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Posted: 7/16/2010 10:31:46 AM EDT
Protecting rotorcraft

Technology only goes so far in stopping small-arms, RPG fire
By Joe Gould - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jul 16, 2010 10:41:38 EDT
 
Four American soldiers were killed when a NATO helicopter was shot down using two rocket-propelled grenades in a midday attack in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. The Black Hawk, attempting to pick up a British casualty, crashed in the Sangin district bazaar.

The June 9 attack was the latest in a string of RPG helicopter shoot-downs. In fact, the RPG is responsible for felling scores of military rotorcraft of all types, according to news accounts. As the Army prepares nearly triple the number of air assets in Afghanistan, the cheap, easy RPG used in the famous ‘Black Hawk Down’ crash in Mogadishu, Somalia, remains the weapon of choice for militants, Army officials say.

There have been 375 rotorcraft losses, with 496 fatalities through September. Of those, 19 percent are attributable to hostile action and the rest to mishaps in and out of combat, Mark Couch, of the Institute for Defense Analyses, and Dennis Lindell, program manager for the Joint Aircraft Survivability Program Office, stated in a May report to Congress.

Precise numbers are unavailable due to their sensitivity; however, Couch and Lindell said in a subsequent report for the rotorcraft community that the majority of hostile-fire losses are attributable to RPGs and Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, or MANPADS, which are infrared-guided, shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

“We have had aircraft shot down either by a combination of small-arms fire and RPGs or massed RPGs, of which one or two or more might hit an aircraft,” said retired Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, the former director of Army aviation in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7. “They’re a poor man’s weapon, and they’re available throughout the world.”

Schloesser recalled during his time commanding the 101st Airborne Division in eastern Afghanistan, a Chinook that was felled when an RPG struck its aft pylon. The pilot crash-landed on top of an abandoned farm building in the high mountains, escaping serious injury.

“There are other shoot-downs where that wasn’t the case, so it has always been a significant factor,” he said of the RPG threat.

With the battlefield in mind, the Army has accelerated its aircraft survivability efforts to focus on the ubiquitous “dumb” threats of small-arms fire and RPG’s.

“RPGs are as plentiful as heavy machine guns; they’re cheap, they’re easy and they’re all over the battlefield, so you don’t get away from them,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jon Larue, one of the officials spearheading the Army’s technology effort. Larue is an action officer with the Aviation Division of the Deputy the Chief of Staff G-3/5/7, the division responsible for managing and integrating the modernization process for Army aviation.

“There’s no warning, there’s no defense that you can put up to stop a guy from shooting at you, or detect it until he’s fired the first round.”

‘Cost, ease of use, and lethality’
Common to conflicts since the Vietnam War, the Soviet-made RPG-7 was once a mainstay of the Iraqi army and is now a favorite of insurgents, according to report by George J. Mordica II, an analyst for the Center for Army Lessons Learned.

“The real advantage of this weapon is the cost, ease of use, and lethality,” Mordica writes. “The disadvantage of conducting a close combat attack is the danger of immediate retribution from a superior force. In Iraq, that disadvantage is diminished because the attacker is often willing to give up his life in an effort to create casualties and political unrest.”

A shoulder-fired, muzzle-loaded anti-tank and anti-personnel grenade launcher, the RPG-7 fires grenades with a an effective range of 300 meters against moving targets and a maximum reach of about 1,000 meters. The grenades travel at 200 meters per second and detonate with a bursting radius of 4 meters. One variety self-destructs after flying for 4.5 seconds.

“The most effective use of the RPG-7 against helicopters has been to use the self-destructing round to being down a platform with shrapnel,” Mordica writes. “Engaging from 800 meters away will allow for the 920 meters self-destruct to activate and kill the aircraft.

“Obviously, this technique takes a lot of practice to be effective, but the results of RPG-7 attacks against Soviet helicopters in the mountains of Afghanistan prove that it can be effectively trained.”

Writing in a 1998 issue of Infantry magazine, Lester W. Grau, of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., described how the mujahedeen in Afghanistan would use RPGs to attack Soviet transport helicopters loaded with troops.

