Blackwater to save British Army

Forces may have to rent helicopters – Home News, UK – The Independent

British forces are so short of helicopters in Afghanistan and Iraq that they are considering renting them from other countries, or even from the controversial US security contractor Blackwater.

How embarrassing is this? The UK not only desperately short of helicopters but having to hire them from a private company. Why not get the French and Germans to stump up the helicopters? Our so called NATO allies aren’t really doing anything else in Afghanistan.

The question is, why is one of the world’s foremost military powers (at least historically) struggling so much with helicopters? I think the answer lies in the fact that this is the ‘New British Army’ where everything is done on a shoestring.

“Analysts point out that in South Armagh in the early 1980s the prevalence of IRA roadside bombs caused all movements by the British military to be undertaken by helicopter – 70 aircraft were supplied. Helmand, which is six times bigger than Northern Ireland, has just 16 passenger helicopters.”

A real sign of the times. Despite the commitments we had around the world back then, the army asked for helicopters and they received 70 of them. Today, although we only have an airport security force remaining in Iraq, and despite the fact that it was a major operation being conducted within Helmand, the army asked for helicopters and were given 16.

By my reckoning British Forces have over 200 decent transport helicopters available, so where are they all?

This may go some way to explaining it.

“Meanwhile, eight Chinook helicopters ordered from Boeing and destined for special forces lie idle in hangars in south-east England after the RAF found that they were airworthy only above 500ft and in clear conditions. It has taken Boeing and the MoD five years to come up with a solution. The Chinooks will enter service in 2011 at an additional cost of £250m.”

Five years and millions of pounds of taxpayers money, to not even get what we paid for. The MoD procurement division is run by a bunch of complete buffoons, either they are completely incapable of doing their job, or they are making a healthy profit on the side of these procurements.

Chinook’s carry 40 men and cost about £5 million each, by my maths for £250 million we should have 50, instead we have eight, even though the £250 million is additional costs, I am sure that in reality the MoD paid £billions for them. That £250 million could buy 25 Apache helicopters, 3.5 F-22 Raptors or about 250 Sea King MK4’s which can carry 27 men (what the Chinook was meant to be replacing).

I am sure that the MoD idiots believe that they got a great deal. All that money for an aircraft that can only flight above 500ft and in clear conditions, yet according to their own website:

“The Sea King HC Mk4 is an all weather, day and night amphibious medium support helicopter…The Sea King HC Mk 4 has clearance to fly in certain icing conditions and is fully Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible.”


They already had a perfectly acceptable helicopter in service. A replacement aircraft, the Merlin can carry 24 men and is already in service and according to the RAF:

The Merlin is the first of a new generation of
advanced, medium support helicopters for the RAF. It is an all weather,
day and night, multi-role helicopter used in both tactical and
strategic operational roles.”

This again begs the question, why spend a further £250 million on aircraft that don’t work, when that could replace all eight Chinooks for the same price, with Merlin helicopters that do work?

DreadnoughtThis is what happens when we have no decent defence contractors of our own and have to buy everything in from the Americans, at knocked up prices. Even if we were to purchase equipment from our one remaining contractor, BAE Systems, they can literally charge whatever they want, as there is only them in the market, not to mention the corruption that goes hand in hand with BAE

If one were to think back over the great names of the British military hardware, such as HMS Dreadnought, she was built at the Portsmouth Naval base, now British ships are designed in France, but at least they are still largely built in Britain. The Sopwith Camel was one of the most famous WWI fighters, Sopwith went bankrupt in 1920. The Fairey Swordfish was a biplane that famously destroyed the Italian Navy single handedly in WWII and crippled the mighty battleship, the Bismarck. Fairey no longer make aircraft.

The Supermarine Spitfire is probably the most well known British aircraft ever, Supermarine was owned by Vickers Armstrong which was forced to merge with others to form the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) which became BAe, which became BAE Systems.

The Hawker Hurricane runs the Spitfire a close second, along with the Hawker Harrier. Hawker was set up by Thomas Sopwith (after Sopwith went bust) and Harry Hawker and also became part of BAe in the late 70s.

Great names, all consigned to the dustbin. Today Britain has the Eurofighter (Typhoon) and the Lockheed Lightning II, both mainly designed and manufactured abroad.

Incidentally the US still has classic names such as Lockheed, Northrop Gruman, Boeing and General Dynamics, even the Germans still has, at least until recently Dornier, and Messerschmitt.

