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  • Europe

    Netherlands to Boost Defence Spending

    The Dutch government has decided to increase the Netherlands' defence spending, reversing 24 years of declining defence expenditure.

    Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said on 16 September that the funds would be used generally to "enhance the clout" of the armed forces.

    Under the plans, defence spending is set to rise by EUR50 million (USD65 million) in 2015 to EUR7.3 billion, with further rises of EUR150 million in 2016 and EUR100 million in the following years.

    The Netherlands are to purchase three additional Chinooks and re-commission several AS532 Cougars

    The Netherlands Armed Forces have seen their inventories depleted by recent operations, such as those in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan (2006-2010), and are in need of replenishment. In August it was announced the Raytheon Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries were to be withdrawn from Turkey in January 2015, because of a looming shortage of trained personnel, among other things,.

    Apart from the acquisition of general items such as missiles, ammunition, and spare parts, the Netherlands plans to spend the increase in funding on improving cyber, networking, and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) response structures.

    Hennis-Plasschaert also announced the country would buy additional military equipment with the funding.

    Included on its shopping list are 20 Thales Australia Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, with a specific view to future operations by the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. Helicopter-capabilities are to be enhanced with the planned order for three more Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy transport helicopters. These have been much in demand in international missions such as the Dutch contribution to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), where the first of three Dutch Chinooks arrived on 9 September in the capital Bamako.

    As well, an unspecified number of Eurocopter AS532U2 Cougar medium transport helicopters will be taken into service again on top of the eight remaining in service. These measures have also been driven by the ongoing setbacks with the NHIndustries NH90 helicopters the Defence Helicopter Command is confronted with, such as delayed deliveries and technical problems such as corrosion.

    It was also announced that an unspecified number of the newest generation of tactical unmanned ISR systems would be bought. No specific type was mentioned but IHS Jane's understands the armed forces are interested in acquiring more of the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle systems, a small number of which was ordered in 2012. Experience with these unmanned systems was built up, among other army employments, flying from landing platform docks in support of anti-piracy operations around Somalia.

  • #2
    German Lynx Fleet Grounded

    Germany's fleet of Sea Lynx helicopters have been grounded in a precautionary measure in the wake of the discovery of cracks on the Lynx's tailboom.

    The report comes as a response after Navy helicopter flights were suspended when the crew aboard the Luebeck frigate discovered a 20-centimeter crack in the tail of a Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopter, according to the document. Similar defects were later found on other Lynx aircraft.

    Video: German Navy Lynx during a SAR demonstration in Bremerhaven

    On August 7, helicopter flights were resumed. However, all 22 Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopters remain grounded and are undergoing further maintenance checks lasting until next year, according to the document. As a result, the fleet’s flying hours are being reduced by 75 percent.

    Furthermore, two Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopters were unable to land on the Luebeck on September 18 due to ongoing maintenance. They were supposed to take part in the EU’s Operation Atalanta, which is aimed at fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia.

    Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopters, in service since 1981, make up half of Germany’s rotorcraft fleet, Sueddeutsche Zeitung pointed out. Sea King helicopters make up the rest.


    • #3

      Aeronautica Militare Retires Legendary Pelican HH-3F

      The Italian Air Force has retired its AgustaSikorsky HH-3F Pelican after 37 years of active service. The helicopter is being replaced by the AgustaWestland HH-139A.

      The Agusta-built Pelicans, which have become an iconic symbol of Italy's highly effective SAR-force, were retired at a ceremony which took place at Pratica di Mare Airport, near Rome, Italy, in the presence of the Commander of the Air Staff, Gen. Pasquale Preziosa. The AS HH-3F Pelicans are retiring after 37 years of active service having flown in excess o 185,000 hours and having saved more than 7,000 saved lives in and around Italy as well as internationally.

