these beasts was based in Qld a couple of years back.

Anonymous said...

Not sure they're really after a 1:1 replacement but rather a light tactical transport that can carry standard pallets.

The issue is that a lot of the time a herd is only half full.

Anonymous said...

Considering the pilots had lost confidence in the aircraft, I think there was a little more too it than minor corrosion and asbestos...

At the end of their lives they were flying death traps.

They also no longer had a military role but trained exclusively for defence aid to the civil community. Theres a place for that role but it's not in the military.

Perplexed said...

The potential problem was the engines, easily fixed.
Everyone knew that.
Suggest you look up the article sited by Eric and the site for Pen Turbo, or would that be a step too far.
As to flying deathtrap, I suggest that you speak to those who maintained them in Brisbane.
Your facts are flawed.

Anonymous said...

"They also no longer had a military role but trained exclusively for defence aid to the civil community. Theres a place for that role but it's not in the military."
Amazing.What can anyone say.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter who fixed them. Of course they back their work. By that logic people should eat up LM's take on the F-35.

The people who matter are those who put their pink bodies in green aeroplanes. It was an obsolete platform No longer capable of a military role.

Perplexed said...

Wow, what ignorance.
Your lack of facts and knowledge is breathtaking.Keep going, and no wonder you remain anon.

Albatross said...

I doubt you'd find one military man who has personally seen the almost unique - and affordable - capabilities of the Caribou in places like the Highlands of New Guinea or in the islands around New Guinea who would not wish to have those capabilities at his disposal if he was ever in the future to command or be part of a military commitment in that area.

Anonymous, I apologise if the comment following seems to be playing the man rather than the issue, but with the greatest respect, with the gasp-inducing comments you have made on this topic, you come across as a DoD/DMO stooge.

A ninth grade history student can see that Australia is currently following a well-beaten path, making every mistake this country made in 1939-41 in committing our military all to a war half a world away at the expense of planning and equipping our forces for one we might well have to fight, sooner than some might expect, on our largely undeveloped, tropical doorstep.

As Bushranger71 has said before me, it's past time when we should be choosing major equipment for the capabilities it will give our troops rather than how many jobs and how much money it will provide to (not!)our defence industry.

Perplexed said...

Albatross, even though the politicians may have been behind the eight ball in 1939, at least Essington Lewis of BHP had the foresight to invest in the Aircraft Industry, steel furnaces etc.
Mr Geoffrey Blainey wrote a book, " The Steel Master".
A must read.
How simple is that?

Albatross said...

I don't see any modern day Essington Lewises out there Perplexed. Do you? His modern day equivalents are all busy as all getout moving their factories to China.

I just hope my son doesn't find himself thrown into battle in the modern day equivalent of 1942's 53rd Battalion. I fear there's a very real risk that all too many Australians' sons will be.

Perplexed said...

Albatross, how true, except my children like others have grown up in a benign environment in middle class luxury with Excellent education. And because of this no idea that the world is full of nasty people.
There would be panic if the airconditiong did not work.
Anyway some sage advice from someone who would know:

"These are the last pages in the book written by Sir John Monash at the end of WW1.The last person knighted in the field for 200 years. (His real name was John Monasch, and his parents came from Germany)
The book is, The Australian Victories in France in 1918.
Apart for his own musings, if you read the other literature, the 6 Australian Divisions actually physically finished WW1 and invented the Blitzkrieg, and Guderian took this book to Hitler in 1936 and said this is the way to go.
Monash noted the following, how appropriate today. Pages 297 and 298

It may be appropriate to end this memoir on a personal note. I have permitted myself a tone of eulogy for the triumphant achievements of the Australian Army Corps in 1918, which I have endeavoured faithfully to portray. Let it not be assumed on that account that the humble part which it felt to my lot to perform afforded me any satisfaction or prompted any enthusiasm for war. Quite the contrary.

From the far-off days of 1914, when the call first came, until the last shot was fired, every day was filled with loathing, horror, and distress. I deplored all the time the loss of precious life and the waste of human effort. Nothing could have been more repugnant to me than realisation of the dreadful inefficiency and the misspent energy of war. Yet it had to be, and the thought always uppermost was the earnest prayer that Australia might forever be spared such a horror on her own soil.

There is, in my belief, only one way to realize such a prayer. The nation that wishes to defend its land and its honour must spare no effort; refuse no sacrifice to make itself so formidable that no enemy will dare to assail it. A League of Nations may be an instrument for the preservation of peace, but an efficient Army is a far more potent one.

The essential components of such an Army are a qualified Staff, and adequate equipment and a trained soldiery. I state them in what I believe to be their order of importance, and my belief is based upon the lessons which this war has taught me. In that way alone can Australia secure the sanctity of the territory and the preservation of her independent liberties.