“In Afghanistan, the Mujahideen found that the best anti-helicopter tactics were anti-helicopter ambushes,” Grau writes. “The first variant was to identify likely landing zones and mine them. Then the Mujahideen would position machine guns and RPGs around the landing zone. As the helicopter landed, massed RPG and machine gun fire would tear into the aircraft.”

Grau pegged the RPG as the perfect weapon in an asymmetrical fight: “The chances are, whenever a U.S. soldier is deployed to a trouble spot, the RPG-7 will be part of the local landscape.”

“It’s very comparable to IEDs,” said Schloesser, “in that our sophistication sometimes does not lend itself to an easy solution in the case of a poor man’s weapon that’s commonly available, that’s relatively unsophisticated, and yet devastating en masse and for a relatively well-trained operator.”

Infrared countermeasures
Technology to combat the threat of sophisticated infrared-guided surface-to-air missiles has come further than efforts to counter “dumb” bullets and RPGs.

Many U.S. military aircraft are equipped with these systems: the Common Missile Warning System, which uses ultraviolet sensors to detect missile launches, track them and launch flares that confuse the missile’s infrared seeker, and Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, which uses jamming lasers to misdirect infrared-guided missiles.

Matt Schroeder, manager of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said funding of these systems has been “money well spent,” as MANPADS have appeared in arms caches in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan.

Supersonic, subsonic rounds
Meanwhile, Defense and Army officials are taking aim at RPG and small-arms fire attacks against helicopters. Until recently, the Army’s main investment against this has been aircraft survivability equipment like adding additional armor, redundant critical systems and more crash-worthy fuel tanks.

“All of the aircraft survival equipment systems on board to date that we’ve put a lot of money into, both for Iraq and Afghanistan, have been oriented toward the surface-to-air missile threat, IR-guided [missiles], and those systems have done yeoman’s work preventing that from happening,” Schloesser said.

Because there is no system yet that can divert “dumb” bullets or RPGs, the focus has been to determine the origin of the fire and alert pilots.

“Now we’re taking a different focus in recent years, to try to give the pilot that situational awareness to let him know he’s being fired at,” said Ray Gentzyel, chief of Army G-3/5/7’s aviation systems division. “Now we’re trying to give him an indication in the cockpit so that he can use his maneuvers for survivability.”

The DARPA and BBN Technologies have been developing a device that detects such attacks and locates the shooter, and it was installed on a UH-60L Blackhawk for testing in February. In March congressional testimony, DARPA director Regina E. Dugan said several more systems would be deployed Afghanistan for operational testing.

Called the Helicopter Alert and Threat Termination system, or HALTT-A, the system uses 16 sensors mounted on the helicopter’s fuselage to detect the supersonic shock wave caused by firing bullet.

BBN also makes the similar Boomerang ground acoustic shot detection system, which also hones in on the sounds of bullets being fired. That system indicates the “o’clock” azimuth of incoming small-arms fire, announces that direction using a recorded voice and indicates the range and elevation on an LED screen display.

Larue said situational awareness is crucial so that pilots can take evasive action to protect themselves, their passengers and the airframe. Often, aviators are unaware they have been shot at until they inspect the airframe after landing.

“We don’t want a pilot to walk around the aircraft and say, ‘Holy smokes, I was fired at because I have three or four bullet holes in his tail boom,’” Larue said. “We want him to know exactly when that took place so he can react, so he doesn’t have to come home and find out an hour after the mission.”

Because the RPG-7 fires with smoke and a flash, but no supersonic bang, it is tough to detect with acoustic sensors alone. Army officials said detecting the ballistic threat presents the nascent technology with a complex problem probably best met by a combination of ultraviolet, infrared and acoustic sensors.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:40:15 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/16/2010 10:49:46 AM EDT by KILLERB6]
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:42:33 AM EDT
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:48:23 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.



Unless you're the guy on the ground looking for RESULTS.

For obvious reasons ATTACKING helos are not hit very often...big fat slow ones that are taking-off/landing are, though.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:49:59 AM EDT
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.