      The HH-3F is a variant of the Sikorsky S-61R produced by Agusta and was in service with the 15° Stormo (Wing). It will be replaced by the smaller HH-139A, a military version of Agusta's civilian 139 aircraft. An initial batch of 10 HH-139's has been received by 15° Stormo.

      Final Flight: HH-3F 'Pelican' HH-3F MM81337 ​makes the last ever flight for the Italian Air Force

      The HH-139A is equipped with military-grade heavy-duty landing gear, a secure communications suite, integrated defensive aids suite, hoist, search light, wire cutters, nose mounted FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red), cargo hook, loudspeaker system and emergency floatation gear. The aircraft will also be conducting Combat SAR missions in place of the venerable AB-212 and HH-3F.

      The final flight of the Pelican was conducted by HH-3F MM81337 “15-25″ (shown in the images) and taken at Pratica di Mare on 26th September by Giovanni Maduli.

      The HH-3F saved more than 7,000 lives during its service with Italy's Aeronautica Militare

      HH-3F and HH-139A at Pratica di Mare on 26th September

      The iconic 'Pelican' is being replaced by the smaller HH-139A​


      • #4

        Restructuring Within Aeronautica Militare

        The Italian Air Force is streamlining its special operations and rescue operations, trimming costs as new aircraft come into service, and reflecting what officials describe as a shift in the type of mission they are handling in the 21st century.

        On Sept. 22, the Air Force’s 1st Brigade for Special Operations moved into new premises at Cervia Air Base on Italy’s Adriatic coast, part of an enlargement of the brigade that saw it take command of the 15th Wing already based at Cervia, which undertakes combat search-and-rescue missions.

        Three wings already grouped under the brigade’s command, which are spread around Italy, are set to partly shift personnel and machinery to Cervia.

        The Italian Air Force will receive additional AW101 helicopters for search-and-rescue and special operations missions

        “We need to be ready and flexible enough for a whole range of operations,” said Gen. Francesco Agresti, the brigade’s new commander. “We’ve got the experience, we just need to configure it better.”

        “You have to move in hours, you don’t know where, when or how,” said Gen. Maurizio Lodovisi, head of the Air Force’s Operational Forces Command.

        Lodovisi cited the NATO operation in Libya and the continuing instability there as an example. “Libya has shown us we need to be ready to recover pilots and extract civilians,” he said. “This move will give us a huge operational benefit.”

        The 1st Brigade oversees the Air Force’s 16th Wing, which is based in southern Italy and has provided force protection for Italy’s air base at Herat in Afghanistan. Also part of the brigade is the 17th Special Operations Wing, which is based at Furbara in central Italy and has operated in Afghanistan. The brigade also oversees the 9th Wing from southern Italy, which operates the AB212 helicopter in support of special operations.

        Agresti said components of the wings would gradually relocate to Cervia.

        The new addition to the brigade, the 15th Wing, has flown the HH3F helicopter for combat search and rescue and will receive its replacement: the AW101 for special ops and rescue missions. Fifteen have been ordered, with the first due to arrive this year. The 15th Wing also flies 12 AW139 helicopters on rescue missions in Italy.

        For Lodovisi, the move means greater efficiencies but also savings. “This is part of a heavy restructuring,” he said. “We are not magicians and we must make sacrifices.”

        Despite large cuts to defense spending in recent years, the Air Force is about to receive two new aircraft for special operations use, which officials said the newly beefed-up brigade would be better placed to manage. Apart from the AW101, the service is acquiring the Praetorian C-27J gunship. Rather than a new acquisition, the program adds a modular function to Air Force C-27Js, allowing conversion from tactical transport to gunship and vice versa.

        Another argument behind the new set-up is creating synergies between combat assets and civil rescues, Lodovisi said. By absorbing the 15th Wing, the special ops brigade will oversee rescue operations in Italy using the wing’s AW139s. It already oversees similar operations using the 9th Wing’s AB212.

        “The new AW101 can also be used for disaster relief operations and also for border control, with some of the helicopters to be based out of Trapani as well as Cervia,” he said.

