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back to article Time to move on from Chinook to the real MoD cock-ups

The British government has issued yet another damning report into a famous and long-running Ministry of Defence clusterfuck, the case of the Mark 3 Chinook helicopters. Meanwhile, far more expensive procurement errors - in which the chance to improve matters didn't pass by long ago - continue to be largely ignored. A Chinook on …

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Seahawk/Future Lynx

Although the price comparison is worth noting, that's apples and oranges there, though, surely? The Seahawk is a purely navy aircraft (used for ASW and SAR missions), and the Future Lynx is intended for our PBI to flap around in as well as for some of our Oldest Service to play with.

Still, how much are Blackhawks, then? I'll be willing to bet we could get more of those for the Army for our £s, and they'd work better. And we could have them this year.

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Black Helicopters

You could go on...

The prototype Eurofighter/Typhoon first flew around the time I started working for Plessey in the early 1980s. The first production models have only just entered service. How many F16s could we have bought for the same money in the same timescale?

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Bronze badge

Poor unemployed weapons makers

"AgustaWestland would fire British arms workers if their ridiculously expensive contracts were taken away. Mr Leigh, the NAO et al would all have a most unpleasant and stressful time if they followed such a course"

They could probably give every fired worker a bonus 100k redundancy payoff, which should give most of them enough to keep them in baked beans while they go job hunting, and still save a huge amount of money over the price of the hardware.

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Ian
Paris Hilton

Cargo is cheaper than ASW

``The Seahawk is a purely navy aircraft (used for ASW and SAR missions), and the Future Lynx is intended for our PBI to flap around in''

That makes Lewis' point stronger, not weaker. Naval ASW helicopters are chock full of exotic electronics. Transport helicopters aren't. A mixed fleet of ASW and Army helicopters should be cheaper per-unit than pure ASW, simply because of the wildly more expensive fit-out on the naval ones.

Paris. Because she could take over at the MoD and do a better job.

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Merlin roles

I would say 'lifting' is simply a bonus with Merlins. Their main function is surveillance, recon and tracking. The kit they come with iterates this fact. Lets not forget the speed difference between a Chinook and a Merlin either. It's a bit like comparing a lear jet and a 747!

Still I agree with the lack of shopping around the government seems to do with any large purchase!

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@ Will

Chinook CH-47 - Max speed: 170 knots

Merlin ASW - Max speed: 167 knots

Yeah, I see where you're going with that one.

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Tom

GAH!

Lewis, you keep writing these bile inducing reports, if only our MOD chiefs are as competent at running an armed force as they are at beurocratic buffoonery and taking back-handers.

Nice article.

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Can I be the first

Can I be the first to say that it seems there is nothing that wizard about the Merlin.

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Dead Vulture

Have we forgotten ....

the RAF are snobs and dislike helicopters.

When they were first brought into to service the RAF stamped its foot and had a little tantrum along the lines of "if it flies we should have it" then they promptly sidelined then as hard as they could. The army have more use for a helicopter than you can shake a stick at and they will always need one more but of course they are the army and the old boys club doesn't want they're skies cluttered.

What is a pathetic procurement process next to childish decisions that get soldiers killed.

I remember on several occasion when I was looking into joining the RAF and expressed an interest helicopters of getting the response "not good enough to fly jets are you!"

I think the dead bird spilling blood speaks for itself

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Anonymous Coward

Yay, uninformed opinion pieces from Mr. Page!

Who seems to completely neglect to mention the large additional amount of work required to keep Chinooks maintained... especially with blade tracking.

Or the fact a Chinook won't fit in a C17 but a Merlin will...

Or that Merlin was never designed to be a heavy lift helicopter (ASW to fit into a Type 23 hanger was the spec...).

If you're supplying a comment piece you're supposed to have some sort of additional or more detailed knowledge that would provide an insight for the reader. All we get here is an insight into the brainless 'buy american' attitude of some ex-forces personnel.

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Speed Difference?

What speed difference? 9mph? Hardly a gaping chasm of difference.... Coupled with the Chinook's ability to work at higher altitudes, it's far superior reliability and it's vastly better lift capacity, it starts to look quite promising for the chinook.

