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 …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Mr Chris

    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.

  2. Neil Hoskins
    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?

  3. breakfast

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. Will

    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!

  6. Bob The Dog

    @ Will

    Chinook CH-47 - Max speed: 170 knots

    Merlin ASW - Max speed: 167 knots

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

  7. 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.

  8. shay mclachlan

    Can I be the first

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

  9. Leewok
    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

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  11. Chris jones

    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.

  12. Ferry Boat

    @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.

  13. greg

    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.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    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

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Oh, I thought you said

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

  17. Steve

    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.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  19. 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.

  20. Scott
    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"!

  21. Sarah Bee (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.

  22. Stuart Van Onselen

    Self-interest?

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

  23. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  24. Dave Silver badge

    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.

  25. Jolyon Ralph
    Happy

    I thought clusterfucks had been banned recently?

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

  26. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @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.

  29. Neil Stansbury

    @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.

  30. StopthePropaganda
    Thumb Up

    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.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. James Pickett
    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...

  35. Gilbert Wham

    Why would *anyone*...

    ...buy military equipment from the Italians?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a surprise really

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

  37. Kate Menzies

    @ 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.

  38. jason
    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.

  39. Steve

    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.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    taxes flushed again

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

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ 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.

  42. Chris Welton
    Thumb Down

    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.

  43. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    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.

  44. johnB

    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

  45. Steve Mann
    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.

  46. Matthew Sawtell
    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.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    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....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  49. Trygve
    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.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Steve again - showing ignorance as expected

    Just a few quick points to note:

    The point about striking firemen is very valid here. If you argue that the way to deal with striking firemen is to have no alternative other than to give into them, then you will very rapidly get a situation where the firemen will get increasingly higher pay, well over and above inflation. Should we do this with all our public services until we bankrupt the country? Or should we have an alternative that allows the government not to be held to ransom. It is interesting to look at relative wages between teachers and miners in the 30 years prior to the miners strike. Over that time the miners had been much more militant, and had changed relative wages by 30% as a result. So it appears that allowing militant unions to ride roughshod over the government results in big discrepencies between wages which leads to such things as the winter of discontent where the country could just not afford the spiralling wage demands.

    I chose Denmark as an example because they have conscription and also supported the Iraq war militarily. You argument that having a conscripted army makes it harder for the government to start an unnecessary and unwanted war is fatuous. Have a read of some basic history - like the start of WW1. The fact that mobilisation plans in Europe relied on large numbers of conscripts made war more inevitable following the assassination - read something like Liddel-Hart's history and you should get the idea.

    A soldier does not sign away the right to freedom of thought. A solider has all the same democratic rights as anyone else. They also have a responsibility to obey the law, and in the UK (unlike the US as I understand) armed forces are specifically taught about the doctrine established at the Nurenburg trials that states that following an illegal order is still illegal. Where things were muddied over Iraq was that the top legal advisor in the country had already ruled that the war was legal. That ruling could in theory be challenged by the rule of international law, but no country has raised the challenge in any meaningful way.

    Finally, you can't say that the separation of power in the US has resulted in less unnecessary wars - unless you ignore the whole of the last century.

    It remains clear from your post that you are neither well informed, nor a student of history. Given the adage that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, I am glad that in most western democracies those with such extreme views are unlikely to ever get the opportunity to gain power.

  52. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Flame

    The Presidential Helicomposter is go!

    "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?"

    Yes, about that. Rather smells like politicians oiling up their behinds, right?

    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/werther.php?articleid=12128

  53. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    And bring this man a pedestal!

    Guy#1: "The military - in essence - do a simple job. We protect those who can't protect themselves."

    Only if you are actually under attack. On your home turf. And, I might add, by something more serious than civilans armed with AK-47 and bombs strapped to their chest.

    Guy#2: "The old continent currently lives comfortably under Pax Americana, and some think they can spit on those who protect their beef."

    Reading The Economist much?