        Trapani in Sicily is close to where more than 100,000 migrants attempted the often fatal sailing from Africa to Europe this year.

        The idea of using military assets for civil purposes, in order to better justify defense spending, has also encouraged the Italian Navy to design its new multifunctional vessel to handle disaster relief operations.


        • #5

          Esercito Italiano Receives First ICH-47F's

          The Italian Army has taken delivery of its first two ICH-47F Chinook helicopters during an official ceremony held at Vergiate plant (Italy) today. The ceremony was attended by the Italian Army Chief of Staff Gen. Claudio Graziano, the Director of ARMAEREO Lt. General Domenico Esposito and representatives from the industry.

          The start of deliveries set a major milestone in the strategic partnership between the AgustaWestland and the Italian Army, providing a significant contribution to the modernisation of the Italian Army helicopter fleet giving the customer further enhanced capabilities.

          Esercito Italiano have received their first two ICH-47F's

          The overall Italian Army’s ICH-47F programme is based on an order for 16 units. The contract also includes a five year logistic support service. Deliveries of all aircraft will be completed in 2017. The ICH-47Fs will be operated by the Italian Army Aviation 1st Regiment "Antares" based in Viterbo and they will replace the CH-47C Chinooks that have been in service since 1973.

          The ICH-47F customised version incorporates a secure communications system, self-protection system and advanced datalink system. This new ICH-47F Chinook variant has a Maximum All Up Weight (MAUW) of 23 tons, is equipped with two Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines giving it excellent “hot and high” capability and is suitable for all weather operations.

          The primary tactical mission of the ICH-47F aircraft is to provide air transportation for equipment and troops. Cargo can be carried internally and externally using the aircraft's cargo hook system. The helicopter's payload, long range and high cruise speed make it a unique asset to meet the Italian Army's needs and can additionally perform special support functions, disaster relief and firefighting roles.

          Under a Joint Industrial Agreement with Boeing Helicopters, AgustaWestland is prime contractor for the Italian ICH-47F programme, with responsibility for systems integration, final assembly and aircraft delivery to the Italian Army.

          In addition AgustaWestland is also being qualified by Boeing to produce the entire drive systems. Boeing builds the fuselage in its rotorcraft facility in Ridley Park, Pa. while final assembly is carried out at AgustaWestland's Vergiate plant in Northern Italy.

          The Joint Industrial Agreement between AgustaWestland and Boeing also includes a licensing arrangement that enables AgustaWestland to market, sell and produce these “Chinooks” for other countries.


          • #6
            France Now Considers Reneging on its Promise to Withhold Delivery of Warships to Russia

            The Mistral helicopter carrying warships that France has build on Russia’s order, may be delivered to Russia on schedule — in late October or early November, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday.

            At a joint Pentagon briefing with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Le Drian said the amphibious helicopter carriers must be supplied to Russia as the customer when the delivery time comes. “The decision will be taken at the time of delivery. That should be at the end of October (or the) beginning of November,” the minister said.

            The Vladivostok warship, a Mistral class LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) warship ordered by Russia as seen at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France

            The €1.12 billion contract on constructing helicopter carriers by France for Russia’s Navy was signed in June 2011. The contract provides for the delivery of two warships fully furnished with the navigation and technological equipment, including the license documentation. The ships, named Vladivostok and Sevastopol, are being built at France’s Saint-Nazaire shipyard. The delivery of the Vladivostok ship to Russia was scheduled for November 1, 2014, and Sevastopol — by November 1, 2015.

            Editorial Comment:
            In a momentary attack of conscience, France fleetingly considered honouring principal above profit when it promised NOT to deliver two Mistral Class LHD warships to Russia while Russian forces continued to occupy Crimea and fight the Ukraine's eastern borders. Today however, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian informs us that an ultimate decision will be made when the vessels are fully completed and ready for delivery. Are we to suppose that France truly believes that Russia will employ any significant change in their current offensive towards the Ukraine and Crimea? Perversely, one of the warships is even named 'Sevastopol'! But, I shouldn't be surprised. This is France living-up to its well-earned reputation as the prostitute of Europe!