The Merlin saga is typical of UK government procurement processes. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has had their say on what they'd like the vehicle to do in their own little fantasy world, which the gov't/MoD tries to get the supplier to fullfil on (Who proptly rub hands and say "oooooh that'll cost you") and we end up with an aircraft that is hideously expensive, massively behind schedule and a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Apart from it's fancy engine management systems it's hard to see what the merlin can do that it's more capable and less expensive competitors can do.

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@Bob The Dog

Learjet 85 - Mach 0.82

747-400 - Mach 0.85

So maybe he wasn't all that far off.

Anyway, I ought to stop reading these articles, along with Private Eye, they just make me cross at bureaucracy, the waste of money and in this case life.

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The real reason for the British economy downturn

Ahh the truth comes to light. All those incompetent procurement officers working for the government, wasting money.

Does my nut in, specially when I work for a specialist procurement services provider. We could probably halve the governments military spending given the time of day.

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Coat

Re: @ Will

Mi-26 - same speed, half the price, twice the lifting capacity, and a few Mi-24s with the spare change. Nuff said.

Oh, this is all of course once the idiots down at Whitehall are shaken up and reminded that 5+ NATO countries use Mi-24 and 26 as standard operating equipment and Mil is on the standard NATO procurement list. They need reminding this from time to time as they still think that we are at war with USSR and we should not buy weapons from the enemy.

Me coat, the one with the "I have been at a UK military complex factory while holding a Russian passport and I have watched the MOD clown performance after that" on the back.

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Paris Hilton

All Lewis articles in one easy paragraph

blah blah blah American technology great, Blah Blah Blah British/European Bad

Paris because she's predictable too

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Unhappy

Oh, I thought you said

they were merkins...I had to re-read that.

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Hate to sound cruel, but...

The last time I checked we had a volunteer military. Take Major Bacon, for instance;

"If it were not for the breakdown because of a fault with the hydraulic systems of the Merlin helicopter that was due to collect him... that morning he would be alive today ... "

Now, that's a fairly hefty assumption. I would argue that a more accurate statement would be; "If he hadn't been prepared to follow orders without question and kill for money, Major Bacon would not have taken part in the illegal invasion of a foreign nation and it's residents would not have attempted to kill him."

If you sign up for the military, then you are stating that your life is expendable and that you trust the state so much that you will not require an explanation when they order you to kill. And then people are surprised when the military fucks them over. Surely that's at odds with the idea of the educated, professional, modern soldier. In fact I'd say that it was "military-grade naivety"

Personally I'd take all the money and use to balance the NHS books and let them walk to war as I'm not convinced that reducing the mobility of hired thugs is necessarily a bad thing.

Yes, I said "hired thugs" and the best proof of this is the response you get when you state it.

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Black Helicopters

New word in my vocabluary

I don't even know what a "clusterfuck" is, but it will definitely be part of my vocabulary from now on.

Thanks.

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DS

Other issues

There are a few things I wish to take issue with in this article.

Firstly, you are right, there IS a severe shortfall in British Equipment, AND in other areas. This is true. And where ever there is a short fall, what happens is additional pressure is heaped upon every area, procurement, supply, in service reliability, failures, operational use and so on.

The comparison of Chinook vs Merlin is not really a fair one. The are two designs that might be used in the same purpose, but the Merlin was never specced to be operationally a Chinook challenger.

The lack of Chinooks could be solved tomorrow if there was someone with balls to commit to it. The problem is money, or lack of, and a continual political will to keep this money costs down.

But in actual fact, this comes down to a political failure, one that may not be as obvious as it seems.

That Political failure is one that is long and complex, at its core value is the cornerstones and assumptions made by Government over a long period. These in a nutshell are:-

We are part of NATO, as such, we will operate in joint ops and share the load in future operations.

And

We need to be capable of 2-3 operations at any one time, these operations will be limited, short term, international policing like events, and will be dealt with by point 1.

In Afganistan, we are operating as a portion of NATO, and as such, its true there is a fatally short amount of supply in lift, and in many other areas. But the truth is that it was never supposed that British forces would have to go fight alone in Afganistan, and indeed we are not. There is some support in Lift and Air support and no doubt in some other areas, but its not nearly enough, and its not nearly the committed amount that a NATO alliance and its members should have committed.

