Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another Australian Defence Helicopter Needs Discussion Thread

For some interesting discussion, let us start up the topic again of a helicopter roadmap for the ADF. Something that might make sense for the next defence white paper but yet could be delivered inside of a few years.

We can start with Raytheon's consideration of the AIR9000 helicopter training requirement.

..."the large cockpit of the Bell 429 is capable of handling the full range of pilot candidates with the most spacious and useful rear cabin in its class."

DMO is even open for suggestions on numbers.


Anonymous said...

Can someone explain, is this being touted as the abinitio machine, or is their something else at the start?

Bonza said...

Defence pilots undertake ab initio training at ADF Basic Flying Training School at Tamworth in New South Wales. This is all ADF pilot's basic flight training and includes initial fixed wing training on CT-4B's and CAP-10 trainers and synthetic trainers.

From there RAAF and RAN pilots go to No.2 Flying Training School at Pearce in Western Australia where they train on PC-9's.

From there RAN aviators go to HMAS Albatross (Nowra New South Wales) and undertake helicopter conversion training with 723 Squadron on Squirrel helicopters, prior to being assigned to one of the fleet units and flying Seahawks or MRH-90's.

The Bell 429 has been submitted for ADF's HATS - Helicopter Air Training System.

This project is looking to acquire a common type to replace Navy's Squirrel helicopters and Army's Kiowa helicopters, which are used to provide helicopter conversion training.

The Bell 429 is competing against the Eurocopter EC-135 and the Agusta A109 for this contract.

Army also has a (currently) un-approved requirement for a light utility helicopter capability, that is would like to base on the same platform as chosen for HATS. Because of this the A109 and Bell 429 are the current favourites for the contract, with the EC-135 given a lesser chance, though all 3 have served within ADF in recent years.

Army used several EC-135's in Darwin which Australian Aerospace provided free of charge, due to delays with the Tiger project.

AW109's and now Bell 429's have also served with RAN due to MRH-90 delays.

The other issue facing EC-135 is it's made by Eurocopter, the company that is ultimately responsible for the delays in the Tiger and MRH-90 projects. It's level of support was seen within Government and ADF ranks recently, when the MH-60R Romeo was chosen for Navy...

aleoedic ialtife

Bushranger 71 said...

Thank you Bonza for some good start-up material for what could become a worthwhile debate like has ensued pretty comprehensively in another worldwide forum over the past few years. Perhaps best done in segments as a fair bit of territory to be covered. 'Tis a pity that Eric does not have means for insertion of imagery by contributors, from Photobucket or wherever, as that would help crystallize some aspects; nevertheless, let's joust.

But first; a bit of a conduit from Eric's 'strategic' thread, which I feel is pertinent to the entire spectrum of Australian defence planning and hardware acquisition strategy. Successive Australian governments over the past decade have endorsed largely foreign-parented defence industry support as the central plank of defence policy, NOT adequate and credible military preparedness. The Howard Government in particular ordained continuous increases in defence spending out to 2030 toward creation of a mythical Force 2030 structure. This was based on entirely unrealistic expectations of worldwide economic growth into the foreseeable future. 'Me tooism' was the mantra in the lead-up to Election 2007 so Rudd & Co. endorsed endorsed ridiculously ambitious defence expenditure although signs were already emerging of potential world economic downturn. Later, MinDef Fitzgibbon sensibly pulled defence outlay planning back to the 4 year forward estimates process, but that was ultimately reverted to 10 years by Combet resulting from defence industry pressure.

It is now abundantly clear to most in Australia, except perhaps many in Canberra, that the world is facing prolonged economic stagnation and there are escalating national imperatives arising within Australia of greater political significance than defence spending. It is an odds on bet that the mining boom will slump within a couple of years and the anticipated government income therefrom will not be realised.

There is barely any aspect of Australian defence acquisiton planning that was not either ill-conceived or has become a costly shambles since the last reign of the Howard Government. What is needed now is some positive political leadership to at least freeze all future acquisition planning pending objective analysis of where economies can be made and military capability gaps remediated.

Enough of the big picture background, so let's begin review of the ADF Helicopter Strategic Master Plan (now retitled), perhaps with discussion of helo training in a following post.

Have a good ANZAC Day.

Anonymous said...

My comment regarding abinitio was with regards to helicopter training, not basic flying at Tamworth.
Seems like an expensive machine with expensive costs for such basic training.
Surely something like EC120 of 407 would be more suited?
Then followed by the 429?

Anonymous said...

Bushranger, you would appear to be on the right track.
A little different to Huey 2, but on the same track.

Ely said...