            • #7

              Sikorsky Withdraw from Polish Tender

              US helicopter producer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation has decided to pull out of the bidding for a $3bn contract to supply helicopters to the Polish military, the company said on Thursday in a statement.

              Sikorsky, a unit of United Technologies, was competing with Airbus Group of France and AugustaWestland, owned by Italy's Finmeccanica for a deal to supply 70 machines.

              Sikorsky said it pulled out, together with Polish company PZL Mielec, its consortium partner, because it would have been impossible for them to deliver their Black Hawk helicopters according to the tender requirements.

              The Polish Defence Ministry said in a statement it sees Sikorsky's withdrawal as a negotiation tactic, an allegation the US firm denied. The ministry said it did not plan to change the requirements of the tender.


              • #8
                France to Supply Helicopter Carrier to Russia

                The Mistral helicopter carrier is to be handed over to Russia soon, though the exact delivery date is still unknown, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the French National Assembly on Wednesday.

                “The contract is being implemented but the exact date of delivery has not yet been set,” the French minister said.

                “The situation is as following: the helicopter carrier is to be delivered soon. But, as we know, the DCNS shipbuilding corporation has said that it does not have government permission to export the ship. So, no exact delivery date has been set. Under a contract with Rosoboronexport /the Russian arms trading firm/, the first Mistral ship is to be delivered in autumn 2014 and the second one is to arrive /a year later/ in autumn 2015,” the French defense minister said.

                The French president said the decision would be made at the right moment and that he would handle the issue with due responsibility, the minister said.

                Editorial Comment:
                As stated in post #6, this is simply France being France - prostitutes to the very end!


                • #9
                  Belgium Receives Last of Four NH90's

                  Belgium has taken delivery of the last of four examples of the TTH troop transport variant of the NH Industries NH90 helicopter.

                  Handed over on 13 November at a ceremony at the Marignane production facility of NHI’s majority shareholder Airbus Helicopters in France, the rotorcraft will be based at Beauvechain air base near Brussels.

                  The NH90 TTH was joined at the delivery event by two of its sister ships, which had been on a harsh environment training exercise near the Pyrenean mountain town of Saillagouse in the southwest of France.

                  Belgium has now received all four of its initial order of troop transport NH90's

                  All four of the 10.6t rotorcraft are operated by the 1st wing of the Belgian air component. The service also has four of the NFH naval model on order, with the third example due to be handed over on 25 November and the fourth following in early 2015.

                  So far its Turbomeca RTM322-powered fleet has accumulated 450 flight hours with an availability of around 70%.

                  “The delivery of this NH90 TTH is the result of a very good co-operation between industryand the Belgian defence forces,” says Vincent Dubrule, NHI president. “From now on, NHI and its partner companies will worktogether in order to make sure the NH90 remains at the level of excellence demanded by itscrews throughout its service life.”

                  This delivery is the 217th for the programme, and the 38th so far this year. NHI remains on track to hand over around 52 of the helicopters this year, it says.


                  • #10
                    French Army Receives First HAD Block 2 Tigers

                    Airbus have delivered the first two upgraded Tiger attack helicopters in the HAD Block 2 configuration to the French army.

                    The new “navalised” aircraft – they can be used from ships – were qualified by the French directorate for armament on 21 November ahead of their delivery on 10 December, Airbus says.

                    The new configuration offers improved targeting for rockets; additional combat fuel tanks for longer endurance; an extension of the flight domain in which Rafael Spike and Lockheed Martin Hellfire missiles can be fired; and new digital communications.