Such a creed is not militarism, but is of the very essence of national self-preservation. Four long years before the war it was a creed of a small handful of men in Australia, who braved the indifference and even the ridicule of public opinion in order to try to qualify themselves for the test when it should come.

Four dreadful years of war have served to convince me of the truth of that creed, and you confirm me in the belief that the men of the coming generation, if they love the country, must take up the burden of these men have had to bear.
Pages 297 and 298
The Australian Victories in France in 1918
Written By
Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash in 1918
G.C.M.G, K.C.B, V.D, D.C.L., LLD.
Republished by
The Naval& Military Press Ltd
The Imperial War Museum, London

Anonymous said...

If John Monash had been an American, every American schoolchild would know his name and everything about him. Here, among the younger generations, he's virtually unknown - except for the university in Melbourne that bears his name, which perversely, has become a hotbed of everything he would have abhorred.

Perplexed said...

Agreed, amongst some of his achievements was the construction of the Australian War Memorial in Melbourne, and Anzac day.

goldeel1 said...

I wonder if an alternative airframe might be the Dash-8. It would be a toss up as to whether you buy Q400's which might be a bit long for the purpose, or purchase late model -300's refurbished and converted to freighter config with palletized seating. There is certainly precedent for this rugged aircraft being used in military service and a conversion program for passenger to freighter has already been carried out. And I will guarantee that any program launched and run along commercial lines will be infinitely cheaper than C-27 or even C-295. As a bonus there are large numbers in service locally and will remain in service here for many years to come. Not to mention that they are widely used in the Asia/Pacific region which is precisely where these machines should be expected to operate.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, there are only a handful of strips in PNG that can't still be accessed by 38SQN King Airs.

Peplexed said...

Hey Viking Air put the DH6 back into production,plenty of sales.
Why not the DH4?
The Nomad( with bettr engines) is back in production in 2013, Gippsland Aeronautics.
A bit of thinking outside the box? Could be a market?

Anonymous said...

Looks like C-27 is going to happen.

Albatross said...

goldee1,the very thought of Australia opting for a 'one off' bastardised / militarisied / Australianised Dash 8 (or any other) airframe causes me to shudder to the very core of my being. It's a recipe for yet another 'uniquely Australian' overbudget, very late and underperforming camel.

If the C-27 is expensive, at least, (so long as the RAAF does a C-17 and resists any temptation to Australianise the bog standard USAF version of the C-27), it will work - and even possibly arrive on time. Something, (with the exception of the C-17 and the F-18, only because the RAAF bought the unmodified stock standard USAF/USN product), that has been almost unheard of in ADF major purchases in many, many years.

goldeel1 said...


I couldn't agree more that a one off Australiansed and bastardized variant is a recipe for another Seasprite type fiasco. But that is not what I am suggesting. You will note that I said "run along commercial lines", that means DONT let the DMO or brass play with it. All the suggestions I put forward are already there. It is simply a matter of choosing which airframe type to go with and acquiring appropriate numbers. I would add that there is also a cockpit upgrade now available that brings earlier series aircraft up to the Q400 standard. In short we can borrow from the Canadians the operational envelope clearance and system of maintenance used for military variants without expensive qualification being necessary. The cargo conversion is already available for a fixed price. And a cockpit upgrade would further reduce costs and increase reliability, it would also bring them to the same standard as their civilian counterparts thus increasing the potential spares pool.

I have been looking for prices on airframes but not much is available. However a 1990 model 102 series with 33 thousand odd hours on the clock was for sale at 3.2m US. Given that a new 300 (which were in production till about 2009) was around 18-20 million you would be looking at around or possibly slightly less, 15 million for a low time machine I would think, add in the conversion cost, upgraded cockpit and a "D" check and you add around 10-12 million. So for around $25 million you get an as new machine. That is far better than the quoted $950 million for 10 that we are being offered for the C-27J and a Dash-8 would burn vastly smaller amounts of fuel. The only real difference being that the C-27 has about a 20 knot speed advantage over a series 300 (a Q400 however is considerably faster still at 360kts) and an admittedly higher payload, 11,500kg versus 5138kg for a -300 or 8670kg for a Q400. Frankly at something approaching 1/4 the cost of a Spartan I know what I would pick. The C-27 is so expensive that it will be treated with kit gloves and frankly 10 airframes seem to me to be a bit too thin on the ground.

Going for Ch-47F's sees the basic unit price at around $35-38 million, still a fraction of a Spartan. Even the gold plated Osprey comes out at around $67 million for the CV-22 variant. So it would seem that due to incompetent leadership, snake oil merchants and a DMO that wont look outside the box we either got the horror of an unnecessary Australiansed Frankenstein or the platinum edition. Pity the poor taxpayer in all this, "oh wait, I am one of those taxpayers". Talk about a rock and a hard place.