  54. Graham Marsden

    @New word in my vocabluary

    > I don't even know what a "clusterfuck" is

    It's an expression warning new soldiers to not stay clustered together, because one grenade and you're all fucked!

  55. ZM

    @Steve

    "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."

    Because the US hasn't gotten led into any unnecessary wars in the past sixty years, right?

    It's obvious you don't like the military or don't believe they're a necessity. Personally, I won't join up, either, but at least I understand the reason for them being around. Should they be used as the world's police? No, I don't think they should. Should their numbers be reduced? Not as long as other countries continue their own buildup of arms and armies.

    Your beliefs are fine, and you're free to express them whenever or wherever you like, and you know why? (You'll love this, I promise...)

    It's because those "hired thugs", as you called them, are there to ensure you keep that right.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Kate

    The motivation for being in the weapons trade is pretty simple - in my book at least. There's money in it. There's a demand so there's money to be made. A simple way to distance yourself is to point out, as in 'Who Dares Wins', is that the politicians press the button/pull the trigger. Sitting around wondering why we can't all be nice to each other went out of fashion pretty quickly after the Summer of Love. Also, those slagging off soldiers would do to well to remember that they don't send themselves in. Not being 'the brightest light on the Christmas tree' hardly means they deserve scorn. Certainly not as much as most supercilious Reg readers, anyway. People here are quick to point out that Iraq is an illegal invasion (which I suppose it is. I could see why the US went into Afghanistan, and it was inevitable we'd be dragged along,) but the forces are also there for defence. Whether you want to admit it or not, I don't see any sign of human aggression disappearing and adequate defence, including equipment, is required. That's as much a reason for countries to have armed forces as any aggressive inclination. Sorry if it's a bit confused - trying to address the arms dealer issue and the 'soldiers always bad' faction. I don't work for the Govt, armed forces or an arms company, before one of you high-IQ wannabes accuses me of being a shill.

  57. Nigee

    Options

    The real alternative to Chinook is Sea Stallion, used by USMC and German Arrmy, the former with a new version in the pipeline.

    Lots of people wittering on about heavy lift. Heavy lift is primarily for equipment, the current needs are predominently for men, because light forces are now the need, this was not the case when UK purchased Chinooks. How many men do you want to lift in one heli? Divide by about 6 gives 'cargo' payload in tonnes.

    There's a long record of military aircraft reliability being something that develops over time, it's a matter of building up flying hours to identify the problems, a function of the number of aircraft and their individual flying hours not to mention the frequency of inspections. Problem with Merlin is that they are few of them and it's going to take time to accumulate the flying time to debug them.

    Of course transport helis are merely a means of getting from a to b, they don't actually do anything militarily useful like killing the Queen's enemies before they kill you, and other honourable tasks.

    Economic theory is that specialisation by groups means that some are better at somethings, others at others, and that best economic benefit is gained by buying from the expert producers of whatever it is. Globalisation means that specialisation may be in different places around the world. This is fine for cars, TVs, etc. The question is the extent to which it is acceptable for defence equipment. The reality is that no nation can afford to be entirely self-sufficient, not even the US. The discussion then gets complicated, but it's unlikely that the answer is to buy the cheapest that vaguely meets the requirement from wherever it's made.

    I'd also speak from personal experience and say there is no shortage of crap equipment from any country. They all produce some real dogs and retain once reasonable gear well past its use by date.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    There's more under the cover..

    "Not to mention all our other dead and crippled service people, and all their families, and all their comrades in combat overseas right now - all paying the bloody price of missing helicopter lift."

    Quite a lot of the guys fighting pay a heavy price for the MoD procurement process. It starts with "the dance of the civil servants" which means they get promoted every 2 years by changing jobs if they keep their nose clean. It means they arrive in the job, check which skeletons are about to fall out of the closet and cover them up, spend 6 months thinking about the job ("learning"), 3 months working and the rest of the 2 years covering up the resulting cockup because all knowledge is now with outside contractors (explaining the ridiculous contracts and "change control" revenue the suppliers get away with).