Whilst Britain continues to depend on foreign contractors, or a home grown monopoly the quality of equipment for British forces will decrease, whilst the costs will continue to escalate until it is no longer economically viable to have a standing army.

Then, like bin collections, it will be sub contracted out, to someone like Blackwater.

9 responses to “Blackwater to save British Army

  1. A very good post and I agree with many of your points, but I must make one correction. The Hawker Harrier is not the only foreign-made aircraft (surely British doesn’t count as “foreign”) bought by US forces. In fact, the United States military has bought scores of aircraft from foreign manufacturers since flying machines were invented with French, Dutch, British, Canadian, Italian and even Germans providing fighters, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, dirigibles, transports, gliders, pursuit craft, liaison aircraft, and trainers.

    And we’re not talking obscure aircraft either. The Americans have bought Spitfires, Hawks, Beaufighters, Canberras, Lysanders and Mosquitoes. In fact, the President is flown in a specially-made Merlin built under licence by Lockheed.

    You can find a fairly complete list here:

  2. Thanks Davszo, I had no idea that the US had used so many foreign made aircraft.

    I am very surprised about the President using a Merlin, which I suppose shows it is a very good helicopter. Which makes it all the more surprising that we are still buying a 45 year old helicopter, like the Chinook, rather than the modern and more advanced Merlin.

  3. Free to think, free to believe...

    The thing is that if you can get an extra payload with only one helicopter you get an edge.

    The Chinook’s in action have proved themselves many times over – if you can update the electronic counter measures and the like – as they did with the Vulcan in the 80’s – then you’d have a pretty darn good helicopter with all it’s flight life still left.

    The MoD has just had an order for choppers canceled so they were until a few days ago getting both…

  4. In fact, the President is flown in a specially-made Merlin built under licence by Lockheed.

    Shhhhh! Jesus, Bush is hated enough…If this gets out our Left will try to hang him. 🙂

    How the hell are ya’, Charlie?

  5. Free to think, free to believe…

    I agree about the Chinook being a good chopper, but it’s extremely vulnerable to attack from the ground (or at least was), and if they have to refit it, just to be able to fly, well it sounds like a bit of a false economy, not to mention the fact that it has taken FIVE years to find a resolution to that problem.

    There is or was a similar problem with the Apache Gunships I believe, many were sat in a hangar awaiting parts before they could fly.

  6. Hi Tizona,

    Hope you are well. I was just as surprised about the Presidential helicopter, whatever happened to Sikorsky?

  7. Ukraine’s are out this year, Sir Charlie.

    You just wait, ’til Obama runs our country. Hell, he will have Mugabe Air in charge 🙂

  8. Here’s the change Charlie!

    Obama rents holidy home from rich republicrat. He’s one of us alright… Mr Obama and the First Family are planning to spend their summer break on a $20 million retreat on the wealthy playground island off Cape Cod and even seem undeterred that the property is owned by a Republican.

    The choice of such an exclusive location will inevitably be fodder for the President’s Republican critics who decried his recent “date night” to New York with his wife, Michelle — an excursion that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars at a time of deep recession and soaring unemployment.

    The farm features a swimming pool, golf practice facilities — Mr Obama plays regularly — a basketball court, access to a private beach and a rental price tag of up to $50,000 (£30,000) a week.

    Worse than we thought, an ex soldier just phoned into LBC Radio.
    He served for six years did Iraq and Afghanistan.
    He said: when the lads come in from their duties, they have to hand over their protective equipment, for the next guys to wear.
    He added it’s always soaking wet.
    He was a foreign lad, and said the British lads don’t complain they just get on with it.

    And there’s me, hoping in anger they’d come home storm into Westminster sending it’s inhabitants on a one way flight to heaven or hell.

    The damned stiff upper lip!!!

    • Thanks for the comment, it certainly hasn’t come as a surprise to me but I am sure that millions of Americans are starting to realise that black/white makes no difference, a politician is a politician and the only interests they serve are their own.

      As for the soldiers, sadly we are too civilised for a military coup, but I am not sure how much more the army will put up with. Successive governments have slowly stripped it of any pride and worth, using phrases such as ‘punch above our weight,’ to disguise the fact that our army is tiny and poorly equipped.

      Also heard recently that the Merlin helicopters that I mentioned aren’t combat ready, and probably never will be! Ridiculous state of affairs.

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