This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:50:48 AM EDT
I was under the impression that Apaches took enough effective direct fire in OIF I that many were questioning their ability to operate in front of the FLOT.

True?
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:53:20 AM EDT
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.



+1

20% kill rate....thats worth worring about, but the other 80% needs asap attention.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:59:44 AM EDT
Originally Posted By CWDraco:
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.



+1

20% kill rate....thats worth worring about, but the other 80% needs asap attention.



Flying at 100 kts or more less then 30 feet off the deck...  add to that these helos are being used HARD, shit breaks and you have zero time to react and no where to go.  And then there are wires and trees and poles, etc to avoid when flying nap of the earth at high speed in less then perfect conditions.

50% of helo losses in Vietnam were not combat related either.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 11:00:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/16/2010 11:00:41 AM EDT by KILLERB6]
Not a 20% kill rate...there are literally thousands upon thousands of rounds (SMARMS & RPG) fired at coalition aircraft...rarely is one hit unless your among that group that flies too low.

Losing 71 aircraft between two wars in 8+ years is not good, but it's not bad.

Iraq had a high missile threat and most of our losses were prior to MWS and a major tactical adjustment...since then...missile threat pretty much mitigated.  Afghanistan never had a significant missile threat since WE have been here (Soviet era, yes).
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 11:05:34 AM EDT



Originally Posted By hondaciv:



Originally Posted By KILLERB6:

375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.



So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).



Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.




This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  





 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 11:13:37 AM EDT
Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By hondaciv:
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.


This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  

 


It's the heat, altitude and terrain...more environmental training is needed.  No matter what the performance of your aircraft, you'll find it's limits (and/or yours) here in 'stan.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 12:00:44 PM EDT
And they think the Osprey is a better platform why?

I live due east of MCAS-Yuma. My house is right up against the mountains.  When the Ospreys drop in over the mountains, they look like a flying dump truck. And you can "feel" them coming way before you ever see them. I look at them sometimes and am just amazed at how much of a wet dream for an RPG gunner they appear to be.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 12:07:33 PM EDT
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.



Unless you're the guy on the ground looking for RESULTS.

For obvious reasons ATTACKING helos are not hit very often...big fat slow ones that are taking-off/landing are, though.


Been that guy.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 12:10:20 PM EDT
Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By hondaciv:
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.


This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  

 

Do you know what they are doing wrong?

One area specifically is the use of Chinooks as logistics birds flying between C-130 capable airfields.

the Army uses helos for the wrong purposes because we are forced to.
We tried to address that with the C-27.
Yeah, about that...

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 12:10:54 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Eggzz:
And they think the Osprey is a better platform why?

I live due east of MCAS-Yuma. My house is right up against the mountains.  When the Ospreys drop in over the mountains, they look like a flying dump truck. And you can "feel" them coming way before you ever see them. I look at them sometimes and am just amazed at how much of a wet dream for an RPG gunner they appear to be.


Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:13:55 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.




I don't know Sylvan, we did a pretty good job protecting the ground troops when we were flying Cobras in Vietnam.  We could fire "Danger Close" to less than 50 meters with our 17 pounders.  On each Cobra we could carry up to 78 of those rockets that had the explosive capability of a 105mm artillery round along with 250-40mm grenades and 2,500-7.62mm minigun rounds for the turret.  There were always at least two of us in a flight and most of the time there were three us, all with the same load-out.  The troops seemed to appreciate it, as we never had to buy the beer when we were in town wearing our unit patch.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:35:45 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Snake_driver:
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.




I don't know Sylvan, we did a pretty good job protecting the ground troops when we were flying Cobras in Vietnam.  We could fire "Danger Close" to less than 50 meters with our 17 pounders.  On each Cobra we could carry up to 78 of those rockets that had the explosive capability of a 105mm artillery round along with 250-40mm grenades and 2,500-7.62mm minigun rounds for the turret.  There were always at least two of us in a flight and most of the time there were three us, all with the same load-out.  The troops seemed to appreciate it, as we never had to buy the beer when we were in town wearing our unit patch.

