Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Big Bird II.

In its original Staff Requirement, the Royal Navy specified some key performance markers for a Sea King replacement. The first was speed and endurance to allow operations at extended ranges and to permit quick reaction to, and attack on, submarine targets. The second feature was an integrated mission system to process data from a suite of sensors to give the helicopter an independent capability to search for, locate and attack targets. Versatility was a third key requirement to enable the helicopter to carry out a wide variety of roles and respond quickly to emergency tasking in flash points around the world. Agility was the final characteristic. The helicopter had to have sufficient power, maneuverability and control margins to allow safe operations from frigate-sized flight decks in demanding weather conditions, day and night.

That means you will be all alone thousands of miles from dry land, in the middle of winter, in the dark, during one of these. Hunting down Akulas, which tend not to come out to play on a millpond.

So they designed the thing big, strong, powerful, redundant and very, very clever. Look at those BERPed blades.

“So where is this going then?” I hear you sigh.

Well apart from an excuse to gaze a great bits of British kit. To marvel at what British blokes and bloktrice can do with a slide rule and log tables. They’ll certainly not be getting any money because that is syphoned of by the accountants and finance departments of their respective organisations. Apart from a chance to have a dig at the garlicswillers and spaghetti chompers, it is another attempt to answer where all the defence money went.

First though a bit of xenophobia.

Which nation was the premier designer and manufacturer of helicopters outside of the Soviet Union, and even then I’d argue that point, in the 1950s? That’s correct the blokes and bloktrices hammering bits of metal together in Nissen huts at assorted venues throughout UKplc powered by love of Blighty and Brooke Bond tea.

Who were we told to hand all the gear over to in a stealth deindustrialisation and re-serfing of the aboriginals programme. Yep the garlicswilling swine. That was the 1960s. In case you don’t remember these are the very programmes aimed at removing out tech.

In the mid 1960s there was a British forces requirement for a range of new helicopters, which was met by collaboration with the French company, Aerospatiale to produce three new designs, Puma, Gazelle and Lynx. Westland were to take design leadership for the Lynx, while Aerospatiale were to be responsible for Puma and Gazelle. Both companies were to take part in the development and manufacture of all the aircraft.

Guess who’s still got a thriving helicopter industry extant and guess who flips burgers these days?

However you don’t kill an industry overnight. So round two heaved into view in the 1980s. Remember?

Once again we were told to hand over more tech to the spaghetti eaters this time, who couldn’t design a flying machine for toffee. I know that last sentence is not true, but I’m in no mood to correct my biase! So stuff it.

Guess who are involved in all sorts of great leading edge heli tech and who are flogging gas and leky door to door?

That’s better or is it bitter.

Anyway as I’ve been banging on about before, do you consider what happened to all the cash that got spent on our military and nothing actually got delivered?

You know, fighter jets delivered years late with concrete guns, AAW destroyers with dud missiles years late, SSNs that hit rocks and are years late, carriers with no aircraft that are years late.

Notice the common thread here. No not years late. Massively over budget. All that cash for nothing. All our troops in a real shooting war being told to use harsh language ‘cos there are no bullets or workable assault rifles.

And after all the casualties and general fucking around, they are going to be made redundant. Don’t be getting all maudlin on me here, let's make something very clear about what happened after the Berlin Wall came down. The only street gang still standing decided that it could make use of the massive NATO weapon stocks to go round the planet and steal stuff. They had to do it promptly though before another gang turned up.

That’s what we’ve had. That’s why no kit has been bought. The assets have been sweated in stealing stuff. Worn out and now to be scrapped.

Again I smell that someone has been told to break up something British. Oh of course no need to speculate. Tony “Quisling” Blair and Gordon “Haw Haw” Brown.

So here’s grist to the mill. The Canucks are picking up 9 of the world’s most expensive helicopters, gratia, and are going to use them for spare parts. Look at those numbers. All that money spent for nothing.

Where did it go?

I’ll wager a guess at somewhere like this around 1999. The guys that pocketted the loot are staying off shore, safe and sound until the current calamity blows over. Even if it takes decades it is what their families have done for centuries.