    After 2 years of preferably not too much bad publicity, rinse, repeat. Talk about "insider threat"..

    I have seen spectacularly bad kit being heralded as "another great success in (bla)" whilst the reality was, umm, "different". If you think T Blair was the "meister" of spin, AFAIK he must have employed ex MoD staff for it.

    Meanwhile, the guys doing the job they have been ordered to do die because their needs appear to be secondary. Nothing new then, move right along, just another dead soldier :-(.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Rose-colored specs?

    I do love it when people with little or no real knowledge of the Military way of doing things start preaching like they know what theyare on about (Steve).

    Many soldiers (and airmen and sailors) joined up as a peacetime "fightin' man" as it's a bloody good life in all - few of them expected to have to actually fight.

    Right up until someone finally decided that continuously threatening wrist-slaps to dictators wasn't really good enough - about the time Saddam Hussein gave the Iraqi equivalent of the two-fingered salute to the UN and invaded Kuwait.

    The UN issued Resolutions condemning the invasion and many people stupidly believed Saddam would just blush, bow his head and walk meekly back the way he had come.

    WRONG.

    Like it or not, there is only one way to stop people doing things like that, and that is to slap them down, hard and fast.

    For those who say "it was all about the oil, look at Somalia who didn't have any", think on this - the UN Resolution in Somalia prevented anyone (ie the Americans) from intervening unless they were fired on directly - which meant that the Peacekeeping forces were powerless to actually do what they were there for; preventing the militias killing the civilians.

    The UN issued Resolutions condemning the Taleban and Al Queda actions and their reaction was the same as Saddam's; they ignored the UN.

    As for it being an "illegal" war, who issued the law "You are not allowed to attack the Taleban or Al Queda"?

    When would the UN actually issue a document making it "legal" to attack them? When they start killing people whos only "crime" is to live in America? When they start killing women just for going out without covering themselves from head to toe? When Brussels has an army of mad gunmen on their doorstep?

    As for the Chinooks, think of it this way - if you bought a lorry and then got told you could only carry certain things in it, that you were only allowed to go where the manufacturer told you and you were not allowed to have ANYONE else do any maintenance work on it, what would you do?

    I don't always agree with MoD policy but this one they got right.

    One final thing; how would you feel if *you* were on a Chinook that got a little beat up 'on the job' and then got told "Sorry lads, we're not coming to fix your ride home out there as it's not in our job description".

    Or are you really stupid enough to believe that not being able to maintain our own kit is a Good Thing?

  60. Jeff Rowse Bronze badge

    Just wondering...

    ...if there is an "About me" page for Mr Page...?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Respect those who serve

    We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. - Eric Arthur Blair

    The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute — get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. - Robert Heinlein

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @StopthePropaganda

    "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"

    That'd be why the Soviet Union, who didn't suffer from a lack of wonga when it came to equipping the Red Army, failed miserably to win a clear victory, or indeed /any/ kind of victory, in Afghanistan? I put it to you that the lack of a "clear victory" in Afghanistan is more likely due to:

    1. the people of Afghanistan being belligerent buggers who take a dim view of having their country invaded*, and

    2. one cannot win a war against a guerilla army just by having more helicopters.

    Having said that, however, I should like to introduce the MoD to my friend Mr. Shovel.

    * - rather like the Vietnamese, in fact

  63. Steve

    Re: all the love

    "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 "

    I'm not trying to have a go at the soldiers, I just don't like being repeatedly told how much I need to respect them - especially those daft enough to fall for those ads. There's only so much sympathy I can find before I just think, "It's the army, not the Post Office. What did you expect?" Individual soldiers that I might know, I wish the best of luck, otherwise they're just an adult who made what I consider to be a very bad choice with foreseeable consequences.