Not saying you don't do a good job, I am saying we take unnecessary risks by using rotary as a primary CAS asset not to mention as a theater airlift asset.
Rotary is slower, loses power quicker at altitude and heat, and is more vulnerable to ground fire as compared to fixed wing.


Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:39:26 PM EDT
How are they able to do that? They putting proximity devices on the rockets?
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:40:57 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ArmyInfantryVet:
How are they able to do that? They putting proximity devices on the rockets?

Auto self-destruct at about 950M.  Built in.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:42:50 PM EDT
Saw on Defense Industry Daily that the USAF is or will be putting the 30MM from the Apache in the AC-130 to replace the 25MM and 40MM cannons.  It offers better ammunition selection and the possibility of a true proximity fuze in the next five years.

Why doesn't the Army have these?
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:42:51 PM EDT
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By hondaciv:
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.


This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  

 


It's the heat, altitude and terrain...more environmental training is needed.  No matter what the performance of your aircraft, you'll find it's limits (and/or yours) here in 'stan.


i asked about going to HATS in colorado before my unit deploys in 2012 and i was told that only 2 or 3 pilots would be able to go, then they would come back and teach the rest of the pilots. personally, i think that's bullshit. every pilot going to the stan should go through a high altitude training course.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:43:47 PM EDT
The 375 losses, is that a total lose or just a partial loss and they rebuild them.

I did not think we had that many helicopters to spare.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 1:52:29 PM EDT




Originally Posted By Sylvan:

Gee,

Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.





Actually Apaches are fucking awesome CAS aircraft. Having worked with them and having the pilot tell us on the radio what his weapons loadout was, my jaw just about dropped to the floor with the amount of firepower those things carry.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 3:46:52 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ArmyInfantryVet:

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.


Actually Apaches are fucking awesome CAS aircraft. Having worked with them and having the pilot tell us on the radio what his weapons loadout was, my jaw just about dropped to the floor with the amount of firepower those things carry.


That they carry for 1 hour.
I worked with them as well.  When I had them, they were magnificent.  But for the other 80% of the time, they weren't.
If all battles would limit themselves to 1 hour of duration, I see no reason for anything better.  In COIN, the magic kill box of mass destruction in 30 minutes simply doesn't exist.

Now, max out their 30mm and put 4 external fuel tanks on them, maybe we can work something out.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 5:29:08 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Originally Posted By ArmyInfantryVet:

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.


Actually Apaches are fucking awesome CAS aircraft. Having worked with them and having the pilot tell us on the radio what his weapons loadout was, my jaw just about dropped to the floor with the amount of firepower those things carry.


That they carry for 1 hour.
I worked with them as well.  When I had them, they were magnificent.  But for the other 80% of the time, they weren't.
If all battles would limit themselves to 1 hour of duration, I see no reason for anything better.  In COIN, the magic kill box of mass destruction in 30 minutes simply doesn't exist.

Now, max out their 30mm and put 4 external fuel tanks on them, maybe we can work something out.



Sounds to me like they forgot the tactics we developed for providing heliborne CAS to the troops over 40 years ago.  I can remember many time arriving overhead with a fireteam of Cobras to a prolonged firefight and staying engaged with the enemy for 10 hours or more.  We would rotate fireteams back and forth between forward rearm / refuel points located nearby so that our suppressive fire was always available to the ground commander as long as he needed it.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 6:44:23 PM EDT
Originally Posted By cookhj:
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By hondaciv:
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.


This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  

 


It's the heat, altitude and terrain...more environmental training is needed.  No matter what the performance of your aircraft, you'll find it's limits (and/or yours) here in 'stan.


i asked about going to HATS in colorado before my unit deploys in 2012 and i was told that only 2 or 3 pilots would be able to go, then they would come back and teach the rest of the pilots. personally, i think that's bullshit. every pilot going to the stan should go through a high altitude training course.