Bushranger 71 said...

Some interesting historical discussion here. We lost 3 family in WW1 and another survived until his late 80s despite having been badly gassed - I sat with him to watch the first moon landing and the awe on his face is an indelible memory. Another captured at the fall of Singapore spending 3.5 years on the Burma railway. On several occasions as a barefoot kid, I ran up and down the railway platform at Mornington Victoria buying pies and drinks for US Marines who had recuperated at Balcombe after the fierce Guadalcanal campaign before being shipped out to Peleliu and Okinawa, many of them not making it back home. A brother served with Army in Malaya, me RAAF and nephews with Army post-Vietnam and some still serving. So I am sensitive to the necessity for Australia to maintain adequate and credible military preparedness, which is why I keep hammering that aspect in multiple forums. But the question arises, just what are adequate forces?

Australia did a good job in helping build the PNG nation and gained a vast amount of aviation experience in that very demanding and inhospitable air environment. From 1960s onwards, that broadened to helicopter operations throughout the archipelago, including Indonesia. However, comments in this and other forums suggest there is a pretty shallow appreciation within the Australian DoD, and perhaps even the ADF, of the military operating challenges in our near neighbourhood. East Timor is hardly a model.

The only replacement for a Caribou is an upgraded one and the Huey II for the Iroquois, if Australia really wants to maintain the military capacity we once possessed for operations in that extreme environment. There are multiple airfields where only a 'Bou can go, mostly with quite restricted low strength manoeuvring area. Anonymous (21/12 9:09AM) advocates palletised loading, but dumping them out the back would effectively close many small airfields, at least temporarily, because ground handling gear is sparse.

The thread topic has been exhaustively debated in another forum with many of the 'trashies' contributing and I do not recall mention of any catastrophic platform failures for the Caribou or aircrew having lost confidence in the aircraft as Anonymous (21/12 9:14AM) infers. That comes across to me as the usual DoD spin tactic to negate criticism of their flawed decisions/intentions.

It is not realistic these days for Australia to possess large military expeditionary forces as once existed, nor is Australia at risk of invasion when easily neutered by economic measures or simple paralysing of crucial infrastructure to exert political pressure. It seems more likely that Australian assistance might be sought to counter insurrection or insurgency regionally, requiring compact more mobile forces. Independent companies achieved considerable success against Japanese forces in WW2 and air mobility/support of patrolling infantry company groups in PNG has since been in vogue for decades. But much of the military hardware in service or being acquired is quite unsuited for regional wet tropics operations, especially Army gear. Methinks 2 x LPD aircraft carriers will also prove needless and be an encumbrance for the Navy, as amphibious support vessels like HMAS Choules and smaller would have been quite adequate.

DWP2009/Defence Capability Plan goals are also fast becoming unaffordable. Consider the knee-jerk acquisitions of Super Hornets, 2 more amphibious support ships, more C-17s and Chinooks plus other unscheduled gear for Afghanistan. While some of these have been wise moves, downstream hardware purchases will consequently be less affordable considering the world and national economic outlook; so will around $1.5 billion for C-27 Spartans be justifiable? Prematurely discarding useful capabilities (F-111, Iroquois, Caribou) and then more or less forcing acquisition of expensive replacements downstream is no way to maintain a credible military posture.

Snorbak said...

Even though the Caribou was "old", its not reason to dump the aircraft from service. There are B52's flying that are 40+ years old & are expected to remain in service for another 20 years!
Too often old is mis-represented as stuffed & is a play on words.
There were a significant number of refurb options avail to keep the aircraft viable well into the future.
The simple fact is that no other tactical transport available can do what the Caribou did so well. Try getting a heavy C27 or C295 into some of the short, one way strips in the PNG highlands in the middle of summer with belting rain & the cloud closing in. Its not a situation that you would willingly put yourself into yet an environment in which the Caribou excelled!

Graeme said...

Sorry for the OT comment but you might be interested in what looks like an attempt to leak patriot missiles to China

nico said...

to Graeme:

Saw that report a few hours ago. Not sure it is necessarily China. Why would they snatch 60 Patriot missiles? You only need 1 or 2 to take apart and study. The cargo ship was supposed to stop in SKorea from what I have read. SK operates Patriot batteries, it would make sense for them to acquire that many. We need to know what build/year these missiles are.

I bet someone in Germany is sweating bullets though.I mean, you maybe can cook the books for 1 or 2 but even that is a stretch but 60??? Someone has some serious explaining to do.

Bonza said...