                    The French Army have received their first two upgraded Airbus Tiger helicopters

                    HAD Block 2 aircraft will be operated by GAMSTAT – the aero-mobility group belonging to the technical division of the French Army – before being assigned to the 1st Army Combat Helicopter Regiment, located at the Phalsbourg-Bourscheid air base in France’s Moselle region.

                    This unit already operates HAD Block 1 helicopters, which have been deployed to the Central African Republic, Airbus says.

                    It adds that it has delivered some 110 Tiger helicopters to Australia, France, Germany and Spain, including six HAD Block 1 attack helicopters for the French army, along with 40 in the HAP support and escort configuration.


                    • #11
                      Greece Requests Ten CH-47D Chinooks

                      The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Greece for CH-47D Chinook helicopters and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $150 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

                      The Government of Greece has requested a possible sale of 10 CH-47D Model Chinook Helicopters to include 23 T55-GA-714A Engines (20 installed and, 3 spares), 12 AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System (10 installed and 2 spares), 12 AN/ARC-220 High Frequency (HF) Radios, 12 AN/ARC-186 Very High Frequency (VHF) AM/FM Radios, 12 AN/ARC-164 Ultra High Frequency (UHF)-AM, 12 AN/ARN 123 VOR ILS Marker Beacons, 12 AN/ARN-89 or AN/ARN-149 Direction Finder Sets, 12 AN/ASN-128 Doppler/Global Positioning System Navigation Sets, 12 AN/ARC-201D or AN/ARC-201E VHF FM Homing Radios, 12 AN/APX-118 Transponders, 3 AN/APX-118A Transponders, 12 AN/APR-39A(V)1 Radar Signal Detecting Sets, mission equipment, communication and navigation equipment, Maintenance Work Orders/Engineering Change Proposals (MWO/ECPs), aircraft hardware and software support, repair and return, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, support equipment, minor modifications, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. government and contractor technical and engineering support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $150 million.


                      • #12
                        Airbus Continues Support for German Army Pilot Training

                        The German Army has extended the maintenance and overhaul services of Airbus Helicopters for pilot training aircraft at its aviation training school.

                        Airbus Helicopters reports it will continue to maintain and overhaul EC135 training helicopters operated by the German Army School of Aviation.
                        A total of 14 helicopters are used at the school, which trains about 70 Bundeswehr pilots a year.

                        An EC135 used by German police and also operational with the German Army at its pilot training school

                        Airbus, which did not detail the monetary value of the award, said the new contract is for seven years and extends an existing contract that was signed in 2005.

                        "At the core of the Airbus Helicopters full service contract is ensuring that on virtually every working day, eleven EC135 aircraft are available on the airfield for training purposes," said Ralf Barnscheidt, the company's head of the Military Support Center in Germany. "This puts the fleet's operational availability at over 95 percent.

                        "A team of technicians that is constantly on-site at the Bückeburg location as well as our specialist maintenance center in Kassel-Calden provide technical and logistical support, carry out through-life maintenance and even large-scale repair work, and are responsible for ensuring the mission readiness of the helicopters."


                        • #13
                          Finland Falters in Nordic Battle Group Preparations

                          Finland may not be able to provide four helicopters to the EU’s Nordic Battle Group as promised – due to a staff pay dispute.

                          As of the first of the year, Finland has committed to provide four NH90 transport helicopters for any possible EU crisis management operation through the end of June.

                          A Finnish NH90 lifting-off having deployed infantrymen on the frozen surface of Lake Kuolimo in south-eastern Finland

                          However, the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on Tuesday that some of the 70 Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) staff necessary to operate these aircraft, including mechanics, are refusing to take part unless they are paid more. About 20 percent of the personnel needed to deploy the helicopters are holding out for more compensation. Under current law, FDF staff cannot be forced to take part in crisis management operations.

                          The NH90s would be used for evacuating the wounded during a potential operation.

                          The Swedish-led Nordic Battle Group (NBG15) also includes forces from Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. No EU battle groups have ever been deployed to date.