By Ely,
I am looking forward to this discussion. And that is a very important question you ask Anon of 25Apr @ 10:04 I hope that somebody is prepared to answer you.The AS350B did us proud in its day for lead-in rotary and basic embarked work.(and contrary to what the RAN history site tells us they were experiencing airframe cracking before they went to sea.)The AS350 B3 is approximately a little over half the commercial unit cost of the contenders.
There is a relevant and wise piece (IMHO) p78 of AUSAV (APR)by Dr Alan Stephens.We must not get this wrong. I am not sure that the training of embarked operators including the all-important maintenance and engineering elements is that well understood at the corporate level of ADF.Is full D/N clearance to operate while embarked in our air capable ships a requirement of the HATS system?

Anonymous said...

All fair points Bushranger, with the possible exception that even when in austere budget environments, there's nothing necessarily wrong with govt pursuing a largely foreign-parented defence industry support policy, which in itself is truly not so relevant as to one's military preparedness being cost-effective, adequate and credible or not.

Preparedness cares not of the origin of the equipment, just if it's adequate and credible. Two separate things.

That being said, absolutely it could be argued as being in Australia's best sovereign military and industrial interests to embark on a long-term goal to adapt higher domestic content (of adequate and credible quality) into the inventory.

Anonymous said...

Intresting Anon, however it has not happened on current evidence.
Eg, how much maintenace of the SH is done here?

Anonymous said...

Anon, yes the initial helicopter training will be done on the HATS helicopter, how the defence won't own these helicopters.

They are to be provided by the contracter chosenunder a private financing initiative. It is defence who will pay the contractor true, but with synthetic devices as well as the HATS helo, defence feels this is adequate for initial training.

If the Army LUH capability proposal is approved, Defence will own those helicopters.

24 LUH helos is the proposal I have heard, but as stated it's unapproved so far.

Bonza said...

All Super Hornet training is done in Australia.

Bonza said...

All Super Hornet maintenance is done here too (it's what I meant earlier).


Anonymous said...

Re SH, apparently, they change the tires,give it an oil change and all LRU goes back to Boeing.
How is maintence done here?

Anonymous said...

Again, it's irrelevant if the defence policy plank is foreign-parented based -- at least in the medium term -- as long as it is the proper equipment and priced under a cost-effective contract.

Who cares if it's outsourced to a foreign corporation... as long as much of the support is actually done in country (not outside country) and while the outsourced contractor itself is probably outsourcing at least some of the work back to entities within country!

Over the longer term though, sure, change your defence policy and gradually develop your indigenous industries in a sustainable manner.

Just don't pull your hair out about current policy or yesterday's in the meanwhile. Write it off to sunk costs.

Bushranger 71 said...

This a test post and just advising am having difficulty getting a longer post up re helo training. Hopefully more to follow soon.

Bonza said...

Re: Super Hornet, ah yeah, that's why Boeing Australia applied for and received Authorised Engineering Organisation status for the Super Hornet from RAAF, why RAAF invested in the F414 engine test cell at Amberley, a new paint and LO re-application facility and so on, cause all they do is fuel the jets up and put air in the tyres...

In reality, RAAF conducts operational level maintenance on the Super Hornet and BDA conducts up to intermediate level maintenance. Deep servicing isn't due for some years yet and a decision on this process hasn't yet been made. It will probably depend on how long Australia intends to keep the Super Hornets. If they stay long term they will do deep servicing here etc.

In addition to BDA, Tasman Engineering is conducting in-country operational, intermediate and deep maintenance of the F414 engines.

Raytheon are involved locally in support of the radar, targetting pod, EW system and most of the major weapon systems and training devices.

In short, nothing much has changed on the ground in support of the aircraft and a lot of the ex-F-111 support staff are now Super Hornet support staff.

Sorry to disappoint.

Anonymous said...

Bonza, exactly what I said.
Air in the tyres and change the oil,lRU back to Boeing.
And , wow paint the thing.
Raytheon to test and change fuses?
There is a test cell for engines of course.
However there will be no heavy maintenence done on anything for years.
And to compare that with the skills and maintenence done on the F111 is incorrect.
There a few if any requirements for artisans.

Bushranger 71 said...

Am still endeavouring to rejoin this debate but not having any success lodging reasonable size posts.

Anonymous said...

Bushranger, split it into multiple parts.

Bushranger 71 said...

Am still investigating my problem and have considered your suggestion Anonymous; but I feel it necessary to be able to make posts of around 600 words or 4,000 characters to adequately logically argue particular points. That is a reasonable content limit applicable in many forums. Very brief inputs on blogs usually only lead to counter-productive sparring rather than worthwhile debate. Call me old-fashioned if you wish, but now a bit hard to change a mental process developed over about 75 years of lifetime experience.

Anonymous said...

"DMO is even open for suggestions on numbers. "
DMO can count?

Market Research said...

Your blog is good source of information as well as helpful for my Australian Defense Industry Research and Development.