HAATS is the answer...I didn't say it earlier because I didn't think m/any would recognize the term.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 6:48:59 PM EDT
In other news, war has risks, story at 11.  
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 6:55:24 PM EDT
Google "battle of Najif" and read the narrative of the battle that took place in 2003 if memory serves.  Thirty two (32) Longbow Apaches attacked as a group and were turned back by ground forces with small arms and maybe an RPG or two. No MANPADS, AAA, etc.  Every Apache was damaged, and at least one was shot down.  The Commanche was in big trouble before that, but the battle of the Najif was the nail in the coffin for that machine which was cancelled outright shortly after that.  All the stealth in the world isn't going to do you much good if the bad guys can see you coming and you're in AK range.  No more $20M attack helicopters.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 7:03:02 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
Saw on Defense Industry Daily that the USAF is or will be putting the 30MM from the Apache in the AC-130 to replace the 25MM and 40MM cannons.  It offers better ammunition selection and the possibility of a true proximity fuze in the next five years.

Why doesn't the Army have these?


Not the one from the Apache and those plans have been canceled.

This was the 30MM was tried.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 7:05:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/16/2010 7:05:52 PM EDT by Pegasus6]





Originally Posted By Sylvan:





Now, max out their 30mm and put 4 external fuel tanks on them, maybe we can work something out.








Not nearly sexy looking enough looking.





 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 7:12:23 PM EDT
Rotary wing has its place but I am a big fan of the AC-130 and have worked witht hose guys as well as army aviation (I'm Navy Aircrew) everybody brings something to the table that the other guy doesnt have.  We need it all and until some super fantastic lightwieght composite armor comes out helo's will be vulneable even with a system that tells them they are getting shot at..........Missile Threat Request Dispense!!!!! at that point its probably already too late.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 7:30:41 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Snake_driver:
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Originally Posted By ArmyInfantryVet:

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.


Actually Apaches are fucking awesome CAS aircraft. Having worked with them and having the pilot tell us on the radio what his weapons loadout was, my jaw just about dropped to the floor with the amount of firepower those things carry.


That they carry for 1 hour.
I worked with them as well.  When I had them, they were magnificent.  But for the other 80% of the time, they weren't.
If all battles would limit themselves to 1 hour of duration, I see no reason for anything better.  In COIN, the magic kill box of mass destruction in 30 minutes simply doesn't exist.

Now, max out their 30mm and put 4 external fuel tanks on them, maybe we can work something out.



Sounds to me like they forgot the tactics we developed for providing heliborne CAS to the troops over 40 years ago.  I can remember many time arriving overhead with a fireteam of Cobras to a prolonged firefight and staying engaged with the enemy for 10 hours or more.  We would rotate fireteams back and forth between forward rearm / refuel points located nearby so that our suppressive fire was always available to the ground commander as long as he needed it.



Could some of the issue between your experience in Vietnam and what is going on in the current theatres be line of sight? I would think being in the desert or mountains would make spotting the helicopters farther out/sooner giving more time to prepare and track them longer as they move away.  

Having seen gun cam footage here and there from Vietnam I know the jungle isn't real dense but still would limit ones line of sight.

As far as the majority of other aircraft lost to paraphrase a retired phrog pilot I know "...the thing is always trying to kill you and every landing is just a controlled crash"
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 7:51:02 PM EDT



Originally Posted By KILLERB6:



Originally Posted By cookhj:


Originally Posted By KILLERB6:


Originally Posted By BillofRights:




Originally Posted By hondaciv:


Originally Posted By KILLERB6:

375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.



So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).



Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.




This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  



 




It's the heat, altitude and terrain...more environmental training is needed.  No matter what the performance of your aircraft, you'll find it's limits (and/or yours) here in 'stan.




i asked about going to HATS in colorado before my unit deploys in 2012 and i was told that only 2 or 3 pilots would be able to go, then they would come back and teach the rest of the pilots. personally, i think that's bullshit. every pilot going to the stan should go through a high altitude training course.