                          Defence Minister Carl Haglund declined to comment directly on the situation, but says there have been no problems in recruiting Finns to train for potential crisis management operations. Haglund says there has been discussion as to whether the law should be changed so that FDF troops could be forced to participate but told HS that “this is primarily a labour market question”.


                          • #14
                            Netherlands Air Force to Disband 303 SAR Squadron

                            At the start of 2015, the Netherlands Defence organization removed its characteristic yellow AB-412 search-and-rescue helicopters from service. These helicopters, which flew for Defence Helicopter Command, are to be disposed of. Consequently, 303 Squadron, stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base, will be disbanded in the near future.

                            One of the Netherlands Air Force Bell 412 SAR aircraft which has been decommissioned

                            During the course of 2014, the three AB-412 helicopters were deployed over 230 times for carrying-out medical transports and search-and-rescue (SAR) tasks for missing persons. In total, the 303 Squadron helicopters made almost 5,500 life-saving and emergency sorties. The AB-412s are being divested on account of the introduction of the new NH90 maritime helicopter.

                            Medical evacuations guaranteed

                            The Defence organization became responsible for medical evacuations from the Frisian Wadden Islands because the surplus capability of AB-412 SAR helicopters offered the option of carrying out the evacuations without additional costs. This surplus capability will no longer be available after the AB-412s have been relinquished. The Defence organization will nevertheless remain responsible for medical evacuations until an alternative has been found. In the coming period, 2 Cougar transport helicopters, belonging to 300 Squadron, will be deployed from Leeuwarden Air Base as a stopgap measure, allowing Defence to guarantee medical evacuations for the islands until another party is given the task.


                            Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen (NHV) took over the AB-412s SAR tasks from New Year’s Day. These tasks usually involve searching for and rescuing persons missing at sea and carrying out evacuations on ships and oil rigs located in the North Sea. NHV has been carrying out nocturnal SAR operations for the Netherlands Defence organization since July 2011. The AB-412 was not suitable for nocturnal operations on account of its lack of night-vision equipment.

                            Looking back at Holland's SAR 412's



                            • #15

                              UK HELICOPTER FORCE TO BE HALVED

                              On 31 July 2015 the final Army Air Corps course on the Lynx AH Mk7 helicopter completed their advanced twin engine training, and at a stroke another helicopter disappeared from the UK inventory. This event highlights the missing link that exists being staged government policy and the ability to deliver it, where small cuts in equipment here and there tend to go unnoticed, but the cumulative effects are inevitably quite eye watering. In the case of the MOD it is in the helicopter arena that this has become most acute and is sure to be something that will focus minds during the current SDSR15 defence review.

                              The statistics (all from MOD data provided through Hansard) provides interesting reading:

                              Coastguard Agency (through Bristow) by April 2016. However, this is no explanation for the rest of the cuts totalling some 230 airframes across all three services.

                              All of these numbers cuts have been hidden away from public view as older aircraft have been retired and no replacements have been ordered. Thus the loss of the Gazelle aircraft, used widely by the Army Air Corps in field liaison and other tasks has not been noticed or announced. The reduction in Lynx airframes from 158 in 2009, down to 62 of the Wildcat replacement aircraft to the Royal Navy and Army Air Corps, has been hidden in the announcement of new projects and programmes which always seem to be portrayed as good news.

                              The Royal Navy’s Merlin fleet, cut by 12 since the 2009 data, will be placed under further operational pressure with the aircraft taking on the ASaC role from the Sea King. This choice was made despite the other 12 Merlin airframes still being available to the MOD, and without a new owner, effectively consigning these half used airframes to the scrap heap. All of this with the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier actually needing more aircraft to support and protect it rather than less.