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

    Yes, governments. Without the backing of military force, governments would not have the power to threaten populations in the first place. Your point is somewhat undermined by the fact that we are currently waging two aggressive wars. Militaries have always been for projecting force against other states and controlling the population at home.

    "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."

    I can tell just how much you value individual thought by the response to the one contrarian poster. I can't decide if it's paranoia or arrogance to assume that anyone who disagrees with you must have been forcibly indoctrinated by some evil organisation.

    I know many people join the army because they think they'll save the world and protect the innocent, but that is not what governments use armies for and I'm afraid ignorance is not an excuse.

  64. Andy

    Lynx value for money, or not?

    This comment thread seems to have attracted a bevvy of experts. Can anyone answer this question for me?

    The gist of the second half of the article seems to be that Lynx gives very poor VFM in comparison with the US Seahawk. True or false?

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    333Mhz

    You think helicopter percurement is bad you should see the IT....

    A/C cause i like a job (don't like the job, just a job).

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like you know what you're talking about...

    Why don't you get on and see about a career in military procurement? Seriously.

    I'm sure the country would benefit from having someone look at such facts as 'uptime' i.e. availability of aircraft etc. and then not ignoring them when it comes time to make a decision.

    Rather than try and custom build new stuff, as though the UK were a 'market leader' in military force, we should be playing a 'market follower' strategy, copying as closely as possible the countries who have already invested in x or y technology and have taken the brunt of the learning curve cost on our behalf. Which means Chinooks and Blackhawks perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way, if those statistics about the Merlins' downtime are true, and we still ordered more at a high cost, well, that's disappointing.

  67. Phil Gault

    @Steve

    You are a mouthy idiot who is the big man whilst sitting behind his keyboard. Your comments about the dead soldier are disgusting. These guys are doing jobs that would make you piss yourself with fear. I would dearly love to see you repeat your comments face to face to these "hired thugs" as you call them.

    I am a former Bootneck (go and Google it) and would be more than happy to see you face to face to hear more of your shit opionions.

  68. Slaine
    Boffin

    cloisterfuck was that? oops sorry - that's a priest and choirboy thing

    Can we have some new entries to the conversion calculator please - I'd love to know the conversion factors for comparing "Chinooks" with, say, "Unclear Submarines", "2012 Olympics", "BAe Bribes", "Fully Trained Doctors" and perhaps, "Politician's 2nd home bungs", "Average UK salary", "Mean UK salary" and "Mode UK salary".

  69. Kate Menzies

    @ AC 5th June 02:35 GMT

    "The motivation for being in the weapons trade is pretty simple - in my book at least. There's money in it. There's a demand so there's money to be made. A simple way to distance yourself is to point out, as in 'Who Dares Wins', is that the politicians press the button/pull the trigger."

    Oh, OK then so if there's money in it that's fine. And by the way, in Britain only, the politicians don't like to get their hands dirty with buttons.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2007/11_november/15/newsnight.shtml

    The type of remote control wars that we currently engage in allow for obscene spending on toys which don't really work, no responsibility taken for cock-ups and the death because no politician will ever look the soldiers or their families in the eye.

  70. Chris Coles

    Take simple instruments and fly the aircraft

    All the MOD needs to do, is fit standard aircraft instruments and fly the Chinooks. If all the problem was, was that they were not cleared to fly on instruments, then a standard set of artificial horizon and related instruments out of a civilian aircraft would have done the job for what? 10K per aircraft?

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    My tuppence

    @Will & Bob The Dog

    Perhaps Will meant to quote the range...

    @everyone else

    Merlins were desigend as multi-purpose not heavy lift, not transporters, but capable to some degree of all tasks, there were 9 variants during initial design. I know which one I would prefer to replace the sea king in search and rescue duties!

    anyway I would rather see a billion quid spent within the UK than see 750 million quid going oversees. Generally anything Made in the UK is going to cost more than anything made in the States or China. Due to the wage descrepencies once you factor that into the equation (as governments must) and the fact that only 10% of the budget leaves our shores I for one welcome the UK spending... If you think buying frogin birds is better, perhaps we ought to just reduce our manufacturing capability to zero and give up completely. (dont forget the government get 25% back in taxes from wages!)