Could you please provide a list of which airfields ADF has ever needed to land on, in PNG or elsewhere in the "Archipelago" to our North that the C-130 and C-27J are unsuitable for?

Could you also expand on the effect that the VTOL capable CH-47D/F and MRH-90 / S-70B9 fleet has on operations in that Archipelago" to our north bearing in mind of course, that the last time we conducted actual war fighting in that area, the helicopter as a military capability wasn't even invented?

Could you then explain how the current (approved) ADF tactical air transport capability (12x C-130J, 8x C-130H, 10x C-27J, 7x CH-47F, 46x MRH-90) is insufficient to meet our likely war fighting requirements in that TAOR? Could you explain what these warfighting requirements are (assuming that warfighting presents the most difficult operational environment in which these assets will operate)?

Such should be explained of course in terms of aircraft sortie rates, reliability and availability of the particular assets in question, their likely vulnerability to opposing military capability, their potential to add to force protection measures (or alternatively the impact they will have on existing force protection capability) in a war-fighting scenario, our land based military operations "tempo" in such a conflict and any other requirements that the ADF might need to address before we decide on which particular platform is MORE suitable than the current fleet?

Obviously such a baseline requirement (ie: the warfighting scenario) will be loaded with assumptions (because this is all theoretical after all) so would you mind outlining the assumptions you've made as well, why you think they are reasonable assumptions (if you actually believe that) and how you came to generate them?

Once all that (and far more, but that will do for now) is done, then we can perhaps start listing requirements to address these issues?

Then we can look at manufacturer's data, that shows how a particular platform might begin to address these requirements.

This is what I referred to earlier about "people finding out" the things we need to know before we can even consider assumptions...

It's all well and good to present asset "wishlists". The "I spoke to a guy, who spoke to a guy, who says this..." type of capability argument however, that you are so obviously fond of presenting, rarely stands up to the kind of close scrutiny that occurs when you propose to spend several hundred million dollars of our scant national treasure.

I find it rather illuminating that, that is all you seem to be able to provide...

ELP said...

"This is what I referred to earlier about "people finding out" the things we need to know before we can even consider assumptions..."


Good words for the entrenched Defence bureaucracy to live by.

Perplexed said...

Lieutenant-Colonel Bonza (chief apologist), all I can say is, breathtaking.

It is a pity that misguided souls like yourself, fail to study history, nor listen to those that actually might know something.

Going on a recent numerous incorrect decisions and stuff ups made by defence regarding equipment over the last decade, I doubt that the decisions they are making are any more correct.

We have for example, the DMO with a staff of 7500 and growing, and a budget of 1.3 billion a year making disastrous mistake after disastrous mistake costing billions.

I would reiterate the musings of bushranger 71.

Anonymous said...


Let go of the 70's people.. first the pig and the huey and now the bou..

I know people who have flown the caribou. There were issues greater than the engines.

The C-27 is far more capable in 98% of situations than the Bou. Far more survivable. Far more reliable. Far more load. Far more range. Far more speed. The only thing it gives up is the ability to land on a certain small percentage of strips in the highlands. It will however give us the ability to use a light transport aircraft in the current actual AO and a lot of other AO's that the Bou would never go.

Bushranger 71 said...

Hello Bonza.

There are numerous airfields around the archipelago limited to one approach/take-off direction with soft pavement and minimal (if any) manoeuvring area. Pavement concessions were not always available for types larger/heavier than Caribou.

Insurrection/insurgent activity is not necessarily going to occur near airfields that might suit the ADF and SRT has to operate in direct support near scenes of action. If you bother to engage with the transport operators on Military Aircrew threads on the PPRuNe website, then I am sure your operational awareness can be broadened.

You obviously have little awareness of just what Australia did militarily throughout the northern archipelago in post-WW2 years before and after the introduction of helicopters. The Chinook of course has very useful but also costly capabilities and the complex medium lift MRH90 will be less lift capable but expensive to operate and maintain in remote environments, particularly the numbers of people and equipment required to keep the things operating. DoD is forsaking the Seahawk and other utility helo capability which is precisely the level of direct support most valuable throughout the archipelago, as was proven from the 1960s onwards.

It says little for your military appreciation if you require explanation of what war-fighting requirements would be in the archipelago where we supported the Pacific Island Regiments for decades. Any scenario in those environs would certainly differ from the patrolling from garrisons in the bare terrain Iraq or Afghanistan scenarios and, despite the time lapse, be more akin to military methods employed in the Vietnam environment. And jungle war-fighting differs markedly from trundling around the Northern Territory playing Rommel(in the dry season).