The guys fighting in NATO ops are Brits, Canadians, Dutch, Americans, and a few others. There are many notable who are not and I won't name them. Thank you Denmark for letting us take your 8 Merlin's and we'll buy you another 8 later, but you could have flown those 8 in air support/Lift of a NATO operation as your damn obligations require. That goes for a lot of other nations, in our glorious EU. There are over 3000 choppers in the EU, on paper available, most states reside inside NATO as well. Yet we have not enough lift capacity available.

British procurement cockups aside, this is a bigger issue. And a serious one. If NATO does not work, there is no real point in being there. If when the crap hits the fan, we have to go buy or find all the capability ourselves, then there is no point in being part of it. If when there is fighting to be done, its only our guuys who will stand in the firing line, then there is no point.

I happen to love NATO. It stood there as a protector of my society for all my child and adult life, but no more. Consistently, NATO and some 'allies' are not holding up to their end of the bargain.

When Afganistan directly and indirectly played its part in the Attacks of 9/11, everyone concurred that it was intolerable, and this led to the Afganistan operation. The cornerstone of NATO existence is if one of us is attacked, we are brothers.

I am not seeing that. I see laudable efforts, in the main from the Anglophile world, and some others, but in many a case I don't see it from elsewhere. Not withstanding some EU areas who WANT NATO to be destroyed, it brings into question the British Defense Policy.

We cannot assume things like others will pitch in and provide equipment and men and operational help, if it does not exist.

And we cannot cut and trim the armed forces if that happens.

So either NATO steps up, We step up, or we step back. Hence its why I say its a political failure, because the politicans set out a vision of international military joint ops that is La La land, a fantasy, and British Soldiers, Sailors, and Air/men/women are facing extreme risk and hazard, AND our whole defense structure is buckling under this duress.

We have been at war fully in 2 theatres now since 2001, and had to maintain ops elsewhere (Kosovo, Cyprus, and other areas) with a peacetime budget allocated on the premise of the idea of military and operational partnerships, ones that seem broken and failing.

Even today, the RN faces being frankly obliterated because the politicians in their view see little reason to maintain it. Plenty of news out there about cutting from 24 warships down to 16 and so on. Regiments being cut, Squadrons being cut, and it continues to spiral down. The Carriers and JSF might be cut, depends how badly things go from here.

In the context, what should have happened many months ago, was that certain friends in no uncertain terms should have been told 'pull your finger out. I am not asking you to send some Helicopters, I am telling you to send them, and that does not mean sitting in Kabul fucking hookers while taking never ending RnR.'

The Polite public comment that certain countries would 'like others to do more' should have been a private bloodfest.

Europe and NATO have the choppers available, and under the defense understandings, these should have made up any shortfall in any one countries available options. Inside the EU, there are over 3000 available, and yet none can get to Afganistan oddly enough.

Its all a serious answer the politicians need to answer. Because British men and women are dying because of it, and they deserve the Helicopters flying right now, and I don't give a shit who the hell flies them, I just know they exist, and I know they should be there, and I know they COULD be there.

In that context, this problem is rather more than a procurement cockup, its much larger and uglier than that.

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Black Helicopters

A couple of points...

@Neil Hoskins: The first flight of a Eurofighter was in 1994 and it entered service with the RAF in 2003 - still a fairly long development period.

@Will: you're thinking of the Navy's Merlin HM1s. The RAF's Merlin HC3s are very much meant for "lifting"!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: New word in my vocabluary

'Clusterfuck' is the cornerstone of any respectable swearer's vocab. Along with 'asshat' and variations thereof.

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Self-interest?

Lewis's articles always bring out a couple of UK arms industry astro-turfers, don't they?

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Black Helicopters

Wrong lesson

So, on the back of a story about the dangers of procuring foreign hardware - the HC3 couldn't be certified airworthy because Boeing wasn't required to supply the avionics source code, and then turned out to be extremely expensive for support - we draw the conclusion that it's better to buy the cheapest possible option? Instead of, say, keeping the technology and IPR in British/MoD hands with some sort of partnership agreement? And considering through-life costs? After all, no company would ever exploit a position as monopoly supplier to the entire world...