HAATS is the answer...I didn't say it earlier because I didn't think m/any would recognize the term.




http://www.gazette.com/articles/road-101018-gold-military.html



 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 8:06:09 PM EDT
Originally Posted By skipsan:
Google "battle of Najif" and read the narrative of the battle that took place in 2003 if memory serves.  Thirty two (32) Longbow Apaches attacked as a group and were turned back by ground forces with small arms and maybe an RPG or two. No MANPADS, AAA, etc.  Every Apache was damaged, and at least one was shot down.  The Commanche was in big trouble before that, but the battle of the Najif was the nail in the coffin for that machine which was cancelled outright shortly after that.  All the stealth in the world isn't going to do you much good if the bad guys can see you coming and you're in AK range.  No more $20M attack helicopters.


For goodness sake, if you're going to play the role of historical expert, at least get the name of a major city right - its NAJAF, not Najif.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 8:08:55 PM EDT
Helicopters is straight from hell and I don't mess wif 'em.  
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 8:29:12 PM EDT
Flushing out landing zones with gas should work, and throw in Napalm and cluster munitions.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 8:35:51 PM EDT
Originally Posted By fadedsun:
Flushing out landing zones with gas should work, and throw in Napalm and cluster munitions.



Depending on the submunition, a cluster bomb or DPICM bomblet has a 1-4% dud rate...
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:07:19 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/16/2010 9:14:28 PM EDT by UH60DRIVER]
The Cobra is awesome.  
The Apache is awesome too, I do know what they are capable of.  They are the best attack Aircraft in the world for close air support.  You may argue all you want.  I want them with me, then the 58 drivers when go out.  The only two AFCT that the Air Force has that I think are worth their weight are the gunships and the A10.  I have not seen an A10 here.  Maybe they are down in South...I don't see them out East.
We (Americans) have the best helicopters for war.
There is nothing better what we have.
Walk anywhere in the world with 80lbs of gear on your back, 115+ degree heat, at 5000 + DA for several hours? If you have, I am sure you would have rather had a helo ride instead.
Dust landings are extreme.  This is where a majority of equipment gets dinged up.

We do use Vietnam and the Russian Tactics that they had used here before we introduced the Manpads.  
Afghanistan is not the mythical beast that can not be beat.  The USSR had these people beat until we showed up to the party.  Beating them is easy, teaching the animals to act civil or western is impossible.  The city folks are okay, not good, but okay.
Those sensors may be fancy and all, but when I'm at my enroute altitude I don't care, I am already making various minute changes in my direction and altitude every few seconds.  RP inbound, I can't jink and jive, I have to be a solider and do the insert.  
These sensors are a wonderful idea, but they are not going to change how the mission is done.  Your countries pilots know what they are doing.  WE do it every day and night of our lives...kinda, we get a day off every 14...  We have families and guns back home we miss.  
"Its a great idea, but it aint gonna change nutin."

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:13:02 PM EDT
Helos, the NEW fighter jocks, and deservedly so.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:13:08 PM EDT
Originally Posted By skipsan:
Google "battle of Najif" and read the narrative of the battle that took place in 2003 if memory serves.  Thirty two (32) Longbow Apaches attacked as a group and were turned back by ground forces with small arms and maybe an RPG or two. No MANPADS, AAA, etc.  Every Apache was damaged, and at least one was shot down.  The Commanche was in big trouble before that, but the battle of the Najif was the nail in the coffin for that machine which was cancelled outright shortly after that.  All the stealth in the world isn't going to do you much good if the bad guys can see you coming and you're in AK range.  No more $20M attack helicopters.


Najaf is where the Iraqi AAA school was.  What do you think they were going up against?  You are way wrong.

http://books.google.com/books?id=JyA9V2MvmBAC&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=najaf+aaa+apache&source=bl&ots=sdmmviCyib&sig=bJ_g_W5hy6l0Vy6ZrhpRh3IaxdM&hl=en&ei=kDtBTK6RI82XOPbV4ZMN&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=najaf%20aaa%20apache&f=false
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:25:21 PM EDT
Originally Posted By UH60DRIVER:
The Cobra is awesome.  
The Apache is awesome too, I do know what they are capable of.  They are the best attack Aircraft in the world for close air support.  You may argue all you want.  I want them with me, then the 58 drivers when go out.  The only two AFCT that the Air Force has that I think are worth their weight are the gunships and the A10.  I have not seen an A10 here.  Maybe they are down in South...I don't see them out East.
We (Americans) have the best helicopters for war.
There is nothing better what we have.
Walk anywhere in the world with 80lbs of gear on your back, 115+ degree heat, at 5000 + DA for several hours? If you have, I am sure you would have rather had a helo ride instead.
Dust landings are extreme.  This is where a majority of equipment gets dinged up.