You are certainly coming across as an Army brainwashed theorist concerning military aviation. For decades, the Australian Army have tried to drive aircraft purchases based on their rigid thinking of how the US Army operates rather than evaluate aircraft types on performance and cost-effectiveness. The more versatile CH-53 would have given the Australian military much more flexibility than the Chinook for example and the Huey II at cost of around $2million would leave anything else for dead in terms of hot and high performance and ease of operability in the demanding archipelago. The Army shed both recce and gunship capabilities for a so-called attack helo which can do neither function adequately, which could be valuable roles in say PNG.

Bonza; please do not try and bombard me with DoD crap as I have the operational background to support my judgements which you do not seem to possess. Another related post follows.

Bushranger 71 said...

This is a repeat of a post in another forum.

Defence White Paper 2009 says: The ADF's Primary Operational Environment - "Our strategic interests and defence posture suggest a primary focus for the ADF on tasks in our geographical vicinity. To guide defence planning, the Government has decided that the ADF's primary operational environment extends from the eastern Indian Ocean to the island states of Polynesia, and from the equator to the Southern Ocean..." Ergo, the whole AO for the ADF has not shifted, although some seem to be dreaming about trundling largish expeditionary forces around to fight more wars in faraway places.

Considering the pretty wobbly political scenarios among island States throughout the SW Pacific (PNG for example), it seems more likely than not that Australian intervention might be requested at some stage to help quell insurrection/insurgency.

The traditional military short range transport (SRT) function has not changed, this generally being to provide cost-effective intra-theatre direct support; and neither has the harsh and difficult near neighbourhood operating environment altered. Sure the Chinook can do better is some respects; but generally speaking not always cost-effectively. SRT elements are usually logically based within an AO so longish range utilisation is not very relevant once in situ.

Regarding SRT helos, when the MRH90 (and Tiger) finally get into service, the ADF will soon realise the compound overhead costs of trying to operate them in remote environments and rue the path being taken with so-called helo fleet rationalisation. Operating costs for the ADF are going to soar prodigiously over the next few years and the huge reckless spend on defence will have to begin shrinking pretty soon.

The Caribou performed admirably in PNG and an enhanced turbo version would excel. I would wager that breed will emerge elsewhere in the world, as for the Dakota/BT-67. I think many are ignoring the lessons of 60 plus years of military air operations in the nearby challenging wet tropics environs since WW2.

Perplexed said...

Anon says, "I know people who have flown the caribou. There were issues greater than the engine"
Fascinated, what are they?
Apart from Angus?
And anyway, who said that any of these platforms adressed all sceanarios, apart form the aplolgists.

Perplexed said...

Sorry typos.

Bonza said...

Do you actually believe this stuff B71? It's rather hard to tell mate.

The Kiowa is a better reconaissance helicopter than the Tiger? Okay...

Sure... Those handheld binos that represent the ONLY recce capability on an Australia OH-58 can be carried in the Tiger too, you know...

The 6 UH-1H gunships we used to have, armed with nothing more than 7.62mm guns and up to 14x 70mm FFAR all fired over open sights, represents a better "gunship" capability than a Tiger? Yeah, clearly. Hence it's remarkable popularity compared to twin seat armed helicopters...

Huey II's? I know your mate works for Bell but there is no point pretending it's anywhere near as capable as even it's Bell stablemate, the UH-1Y let alone the bigger helicopters AAAVN has long favoured.

Yes you're an ex Huey pilot. I get it. I get also you can't let go of that idea either. That doesn't mean that they are perfect nor that they should not be replaced by better aircraft.

The rest? Laughable. I wasn't expecting any more insight than a cut and paste job of previous nonsense.

Good luck with those submissions to NACC and the rest of it. I'm sure we can get everything turned around for our future capability if only we could just go back to operating 48 year old helicopters, 47 year old Caribous and 40 year old F-111's...

Perplexed said...

Lieutenant-Colonel Bonza, (apologist).
In the context of the conflicts in which the Australian Defence Force is involved, bushranger is probably correct. Perhaps the Kiowa needs to be armed a little differently and probably reengined, along the lines of the comparable American product. Why would you throw away an airframe that has many many years left in it. Look at what the Americans are proposing with theirs.
The Tiger was developed for the potential conflict with the Soviet army running over Eastern Europe. Hardly necessary in the scrub surrounding Australia and Southeast Asia. A lot of money to shoot up a few people carrying some outdated rifle in the scrub, if it is serviceable.
No doubt, advanced avionics and infrared et cetera are needed in any aircraft involved in reconnaissance, and the last time I looked these items are easily installed in any platform.
In addition these beasts , the Tiger, are costing over $100 million each, and cost a fortune to maintain and keep in service. Hardly conducive to forward basing and repairs. Just look at the French experience in Afghanistan. Hate to be the first person to prang one.
With regards to the Iroquois, nobody including bushranger 71 has ever advised that that it is the only solution. The point is, these are items that we already own and are perfectly usable, affordable and relevant even with today's conflicts, especially if upgraded to the Huey 2 specification. Thousands of hours of affordable, reliable operation. Look mum no composite's.