    With that in mind I welcome debate about spending 10 million on 'A' from abroad or 17 million on 'B' from abroad...

    PS when was the last time a Seahawk was able to do a loop! Lynx's rock!

    PPS Merlin officially named after a typing Error!

    European Helicopter Industries First Heli => EHI 01 => EH 101

    Had to be the heli icon.. not seen a black Lynx or Merlin though!

  72. DS

    VFM

    Its likely that the Seahawk may be better VFM in a loose generic term.

    The problem though is this. The Americans, or indeed some others can create and design an aircraft (or other vehicle if you will), from early stage through to in service use. Because the sheer numbers ordered are large, they can drive the price per unit downward. They also can spread the development load in terms of costings across larger orders. Its the ford model T approach if you will.

    So yes, on paper, it can be cheaper. However, I think there is a balance here. You could just go and buy all your equipment from the worldwide market, and some will be better, some will be cheaper, some will be worse, and none of it was made by you.

    Also, if in the case of Britain, you cut the production at home, you do lose an amount of knowledge, skill, and capability. Many of these things are not merely a few guys on some production line being thrown out. Much of this really falls into the research and development area, and of being an advanced, skilled country.

    It has been a detriment for Britain to have cut its ability in manufacturing, our equipment made at home costs more because we procure in small number and requirements are high. The fact is we produce only handfulls of warships, planes and helicopters. The same goes for tanks, and other areas, and even when you go to an outside supplier, when you start talking small numbers, you can start waving bye bye to lower costs in many areas. You'll get a large discount ordering a thousand, you won't much for an order of 20. Its partly why when you only order 232 Typhoons, that they end up being so expensive. Had an oder been placed for 2000, the unit price would have been vastly lower.

    The politicians as I said earlier believe in a La La land idea. Where you can rule the world as part of a new order, send 4 warships, 20 helicopters, 50 tanks, and a couple of battlegroups. Operationally, everyone is chipping in, so we all work together. We all send in that sort of weight and we can work it out.

    Only real world operations show the anglo-world and a small number of friends working hard, while many in the EU/NATO sit back and refuse to fulfill the obligations required.

    And in future, the real problem is easy to see. Nations like China are going to laugh their arse off when they are presented with a world order that walks loudly, and carries a very small stick.

    I'll add one more thing. I look at the country, and frankly, it could use a kick up the backside. National service of some kind would certainly be a positive influence on a portion of our populace that have little direction, and are falling into misery, gun crime, knife crime, drugs, and unemployment. It would not harm Britain at all to up the numbers in the armed services, and place some decent sized orders for equipment - and by doing so, drag down the price so its competitive within a world market.

  73. Trygve

    @Anonymous Coward

    "One final thing; how would you feel if *you* were on a Chinook that got a little beat up 'on the job' and then got told "Sorry lads, we're not coming to fix your ride home out there as it's not in our job description"."

    I'd wonder which how that came about when I personally know people who spent their RAF careers fixing Chinooks, including Gulf War 1. If Kawasaki can BUILD the things in Japan, and Finmeccanica can BUILD the things in Italy, it seems fair to assume that the MoD could have it's personnel repair the things if it chose (provided it can stump up wages rougly equivalent to what a decent mechanic would earn in a Ford dealership). It is, after all, basically a 1960's design.

    However, at the moment that's an empty discussion, since the 'ride out' is the same as the 'ride in' - typically a soft-skinned wheeled vehicle since helicopters are practically strategic assets for the UK, which is pretty piss-poor since they are just flying trucks. If you asked the average squaddie in Iraq whether they'd prefer a handful of non-working Merlin's, a larger handful of usually-working Chinooks, or a great big bucketful of crappy old third-hand often-working choppers they'd go for the latter - even a Wessex is better than no helicopter at all.