                              From a delivery of military effort perspective in support of the now rather diverse set of challenges the UK faces, from a resurgent Russian Bear to the middle-eastern turmoil drive by ISIL, these helicopter forces face an almost impossible task. In the evidence that the MOD has provided to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee both verbal and written it has admitted that these projected force structures cannot actually meet the required tasks at very senior levels. Some of this explains why all three Armed Forces are struggling to retain helicopter pilots and engineering staff who are working progressively harder to try and provide these limited assets to the front line.

                              Some might say we should make do and mend but as the RAeS have recently stated, SDSR15 should be more about a ‘Strategic Reassessment of the UK’s global ambitions’. From what David Cameron has recently been saying about operating East of Suez perhaps that is occurring, but rhetoric and international political posturing do not make up for the lack of equipment.

                              Sav's Rant ..

                              One of the numerous adverse consequences of down-scaling one's military capabilities, is that you become vulnerable to the dictates of others, and which, in our fast-changing world (and where these changes are not necessarily for the better), isn't an 'ideal' predicament to be in.

                              Moreover, Britain will find herself no longer able to respond (in any meaningful way) to international disasters (of which it is predicted that there is likely to be an increase in the coming decades), as it simply won't have the capability to attend these as well as conduct required training manoeuvres and participate in strategic politically-driven exercises.

                              The result for Britons is that they will find themselves being told that the only way 'forward' is further integration with EU, specifically through subscription to a centralised European defence force. The justification for this (as always) will be based on economic considerations as well as the trite rhetoric which says that such a step will enhance 'unity among the EU's member states'.

                              In reality, such a solution is unlikely to deliver little by way of spending cuts as the overall cost of ongoing membership with the EU will outweigh any specific savings which might be gained by 'benefiting' from the resources of a pan-European defence force. Furthermore, and again in order to 'benefit' from such a force, Britain would be required to contribute its own defence force to the EU effort but (and it's an important but) once that happens the UK will no longer have direct control over the operations of its defence force. Instead the newly amalgamated EU force will be administered by a central bureaucracy which will be governed by a ruling council in which the UK will have a single vote (much as the EU is run today).

                              So, from a political perspective, the UK's continual attrition of military resources is setting-up the people of Britain for a scenario in which, at some point, they will be told that the only way the UK can remain a major player in international politics is by subscribing to an EU defence force. Politicians will say things like "The days of European nations standing in proud isolation from one another are over" (they will be referring to past empires) and "We must work together to promote peace and unity" and specifically "The only way European nations can retain a voice in global politics is by consolidating our resources into one European force."

                              On this last argument I have no objection .. European defence forces should unite when required but (and crucially) .. as independent self-governing forces as part of a coalition with mutually agreed objectives (as generally happens at present).

                              In Italy we had little say about losing the Lira (and there are many who want it back) and there are also many who are getting fed-up of being shoved around by those whose interests do not take into account the needs of the country with the same diligence as would be experienced by a truly independent government devoted to national causes.

                              This same dilemma (I fear) may soon affect Britain.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Savoia View Post

                                So, from a political perspective, the UK's continual attrition of military resources is setting-up the people of Britain for a scenario in which, at some point, they will be told that the only way the UK can remain a major player in international politics is by subscribing to an EU defence force. Politicians will say things like "The days of European nations standing in proud isolation from one another are over" (they will be referring to past empires) and "We must work together to promote peace and unity" and specifically "The only way European nations can retain a voice in global politics is by consolidating our resources into one European force."

                                On this last argument I have no objection .. European defence forces should unite when required but (and crucially) .. as independent self-governing forces as part of a coalition with mutually agreed objectives (as generally happens at present).
                                And as if on cue .. the Merkelator says:

                                "Merkel orders Cameron to support plans for EU ARMY in exchange for EU negotiation talks"

                                David Cameron is facing pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to drop his opposition to plans for an EU army, it was disclosed yesterday.