Yes, we need more heavy lift, and Chinooks are pretty much the only game in town for that. But one Chinook is only worth two Merlins if you happen to want to send everything to one place - two airframes means you can fly two sorties in opposite directions, which is kinda useful. And the Merlins have nearly twice the range of Chinooks. For the sort of large-scale logistics where (capacity x airframes) works as a metric, fixed-wing (C-17/C-130/A400M) or sea transport is a better option.

The Merlin has indeed had a troubled past, and yet has been chosen by the yanks - as the US101/VH-71 - over Sikorsky's offering, for the Presidential Helicopter ("Marine One"). So I guess maybe it isn't that bad?

AC for obvious reasons.

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More than one issue

Theres more than one issue here, sure the US choppers appear cheaper and more reliable, BUT the UK ones have advantages. First, remember the Falklands, had Argentina been able to make exocets would we have won - I think not, they relied on foreign weapons and ended up losing, we should NOT make that mistake (as we are currently doing on army lorries, shells and bullets!). Second, although the money is more some at least finds its way back through taxes, reduced unemployment, and the ability to export (perhaps not quite the difference).

It does strike me as incredible that we fail yet again to provide ourselves with stuff that works, are we really incapable? I think not, perhaps its the penny pinching paperwork obsessed management thats at fault, I don't know, but we do need to sort it out. We SHOULD use British built helicopters, but we MUST make them at least as good as the best in the world.

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Happy

I thought clusterfucks had been banned recently?

Except for the Americans and Israelis of course, who will continue to clusterfuck with gay abandon.

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Coat

Clusterfcuks

Alas I do believe that nice Mr Brown has decided to ban our use of Clusterfucks, to be replaced instead by single Fucks more accurately and rapidly delivered.

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Boffin

Yes but its not about Chinooks v Merlins

It has still taken years to resolve what should have been resolved in a few days. And everyone knows the MoD procurement rules are hideously bureaucratic and inefficient. And everyone knows that British and European arms suppliers are hopeless basket cases that have only been kept alive by being featherbedded by self serving politicians. And everyone knows that British servicemen and women die due to MoD and Government incompetence. Everybody knows, no-one it seems, cares.

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@Steve

Steve,

It is clear from your portrayal of the UK military as a bunch of hired thugs that you have no idea of the role they perform, nor of the importance of them. I assume you aren't that old and have no memory of such major events as the Second World War where the armed forces of a number of countries fought and died to stop a particularly bad thug from genocide.

Also in more recent memory you might recall the armed forces doing rather useful things as standing in for firemen when they go on strike, collecting rubbish when dustmen go on strike, or handling the culls necessary for Foot and Mouth. Now, I'm sure with your view that you will be happy to forgo services like firemen or police, where the military have supported things in the past. Furthermore, I'm sure you'll be happy to live under the doctrines and principles of Adolf.

Now, a final point is to understand that the military of a democracy are there to carry out the will of a democratically elected government. If you disagree with what they do, then you have the right to vote them out. Given that New Labour managed to get re-elected after going to war in Iraq, it would seem that a lot of people don't have the bigoted views that you have.

Of course the final point that is worthy of mention is that if we didn't have a professional armed force, then conscription would be much more likely (as happens in many very advanced democracies - like Denmark for example). Rather than slagging off a soldier who died in his duty, you should thank him for volunteering to do something that means that you weren't forced to do the same, but with less training.

I'm quite happy to bitchslap the government and their incompetent policies as much as the next man, I'm also happy to slag off incompetence in either the military, or the procurement executives. Slagging off someone for volunteering to protect their country and dying in the process, regardless of whether you agree with the war or not, is a step too far.

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@DS

[..]The cornerstone of NATO existence is if one of us is attacked, we are brothers.[..]

..and perhaps if we hadn't invaded Iraq, which wasn't NATO sanctioned we'd have had much more capability available and sooner.

So what of the Merlin/Chinook design requirements?

The issue is what is and has been required, now and over the last 4-5 years. Change happens - accept that and deal with it.

This sounds like classic Civil Service incompetence: incapable of making decisive decisions, incapable of recognising changing requirements, and incapable of distinguishing a bad decision from a good decision that turns out to be wrong.

This happens in every corner of Central & Local Government in the UK, it's just the MoD happens to buy rather bigger, and more obvious and expensive toys.