    But who wants to lease a fleet of grubby white Transits to deliver parcels when they could buy a couple of shiny Porsche Kayennes? Someone who wanted to get a real job done, that's who - and there's no-one like that in defence procurement.

  74. Steve

    QED

    "Your comments about the dead soldier are disgusting. These guys are doing jobs that would make you piss yourself with fear. I would dearly love to see you repeat your comments face to face to these "hired thugs" as you call them.

    I am a former Bootneck (go and Google it) and would be more than happy to see you face to face to hear more of your shit opionions."

    Which rather goes to prove my point about hired thugs. All these heros who point out that they are fighting to protect my right to have my own opinion are more than happy to resort to violence the moment I say something which they deem fails to show sufficient repect.

    I used his name because it was in the article and a handy example, but it's a general point that applies. You can't say he would "still be alive if it weren't for..." when there were other extremely large risk factors involved and umpteen other ways he could have died.

    And the two people I've known who joined the marines both assaulted people the first time they returned home. Maybe it's something in the water.

    "Have a read of some basic history - like the start of WW1. The fact that mobilisation plans in Europe relied on large numbers of conscripts made war more inevitable following the assassination - read something like Liddel-Hart's history and you should get the idea."

    Berlin-Bagdhad railway. Read up on it and then tell me that Arch-Duke Ferdinand's assassination was the only reason we went to war. It is a fact that conscript armies are less effective and harder to mobilise - ask a soldier who they would prefer to watch their back, a conscript or a volunteer. Requiring conscription also leads to greater resistance from the public as people are forced to join against their will. Do you really think we would be in Iraq if Blair had to draught people to get enough troops?

  75. Peter

    @Steve

    Stevie boy said:

    I'm not trying to have a go at the soldiers, I just don't like being repeatedly told how much I need to respect them - especially those daft enough to fall for those ads. There's only so much sympathy I can find before I just think, "It's the army, not the Post Office. What did you expect?" Individual soldiers that I might know, I wish the best of luck, otherwise they're just an adult who made what I consider to be a very bad choice with foreseeable consequences.

    ---

    I do find it deliciously hilarious that Stefano here is in the same breath essentially saying:

    "I'm not having a go at the soldiers! They may be stupid, indoctrinated, ignorant and essentially thugs but in no way am I having a go at them!"

    For such a brave little lad, I'd like you to repeat your opinions to those "individual soldiers you might know", especially the bits where you call them stupid thugs.

    To be brutally honest, these opinions are typical of someone poorly informed, happy to use the exception to (falsely) paint what he sees as the norm in terms of violence by soldiers without mentioning that what he is proposing is essentially unfeasible, riddled with innacuracies and ignoring basic facts.

    For example, saying "Nobody under sixty 'remembers World War Two'" only nitpicks the original point that World War Two is a lesson that everyone should learn. What would a world without armies do if a nation became bent on genocide and ethnic cleansing via armed mobs of irregular civilians for example?

    Also, the blame for why we went into the Great War can be laid squarely at those in the Foreign Office for signing Britain into a myriad of treaties which were flawed from the start, not the military. Franz Ferdinand might have been shot but it is still blindingly obvious that if Austria-Hungary, France, Germany and Russia had not had major conscription schemes in place, war would have been a far more remote a possibility. Britain's involvement came as a result of the rapid mobilisations and movement of millions of men over thousands of miles, triggering obscure treaties which nobody had ever thought would have seen the light of day again. Portugal, for example, was drawn into the Great War thanks to a then 400 odd year old treaty of mutual assurance.

    At the end of the day, I disagree with your opinions. I think they're poorly researched, lack any sort of substance other than to be "different" or to cause a reaction and they're ignoring the massive contribution servicemen make in the cause of humanity outside of major conflict.