Again, relevant avionics and sighting systems can be fitted to everything including your mums Cessna.
Yes new platforms are needed, but please let us listen to those who know something, and not those who subscribe to groupthink, in the belief that technology solves everything. You would be amazed that moisture and dust actually stuffs electronics from time to time. Really.
With regards to Caribous, you once again show your total ignorance in relation to airframe and aircraft maintenance. I wonder how the B-52’s have lasted so long. The things that go wrong in older aircraft are, engines, avionics, electrical cabling and hydraulics. Easily replaceable and upgradable. Airframes involve only tin bashing, and basic metalwork. If you need any further help I will elaborate.
With regards to the F111, please refer to the work of the DSTO, and other experts, including those who used to maintain the airframe with regards to its ultimate life. Must be a bit upsetting, but they do not agree with your ridiculous remarks.

Must really upset you, but you do not have your little red pencil, and cannot stop the thread and throw people off the site.

Bushranger 71 said...

Boy Bonza; you are really showing your colours. Having worked in the 'grey sponge', I am aware of how it once functioned which even then was disturbing; but if your apparent lack of knowledge on various topics is indicative of the current state of analysis within DoD, then the Senate Committee was spot on decreeing the outfit 'dysfunctional'.

As Perplexed implies, the Kiowa should have been progressively optimised for the armed scout role. The goal of Project Air 87 to replace Kiowa visual recce and Iroquois gunship capabilities was ridiculous because a tank-busting attack helicopter cannot adequately perform either role. Kiowa, Iroquois, Blackhawk, Seahawk, Chinook are all enhanceable through ongoing manufacturer programs and a wide range of type certified systems are adaptable. Consider for instance the systems installed on the US Army DAP Blackhawk.

This is an extract from a comprehensive US Army study of Vietnam War operations:

‘The range and killing power of the minigun was limited and though the 70 millimetre rockets had much more reach and punch, they were inaccurate and had to generally be fired in salvos to blanket a target… While many (US Army) gunship crews liked the speed, agility and hard-to-hit slender lines of the Cobra, there was another faction that preferred the old Huey gunships since the door gunners not only provided additional eyes and ears but could lay down suppressive fire to the rear of the helicopter…The debate between the two factions went on through the war.’

The Hueycobra was introduced in Vietnam early 1968 and the RAAF Bushranger gunship in April 1969. 271 Hueycobras were lost during that campaign.

The unique Hotel model Iroquois Bushranger gunship carried 9,600 rounds for twin miniguns, 3,000 rounds for 4 doorguns, 14 x 17 pound warhead rockets and could be fully refuelled and rearmed in just 10 minutes. The fixed forward firing arrangement for miniguns and rockets enabled full operation of weapons systems by either pilot via swing down reflector gunsights which we also used at night – your reference to open sights is absurd as that is what you had on your rifle.

A Huey II Bushranger version (with full fuel and 4 crew) could substitute 2 NC621 low recoil 20mm cannon pods with 500 rounds of HE in lieu of rockets with about 600 pound payload availability for FLIR, EOTS, defensive suites or whatever. This enhanced configuration would take only 15 minutes to refuel and rearm. A Huey II Bushranger could hover fully armed in ground effect at around 12,000 feet AMSL versus a much more limited payload for the Tiger at about 6,000 feet in Afghanistan. The H2 Bushranger would also have essential multiple gun redundancy.

This extract from The Bushranger Story:

'The simplicity of the Bushranger weapons system was a key feature. Miniguns needed frequent replacement parts due to high usage wear, but the overall system only required minimal maintenance and was well-suited to operations under adverse field conditions and could be fully re-armed by aircrew. The multi-role concept enabled conversion of a modified aircraft from utility helo to gunship within about 90 minutes including weapon system harmonisation. Conversely, gunship to utility configuration took only 30 minutes with the gunsights remaining permanently fitted to a modified aircraft. These characteristics exemplified flexibility, versatility and economy of effort which are long recognised principles for conduct of warfare.'

I should add the project ultimately only cost the Australian Government A$94,000 for hardware, although unit members paid for cartons of beer during project development which we traded for components as demand for the bits of kit by US Army units was strong.

Finally, I have no 'mate' working for Bell. A former Army Aviation aviator who represents them provided me with publicly available info on request. Standby for a serve on other issues.

Bushranger 71 said...

The exclamation at start of my previous bit was intended as 'Oh boy, Bonza' and no slight intended.