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micromanagement capability and leftist politicians

produce this crap everywhere. Leave the fighting to the pro's. The hippy dippy w@nkers and their name calling mentality and holier-than-thou interference only causes everything to be done half-@ssed. civilian authority towards military activities should only be "Stop/Go". Go to war or Stop the war.

But the same thing that screwed up Vietnam, the bean counting, interfering MacNamara types are the ones that caused the lack of clear victory in Afghanistan and are why this "War On Terror" isn't over yet. The very same people who make the loudest complaints are the ones that are deliberately extending it, often for their own profit or to make themselves feel important by "opposing" when the government does what they want. Someday, maybe liberals will accept their responsibility instead of pointing fingers like spoiled guilty schoolchildren.

Kudos to LP for proper weaponization of the "clusterf*ck". Until such time as whiny idle rich dilettantes decide to lobby to ban such things. They can have my FUBAR when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

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Heart

May be a silly question

but other than egos, why do we still have 3 armed services? Seems daft.

Land forces need air and sometimes sea cover, Air cover needs ground troops, for securing bases and the navy need flying things and ground troops to open the up the ports.

Why not have one big force all working together, sharing equipment, acting as a team, or is that just to sensible?

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Anonymous Coward

to Steve.

The military - in essence - do a simple job. We protect those who can't protect themselves.

And to quote a fave piece of prose I like to rollout at this time:

It is the Soldier,

Who Salutes the Flag,

Serves beneath the Flag

Who's coffin is draped by the Flag

That allows the demonstrator to burn the flag.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Black Helicopters

Chinooks

The article implies that the HC2 version is OK. IIRC, that was the one that crashed in Mull, taking out a fair chunk of our military intelligence (assuming their is such a thing) and a pair of pilots who had resisted the mission because the chopper's engine control system (FADEC) was so unreliable. Naturally, the MOD couldn't bring themselves to corroborate this, so they blamed the dead pilots instead.

I daresay they work better in conditions where the pilots can actually see where they're going, but it seems odd that the MOD should carry on shopping for more...

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Why would *anyone*...

...buy military equipment from the Italians?

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Anonymous Coward

Not a surprise really

At least it's not EDS this time...

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@ Steve

I am no great admirer of the army and the role it plays but I think to have a go at the soldiers misses the point. Many are drawn in by the frankly ridiculous TV adverts (Join the Army: It's just like being paid to play on a PlayStation he he he) which are not aimed at the brightest lights on the Christmas Tree but I don't think people sign up with the objective being to kill and be killed.

My real objection is with the arms trade itself. I am at a loss to understand the motivation of someone who goes into work everyday to design things which kill people, but I know some who do and they're not completely evil, maybe they are able to disassociate themselves a bit more than I think I would be able to. Then you have the dealers who are the worst of the bunch, cynical and devoid of morality. Making money out of arms dealing is, to me, the same as making money from dealing drugs.

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Unhappy

Is it not so much crap govt. decision making....

...but a total lack of balls when making up contracts?

In the UK you see news that a govt. contract is up for grabs you know there will be nothing on the contract but -

"We the UK Govt agree to pay *************************** as much as they want for however long it takes even if nothing actually gets delivered.

We also agree that no one will get the blame or lose their job over this!"

Why cant we start adding on penalties for bad delivery or bonuses for good delivery? I bet Wembley Stadium would have been built on time or even earlier and at far lower cost if all the staff involved would have got a good tax free bonus or the bosses were at risk of losing theirs.

At the end of the day we reward mediocrity and incompetence in the UK. If you are good at your job you are seen as a threat so never get to make the decisions. Sad.

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A step too far?

"I assume you aren't that old and have no memory of such major events as the Second World War where the armed forces of a number of countries fought and died to stop a particularly bad thug from genocide."

I'm 30. No-one under 60 "remembers" WWII.

"Also in more recent memory you might recall the armed forces doing rather useful things as standing in for firemen when they go on strike, collecting rubbish when dustmen go on strike,"

Unecessary if they were paid a decent wage and I'm more than willing to cut the military budget to pay for it. If they were surprised that they werecalled in to bail out the government then that justifies my claim of "military-grade naivety". Also, a fireman's chances of being asked to run into a burning building during their working lifetime are a lot higher than a soldiers chances of a war being declared or them getting into a random firefight.

"or handling the culls necessary for Foot and Mouth."