                                • #17

                                  Dutch Air Force Chief Slams US Army Helicopter Plan

                                  The head of the Royal Netherlands Air Force has a message for his U.S. Army colleagues developing the military helicopter of the future: You’re doing it all wrong.

                                  In a blunt address to a room of global helicopter experts, Lt. Gen. Alexander Schnitger said the two primary designs being evaluated by the Army are not ambitious enough and could fall far short of what NATO needs to win a war.

                                  “Sure, requirements call for a helicopter that is twice as fast and can fly twice as far as the current generation, but both solutions are based on ’80s technology, refreshed a little bit,” Schnitger said at the DSEI global security conference.

                                  Through a project called Future Vertical Lift, the Army has asked Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky-Boeing team to build prototypes that could evolve into the design for thousands of new helicopters for the American military and its allies. The Bell design is a new tiltrotor that has rotating propellers — like the V-22 Osprey — so the aircraft can take off like a helicopter, then accelerate to an airplane’s top speed. The Sikorsky-Boeing design includes a compound main rotor and a rear propeller that pushes the helicopter forward, helping it reach high speeds.

                                  Schnitger was not impressed.

                                  “Is that really, really the cutting edge? Is that truly disruptive, vertical-lift technology?” he said. “When I look at the [Future Vertical Lift] designs, I see today’s technology being incrementally improved toward the future. What I would like to see is a disruptive vision of the vertical-lift capabilities that is ready for any operation in 2040. Instead of extrapolating today into the future, I’d like to start with the future and then decide how to get there.”

                                  Helicopter experts can agree that there are certain attributes needed by the rotorcraft of 2030 and beyond, including drastically better performance than today’s aircraft. They need to fly higher, faster, further and carry more.

                                  “We’d like to carry more with a platform that basically weighs the same,” said Pat Collins, an engineer in the British military’s Defence Equipment and Support division. “That might lead us to go into more dedicated aircraft rather than multirole platforms.”

                                  The US Army’s current plan is a scalable helicopter, depending on the missions, with lots of similar components.

                                  “If you actually want to have a viable platform that would be able to get stuff out, long distance, fast, with a large quantity of [gear on board], it may have to be dedicated for that,” Collins said.

                                  Helicopters in the future must be able to evade small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and missiles.

                                  “This is an area that demands our immediate attention, given the rapidly increasing proliferation of more sophisticated threat systems,” said Maj. Gen. Richard Felton, commander of British military’s Joint Helicopter Command.

                                  They must be able to fly in all types of weather, fog, dust, rain and snow. This is a major priority for the US Army. Then there’s reducing vibrations and the wear and tear on rotor blades, two other areas eyed for improvement.

                                  The British military already has a project to prevent helicopters from flying into power lines and other types of wires. More needs to be done to prevent helicopters from colliding with one another on the battlefield when their not transmitting their location, Collins said.

                                  New helicopters must be able to talk to one another electronically and be built in a way that they can receive upgrades without little modification.

                                  While some future helicopters will be pilotless, the manned ones will operate in concert with drones. The Army is already doing this with Apaches and Shadow and Grey Eagle drones.

                                  Schnitger also said there needs to be more participation from European companies for European countries to buy in. In his position as Air Force commander, Schnitger oversees the Netherlands 83 military helicopters, a fleet that includes American-made Chinooks and Apaches.

                                  “If they don’t get it right — we the warfighter, the maintainer, the industry and our political masters — will be stuck with the wrong vertical lift for future missions for a very, very long time,” he said. “That’s why we need to get it right, and we probably need to get it right together.”

                                  Military planners are bad at predicting threats five years from now, as evident of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rapid rise and spread of Islamic State militants. The two designs are based on a present view of the world and technology, Schnitger said.

                                  “So far I am not impressed nor convinced that the current plans are advanced enough to serve us past 2040,” he said.

                                  “When we start thinking about future vertical lift capabilities, our primary consideration should be the effects that the need to be able to achieve in tomorrow’s operations, Schnitger said.