Friday, June 15, 2007

The Great HH-47 Debate

I have no dog in this fight. But I do find the on-going squabble about the viability of the CH-47 Chinook as a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) platform somewhat interesting. Today, I found an interesting piece on this continuing debate HERE. There's even more HERE and finally HERE.

It's interesting to me at least, that the loudest voices against the CH-47 have never flown it, while I'm sure they could positively identify it correctly 9 out of 10 times. Here's a sample of what passes for reasoned debate on this subject...

...I’m not sure what happened with CSAR-X, but the scuttlebutt has it that General Brown and the Army C-47(sic) lobby got to the USAF—perhaps a quid pro quo for LCA, for Predator orbits, who knows. But, it was a very, very odd selection and choice. You should see the pictures of C-47(sic) brownout compared to the other two, both of which have specific rotor designs that cause a “doughnut” of clear ground around the chopper that would actually help a rescue by obscuring the helo and the downed pilot from the enemy if they were close-by.

…The C-47(sic) decision seems odd, because somehow the old C-47(sic) mafia (including Brown) somehow got their way at the 11th hour (the C-47(sic) wasn’t even a competitor until late, which also has an aroma about it)...

I don't know about you but I wasn't aware that a Gooney Bird could there nothing those airplanes can't do? If a person is so lazy that they can't get the designation of the aircraft they are complaining about correct how the hell am I supposed to take anything they say seriously? So we're to believe that the selection of this aircraft was solely based on some backroom deal involving UAV's , a fixed wing transport plane and some unmentioned pictures of the secretary of the Air Force with barnyard animals?

NASA R4D AKA... C-47

Finally there is this puzzleing statement from an AFSOC veteran...

I think the bigger issue is who flies helos? If the Army flies them then we should expect that they will be misused and shot down more often. Simple matter of different cultures, training and what kind of competency the crew has…

First of all, I'm kind of stoopid being in the Army and all, but I think I've just been insulted. Second if you stop and look at total hours flown, since day 1 of this thing losses per airframe hour are quite small especially considering the environment the aircraft are being flown in (11 AH-64s lost to enemy action in 5 years of combat (source FLIGHTFAX)). And third, I seem to recall that the USAF came begging to the Army in the 90's taking every Warrant Officer who would come to fly their helicopters for them...half the Pave Low pilots in the USAF right now are former Army Aviatiors (I may be a bit off on that last one...but what the HELL, I was on a roll). Finally talk to the operators and ask them who they would want to fly them on a pitch black night, I'm sure the answer you'd get rymes with Nightstalkers...and those aren't Air Force dudes. Remember you started it, un-named AFSOC guy.

People can talk about the suitability of airframes all day long, and that's should be done. But it serves no purpose at all to start inter-service warfare in a time of armed conflict...these boobs need to get out more often. Ultimately I want what I would hope everyone involved would want, the best aircraft for the mission...we'll see if that happens.

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