Necessary? - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/3666896.stm

"Now, I'm sure with your view that you will be happy to forgo services like firemen or police, where the military have supported things in the past."

False dichotomy: love the army or there'll be no fire/police service.

"Furthermore, I'm sure you'll be happy to live under the doctrines and principles of Adolf."

You just broke Godwin's Law. Your Daily Mail subscription is in the post.

"If you disagree with what they do, then you have the right to vote them out."

Surely an expression of opinion.

"Given that New Labour managed to get re-elected after going to war in Iraq, it would seem that a lot of people don't have the bigoted views that you have."

So my bigoted opinion is OK in the ballot box but not on the internet?

"Of course the final point that is worthy of mention is that if we didn't have a professional armed force, then conscription would be much more likely (as happens in many very advanced democracies - like Denmark for example)."

And it would be harder for the government to start an unnecessary and unwanted war.

"Rather than slagging off a soldier who died in his duty, you should thank him for volunteering to do something that means that you weren't forced to do the same, but with less training."

I do not see why volunteering to sign away the right to freedom of thought and do something that I think is wrong should automatically be lauded over any other career choice.

"Slagging off someone for volunteering to protect their country and dying in the process, regardless of whether you agree with the war or not, is a step too far."

The words country, nation and state are often used interchangeably. The person who signs up may use 'country' in the sense that you do, but in practice, it's clear that it has always meant 'state'. From the start, 'King & Country' was a marketting ploy to convince peasants to fight for the king. It's why we haven't had an all powerful monarch in this country for a thousand years. Concentrate to much power in one place and you get led into unnecessary wars which is also why the US was set up with powers seperated between three branches.

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taxes flushed again

Thank goodness .gov.uk is rolling in money (our money)

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@ a step to far

Slag off Labour for agreeing to go into iraq - not the military - no one sees the link between this war and protecting the UK.

I despair at the lack of credible leadership in this country.

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S**t scared !

That'll be the real reason behind the Chinook storage. Besides, Browne will never get off his arse and give us the REAL story behind the Mull of Kintyre crash (or at least until he is in Opposition and by that time he wont give a monkey's.

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Pirate

RE: Steve and Lewis

RE: Steve

Don't worry, you don't sound cruel, just stupid, ill-educated and disrespectful. I'm sure whatever institution or grouping that spoonfed you such beliefs will be happy to applaud your idiotic ramblings so please save it for them, we prefer posters with the capacity for individual thought here.

RE: Lewis

First off, I am a big Chinook fan, but I see a few problems with the old bird. A common observation is that it is simply bigger, which is not always a benefit in a tight landing zone, especially given that the pilot has to be aware of a main rotor at each end of the craft, whereas the Merlin can drop into a tighter LZ as it has one centrally-mounted main rotor. As was mentioned above, the Chinook has restrictions on air-transportation, which means the Merlin will probably be able to deploy faster and then have additional range to enable it to get to the battlezone first, a key point with rapid deployment plans.

The Chinook is a design over fifty years old so it is not surprising that Boeing are able to pump them out at such a low price seeing as they have managed to re-coup the development costs years ago. Frankly, I would expect that - given fifty years of development - the Chinook would have a better reliability rate over a newer design, but that will change as the Merlin is developed. Given time, I expect the more modern Merlin will exceed the Chinook on reliability IF the money and time are invested in proper development as it is simply a much more modern design.

The Merlin offers several avenues for development, and there is only so long that Boeing can keep stretching the old Chinook before they have to commit to a newer design. When Boeing do they are back to the same development costs as everyone else and they will have to offer any new design at a higher price, at which point Merlin should have re-couped most of it's development costs and will probably present a much more favourable cost comparison.

Regarding the Future Lynx - the original Lynx was an extremely capable and agile craft much loved by its crews, capable of deployment as a short-range Naval ASW or anti-shipping weapon, a light transport, or as an anti-tank platform. This allowed it to cover several roles in one common airframe, of which the much larger Blackhawk can only do two (no-one in their right mind would consider using a bulky Blackhawk as an anti-tank chopper). The Lynx was developed into a record-breaking platform, setting the helicopter absolute speed record in 1986, and was an export success story even when pitched against cheaper American kit such as the Huey and Loach. By the looks of it, there is already plenty of foreign interest in the Merlin too.