Perplexed has covered older platform considerations very well; but let's expand on that regarding fixed wing SRT, as a long debate on that topic has been ongoing in other forums.

The BT-67 and Turbo-Caribou have abundant systems and cockpit enhancement options at additional modest cost, depending on what is desired for particular roles . For example, the BT-67 enlarged cargo doors and in-floor freight systems plus other modernised features are clearly illustrated at this site: . See also the Special Operations options, including a gunship.

If you are able to comprehend all the info on that site Bonza and this one for the Turbo-Caribou:; the outstanding cost-effective performance of both types is revealed. The Turbo-'Dak' has a higher payload capacity over long-range than the Turbo-'Bou with great short field capabilities for both types, but the STOL capability of the Turbo-Caribou is just amazing.

An asinine comment was made in another forum stating that older refurbished/enhanced platforms are only being used by 'second-rate' Air Forces. Well; such fixed and rotary wing airframes are being operated in some of the harshest operating environs in the world, not unlike Australia's near neighbourhood. And the USAF sees merit in the BT-67, although how many operated not known.

Like the Huey II, a big benefit of these types is simplicity of maintenance in harsh remote operating areas. 1 or 2 cross-trained flight fitters with toolboxes and a few spares can keep them operating, The RAAF often deployed about 4 Iroquois with only 5 or so maintenance personnel needed. Compare that with the huge support tail required for 8 Apache in Afghanistan, as outlined in the book of same title.

Outsourced contractor maintenance has greatly diminished military capacity of the ADF, limiting aircraft availability for operations at times and inhibiting the ability to deploy quickly to remote combat areas. DoD thinking seems to be hanging much on basing intra-theatre support elements on LPD aircraft carriers which will be a hugely costly and sluggish reaction concept of operations beset with lots of support penalties. Unless the ADF moves back toward some more easily deployable and maintainable cost-effective platforms, military capacity will continue to shrink. As Major General Jim Molan has publicly stated: 'The general public would be alarmed to learn just what the ADF cannot do.'

Just to refresh you Bonza on monetary value, one billion dollars is a vast amount of money best demonstrated by converting dollars to seconds:

$1million in seconds = 11.57 Days, but $1billion in seconds = 31.71 YEARS

In multiple respects, DoD is recklessly squandering billions of taxpayer dollars because it is focused primarily on subsidising largely foreign-parented defence industry via offset deals involving expensive complex hardware. Need to maintain a continuous adequate and credible level of military preparedness is being ignored, although there are multiple platform optimisation options available enabling cost-effective capabilities. You really lack credibility Bonza in your attempts to support flawed Defence policy.

Ely said...

BR 71,
I suspect that Bonza has you where he wants you in this discussion. And that is conducting theoretical and retrospective suitability analyses and system comparisons based on (in large measure) your experience and professional judgement. This seems to me to be a fruitless exercise as any conclusion you are likely to propose will be subject to his rationalising, selective and often not well informed counterarguments which discuss platform or subsystem options which were not the subject of adequate Analyses of Alternatives in the first place (see p121 of “The Pentagon Labrynth” I linked to you some time back).
I don’t know if it will help you but to give me a bit of solace in these sorts of situations I took a number of propositions from a book titled “The Rules of the Game” It discusses a similar malaise to our own in the context of the RN in the early part of the 20th century. Here are a small selection that seem appropriate to this point in the discussion and I hasten to add this is not our only problem:
• In times of peace, empirical experience fades and rationalist theory takes its place.
• The advent of new technology assists the discrediting of previous empirical doctrine*.
• The purveyors of new technology will be the most evangelising rationalists.
• Rationalism, unlike empiricism, tends to assume an accretion of vested interests.

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi Ely; thank you for more well-considered stuff.

I was fortunate to have served mainly in an era when the armed forces were more independent and properly subject to closer political oversight. There was then a pretty strong nucleus of good quality leaders with invaluable combat experience who were mostly inclined to listen to the opinions of those at the operating level.

I was not rank or career conscious and a disciple of the John Boyd approach to getting things done in the military. But post-Tange Reorganisation of Defence and creation of a unified ADF in 1974, I could foresee the downstream consequences of Public Service domination as the calibre of military leadership became diluted largely due to a very wasteful age/rank related retirement scheme. I fought for some years to better service prospects for lower ranks and for operating facilities improvements for units. I made some headway in this regard while still serving, but only managed to force implementation of an Airman Aircrew scheme by causing political embarrassment in the media after I had left the Air Force in 1978. Some may consider me rebellious, but a dedicated warrior would be kinder.