    BUT, I agree completely with your right to air those views. And I would fight to ensure that you had the right to air those views. And that at the end of the day must be your biggest frustration. That you must accept that at some point, you will be placed in a position where you will either have to fight for your rights, or lay down willingly before a greater power who does not believe in such things as free speech, human rights or even things like homosexuality.

    Stephany, I do not doubt that you are a good man with generally sound views. But I do not think you need to be so outrageous and (I'm sorry to say) selfish with you thoughts on this.

  76. Steve

    More godless, anarchist rumblings...

    "I'm not having a go at the soldiers! They may be stupid, indoctrinated, ignorant and essentially thugs but in no way am I having a go at them!"

    For such a brave little lad, I'd like you to repeat your opinions to those "individual soldiers you might know", especially the bits where you call them stupid thugs."

    No, what I'm saying is, that if someone I know is stupid enough to sign that piece of paper then I wish them luck and hope they get out in one piece. I'll still tell them it's a really, really bad idea. If it's someone I don't know, I don't feel the need to respect them for doing something that I consider to be a bad idea. Why is this such a difficult concept. If I told you that I belived I would help people by shoving my hand into a fire, would you demand that people respect me for it.

    Do you also not realise that you are yet again proving my point. You are implying that if I would not say anything disparaging near a soldier as he would respond with violence - would those be the actions of the honourable warrior or the hired muscle?

    Respect can never be gained through threatening force.

    "What would a world without armies do if a nation became bent on genocide and ethnic cleansing via armed mobs of irregular civilians for example?"

    Respond with armed mobs of irregular civilians. Or maybe use our police force. Or maybe have a special force to defend the country from invasion - no, that is not "just what the army are".

    "Also, the blame for why we went into the Great War..."

    I never said the military started it, I was correcting the schoolboy version of history where we all started fighting because of the assassination.

    "...if Austria-Hungary, France, Germany and Russia had not had major conscription schemes in place, war would have been a far more remote a possibility."

    So without the standing armies of conscripts, it would have been harder to start the war. How does that invalidate my assertion that, without armies, governments cannot start wars and that it's harder to keep support for a war when you use conscription? It's easiest to fight with a volunteer military, it's harder with conscripts and it's impossible without any military. This ain't rocket surgery people.

    "And that at the end of the day must be your biggest frustration. That you must accept that at some point, you will be placed in a position where you will either have to fight for your rights, or lay down willingly before a greater power who does not believe in such things as free speech, human rights or even things like homosexuality."

    What? How does accepting that I might have to defend my rights have anything to do with respecting people who sign up to fight for what is the largest threat against my rights? I'm sure that it felt good when you slipped in that subtle homosexuality reference at the end.

    Unfortunately it just shows your own homophobia that you think I'd be insulted by it - I'm not, sorry.

    "At the end of the day, I disagree with your opinions. I think they're poorly researched, lack any sort of substance other than to be "different" or to cause a reaction..."

    I'm not sure you actually know what my opinions are.

  77. Peter
    Heart

    @ Steve

    Stefano said:

    No, what I'm saying is, that if someone I know is stupid enough to sign that piece of paper then I wish them luck and hope they get out in one piece. I'll still tell them it's a really, really bad idea. If it's someone I don't know, I don't feel the need to respect them for doing something that I consider to be a bad idea. Why is this such a difficult concept. If I told you that I belived I would help people by shoving my hand into a fire, would you demand that people respect me for it.

    Do you also not realise that you are yet again proving my point. You are implying that if I would not say anything disparaging near a soldier as he would respond with violence - would those be the actions of the honourable warrior or the hired muscle?

    ------

    Completely wrong sadly I'm afraid. What you need to realise is how silly you sound trying to twist your words to cover the gaping holes which your flawed rhetoric have left behind! Must do better I'm afraid. You're just proving my point that you don't really know what you're talking about and are talking yourself into a corner.