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Putting things in context

This puts in context the money wasted on gov't IT projects - NHS, ID Cards, etc - at least they don't result in death & serious injuries

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Unhappy

Why We Fight

I won't presume to second guess why anyone chooses to join the military. I was never required to do so, and didn't. I am mature enough now to recognise the truth of the old "walk a mile in someone's shoes" dictum, and so will respectfully distance myself from the other Steve's rabid frothing at a dead soldier's family's grief and belief that someone should answer for the why of it all.

Handy that those armed and trained people are there though, especially if you happen to be in a place you had a perfect right to be in yesterday but today a foreign government is saying you don't, and by the way, they think they might kill you for not knowing that beforehand. Sometimes the situation isn't nearly so...1970s cut-and-dried.

Of course, this is all beside the point as others have said. The real scandal is what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex and what it is willing to do to the people around it.

Only a childish buffoon would blame a soldier, sailor or airman for what happens when you make it extremely profitable to make arms and armaments, and give the people who do so easy access to politicians. The end results are inevitable and, it seems, unavoidable.

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Pirate

@ Lewis Page

Suffice to say - world history is littered with the tales of four star screw ups - like the U.S. Army in WW I not using the BAR, and using the French Shoo-Shoo instead.

Only option for the British Public - give your local minister a good shift in arse and tell them get the house in order.

Before anyone asks - I am on the crank list of several U.S. Senators, and Representative - including one of two running for President.

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Unhappy

What about the other choppers?

I seem to remember similar stupidity with Apache procurement. Excellent we've got our new toys delivered, hands up who can fly one of these things?

Is there any procurement contract the government (not just the present, the previous lot too) has signed that is anything like value for money?

I'm not an expert but can probably find a helicopter significantly better than the merlin for 35mil a piece, in fact I can probably build one out of pre 1981 meccano.

Glad its not my tax money paying for this military pork - hold on a sec....

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Pirate

Take away their pocket money

That's what I think.

We need the procurement equivalent of the Corporate Manslaughter Act. It is no longer necessary to be guilty of doing something wrong, the act of doing nothing is also an offense, if the result of that inaction caused a death. The National Audit Office needs the power to sack any civil servant who has not only got it wrong, but failed to act quickly enough to put it right. No pension, no garden leave. In wartime it would be called treason and be a hangable offense.

If a soldier is killed because of a lack of equipment, then the person or persons responsible for failing to get the equipment to the right place at the right time should be held accountable. Ditto for the fire brigade, police, and anyone else who puts themselves at risk instead of me.

By the time we (and our employers) have paid national Insurance, Income tax, VAT, Council Tax, etc, We are paying at least 60% tax in this country, unless you are in the higher tax band, in which case it is more like 80%.

And then we get guilt-tripped into giving money to charities because we cannot avoid seeing all the misfortune, neglect and suffering all over the world. Quite often caused by our taxes in the first place...

Funny old world, init?

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Stop

@James Pickett and others

Even though I have no military background, it would seem to me that having lots of powerful and ready to fly (but with a definite but small chance of crashing because of shite software) helicopters is preferable to the alternative of having a tiny handful of small, weak helicopters which are permanently in bits being repaired. Because then at least you have a choice whether or not you wish to risk driving past the IEDs, or prefer the risk of flying.

" one Chinook is only worth two Merlins if you happen to want to send everything to one place" - both Merlins will most likely not be in a fit state to fly anywhere at all. Did you miss the part in the article where the full fleet of 22 Merlins boiled down to an average of four airframes in operation at the sharp end?

Kamov, Mil, Boeing, Sikorsky, Eurocopter- there are other manufacturers out there, and if you place a big enough order they'll set up a production line in your country and hand you all the technology you want, so I don't see why everyone is so stressed about shopping foreign for some bits of gear that British troops (who may be from Nepal, Fiji, Jamaica, Ghana, South Africa or wherever). The Italians are having their new Chinooks built by none other than AgustaWestland, using the same production line Finmeccanica used for the ones they are currently using.

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IT Angle

Awwww ... C'mon

I heard about this shit on the Today Programme.

A wee bit of 16-bit assembler and — hey bingo — they're airworthy.

Fer Christ's sake!

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