So you reckon Bonza may have me where he wants me; NOT BLOODY LIKELY! He and other DoD stooges in multiple forums keep trying to snow criticism of politicians, the Public Service and military chiefs for their abject failure to maintain continuous adequate and credible combat readiness. They are more or less criminally squandering taxpayer dollars on ill-conceived projects largely of benefit to those connected with the defence 'gravy train'. Alarmingly from my warrior perspective, there seems very little operational acumen exhibited by Defence propagandists in recent years and they all seem imbued with political correctness.

But the tide has begun to turn in recent months with segments of the media now becoming much more questioning of the DoD scenario and decisions by former military leaders. Now a Senate Committee has acknowledged the dysfunctional nature of the Defence organisation, a window is opening to pile on the pressure to force accountability for deteriorating military capacity and continuing reckless profligate spending. A broader public awareness is emerging and must be further stoked. Political embarrassment almost always works in forcing address of serious issues and I foresee Year 2012 bringing much closer scrutiny of DoD in Australia.

Thank you once again for your valuable views and keep up your good work in forums.

Perp;exed said...

Bushranger you are correct.
Poor Bonza.

Ely said...

BR 71,
Thanks for your,in the main, positive and optimistic response. My military experience I suspect is not hugely different from yours and the passing parade has been and continues immensely interesting. And like you I am an enthusiast.
I agree with your contention that there is an increasing awareness of our problems. But I do not yet see an answer or useful discussion toward an answer to the “so what?” and "how do we get well?" questions. The next of now many audits and reviews into the issues do not yet start with a “Howgozit” of earlier findings and call relevant authorities to account for progrees-or lack thereof. The occasionally lurid press, as well as it is doing at the illuminating task, is rarely objective and is not helping things much or fortifying our operators’ confidence. Politicians? Little evidence as yet. But to be fair, I suspect to do any good it will require from the Government something akin to Sun Tzu’s method of teaching the Emperor’s concubines close-order drill.
As an off-the-wall thought, I was recently introduced to the concept of “Singularity”. And the founder - or one of the founders of the concept, a John Von Neumann’s definition of the Singularity was that Singularity is the moment beyond which "technological progress will become incomprehensively rapid and complicated." ie (my words and admittedly workmanlike) the graph of performance v/v time “goes vertical”. I suggest that we are approaching Singularity in terms of cost v/v capability in ADF's budgetary matters. I argue we reached this point with Seasprite @ roughly AUD 1.4 bn for no capability and I suspect a similar case could be made for Collins (I am not suggesting Collins do not provide any capability. But I do propose that the configuration(s) and performance(s) of the six platforms are uncertain and unsustainably costly). I think that a similar case could be reasonably made for a number of our procurement and support activities. The point is that industry and perhaps Government appears satisfied with this sort of result. And why wouldn’t they be? I suspect that this is one of the cores of the problem.

Perplexed said...

How simple.

Bushranger 71 said...

Hi again Ely; you have raised a very good point.

In the Whitlam era and around ADF creation in 1974, Senator Jo Vallentine made a statement in the Parliament something like: 'If we civilianise Defence as much possible, ultimately there will be no need for offensive capabilities.' With Public Service control of the military then cemented, growth of the Defence bureaucracy in Canberra became somewhat exponential and the 'Peacenik' syndrome has since become deeply embedded in the DoD psyche with support of now largely foreign-parented defence industry having become the primary plank of defence policy in lieu of adequate and credible combat readiness. What we now see from both of the major political parties is ongoing support for expansion of defence industry facilities around the nation for political and mostly unproductive job creation purposes. Also, increased emphasis in DoD public statements regarding the applicability of new hardware acquisitions for non-military purposes.

The Howard Government's efforts re defence were instrumental in generating multiple flawed projects; but do they really care having achieved their political goals of the time? The apparent complicity of Service Chiefs in poor hardware decisions and their unwillingness to fall on their swords if necessary to maintain continual adequate military preparedness also reflects how politically correct the ADF has become, with any inkling of non-conformism threatened with career ending sanction. Witness also the large number of former politicians, Public Servants and military leaders now in the employ of major arms manufacturers and/or involved in high profile lobbying organisations to influence defence industry related decisions. Many are doing very nicely financially from riding the Defence 'gravy train'.

Those who dare to try and confront this huge juggernaut are of course fighting an uphill battle. Just getting any submissions to politicians unadulterated by the bureaucracy is problematic; likewise having views published in a media where input is dominated by influential people and increasingly subject to political interference. But the scope of mis-managment within the Defence realm is now having serious economic impacts and downstream budgetary pressures will likely cause some back peddling regarding military capabilities planning. About the best people at our level can do is keep on raising matters of concern in multiple forums hoping that will generate increased awareness among the public at large and cause more rigorous questioning of politicians. 'Tis most important that we boost our efforts.

Perplexed said...

Just for you Bonza(Apologist)