    You know what you said, you say you're not having a go at the Servicemen, yet how can you reconcile this with calling them stupid, indoctrinated and thuggish? Again, I didn't say that you would not say anything disparaging near *a* soldier, what I did say was that you wouldn't be so insulting to soldiers which you claim you know who I presume are good friends of yours. Oh! I wonder how they would feel if they knew what you really feel about their profession. You'll be surprised, rather than dishing out violence, I think they'd be rather disappointed and hurt, just like any other member of a respectable profession.

    Stevie boy then said:

    What? How does accepting that I might have to defend my rights have anything to do with respecting people who sign up to fight for what is the largest threat against my rights? I'm sure that it felt good when you slipped in that subtle homosexuality reference at the end.

    Unfortunately it just shows your own homophobia that you think I'd be insulted by it - I'm not, sorry.

    --------

    Now now, no need to get so hot under the collar, I was merely explaining to you the fact that you have to accept that rights do sometimes have to be defended with the rifle as well as with the banner and the placard. It is the ultimate conundrum of liberal parliamentary democracy: just how does such a society defend itself from forces bent on destroying it without destroying the very rights and freedoms it is sworn to uphold?

    And do please cease the needless microanalysis, the homosexuality reference is a nod to such regimes around the world to which it is considered an abomination of the devil. Such regimes who would take delightful pleasure in cracking down on what is considered here a right of the individual. Simple baseless accusations will get you nowhere sonny jim! If you're that rattled by the thought of people being executed simply for their sexual preference, should you really be on this comment list at all?

    Stev-man followed with:

    Respond with armed mobs of irregular civilians. Or maybe use our police force. Or maybe have a special force to defend the country from invasion - no, that is not "just what the army are".

    -----

    Well that is a rather easy way of getting out of a question which has in effect struck you dumb! How would using armed mobs or Paramilitary police be any better at upholding rights and preventing abuses than any other standing army? And remember, as we have seen with the RUC in Ulster and the Gendarme in France, the lines between a Police service and a Military force can blur quite easily.

    Furthermore, in order to deal with such insurrection abroad, your police force/paramilitary force would need to be adequately equipped, protected and *armed* in order to both defend themselves and put down whatever situation they may face. And all of that requires funding. Lots of funding.

    This is where the problem lies with spouting such grand rhetoric as "Lets do away with the army!" It just doesn't add up on either an organizational, financial or even a logical basis.

    Finally:

    So without the standing armies of conscripts, it would have been harder to start the war. How does that invalidate my assertion that, without armies, governments cannot start wars and that it's harder to keep support for a war when you use conscription? It's easiest to fight with a volunteer military, it's harder with conscripts and it's impossible without any military. This ain't rocket surgery people.

    ----------

    You've missed the point, if all those nations had small, highly professional armies on the scale of the UK at that time then it would have been much harder to start a war than it would have been had they held large numbers of conscripted armies.

    Your assertion is of your own opinion. There are arguments for and against the effect of conscription on a national populace. The results are inconclusive, having a conscripted army will not automatically generate general public hostility nor will it create audacious acclaim either. In a situation of war, it would depend on the circumstances. A citizen army would be far more prepared to fight a war in which it believed in, such as a war against a totalitarian enemy guilty of genocide, than it would against some vague insurgent enemy hiding in the jungles amongst the civilian populace.

    Ah well, all good things come to an end. Consider yourself thoroughly vanquished sir!

    And yes, I am five! Good day!

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stu Reeves

    That would be just one big massive blanket fight between them all and it would be an even bigger mess than it is now. There has always been snobbery in the forces and land forces are at the bottom of the ladder. They never get the good deal or the equipment they need (body armour anyone?) and the RAF and RN get all the shiny stuff (new jets, new submarines) while the Army get sweet FA

    And that would mean they have to share things and think things out a big more and that will simply not do!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019