We do use Vietnam and the Russian Tactics that they had used here before we introduced the Manpads.  
Afghanistan is not the mythical beast that can not be beat.  The USSR had these people beat until we showed up to the party.  Beating them is easy, teaching the animals to act civil or western is impossible.  The city folks are okay, not good, but okay.
Those sensors may be fancy and all, but when I'm at my enroute altitude I don't care, I am already making various minute changes in my direction and altitude every few seconds.  RP inbound, I can't jink and jive, I have to be a solider and do the insert.  
These sensors are a wonderful idea, but they are not going to change how the mission is done.  Your countries pilots know what they are doing.  WE do it every day and night of our lives...kinda, we get a day off every 14...  We have families and guns back home we miss.  
"Its a great idea, but it aint gonna change nutin."



You 'da man.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:27:48 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Snake_driver:
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Originally Posted By ArmyInfantryVet:

Originally Posted By Sylvan:
Gee,
Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.


Actually Apaches are fucking awesome CAS aircraft. Having worked with them and having the pilot tell us on the radio what his weapons loadout was, my jaw just about dropped to the floor with the amount of firepower those things carry.


That they carry for 1 hour.
I worked with them as well.  When I had them, they were magnificent.  But for the other 80% of the time, they weren't.
If all battles would limit themselves to 1 hour of duration, I see no reason for anything better.  In COIN, the magic kill box of mass destruction in 30 minutes simply doesn't exist.

Now, max out their 30mm and put 4 external fuel tanks on them, maybe we can work something out.



Sounds to me like they forgot the tactics we developed for providing heliborne CAS to the troops over 40 years ago.  I can remember many time arriving overhead with a fireteam of Cobras to a prolonged firefight and staying engaged with the enemy for 10 hours or more.  We would rotate fireteams back and forth between forward rearm / refuel points located nearby so that our suppressive fire was always available to the ground commander as long as he needed it.


maintenance.
They only fly in 2 gunship lifts and they only had 2 up in the whole province.
I requested additional and got nothing.  and they won't use blackhawks for CAS/ISR so I got my one hour at a shot and then nothing.  They had to break contact while we were still in a firefight at about 150-200M
Now, give me an OV-10 and we can make some magic.

Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:38:01 PM EDT
Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By hondaciv:
Originally Posted By KILLERB6:
375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.

So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).

Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.


This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  

 


The real problem in the 'stan is the altitude.  Almost all our Helo's (except the '58) can fly on one engine - at sea level, on a normal day.  Lose power in the Heat and altitude in the 'stan, and you're not making it back, you're going down somewhere.

Look at the stats - 375 combat losses, 489 casualties.  A lot of those birds made emergency landings somewhere they could never leave - but the crew and passengers could, and did.

Those mechanical failures are a product of the environment.  A lot of those birds make it back home in another theater.

And fixing the mechanical problems means you need parts.  The company that made the engines needs them back, so they can figure out what went wrong.  That just doesn't happen in a combat zone, it can't.  That makes fixing the reliability problems a real bear, because you only know what happened to the ones that get back.

The other problem is that many of these Helos, because of the conditions, are being pushed harder than ever before.  So you have engines operating - constantly - at very high power levels, higher than what they have seen over the normal service life of the engines.  That causes problems that haven't been seen before, or causes what is normally a high-time failure mode to happen at a much lower time.  

But at the end of the day, the real problem is that you don't know, a lot of the time, what brought the A/C down.  You just know it went down, they got the people off, and then it got blown to hell.
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:40:31 PM EDT



Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:


I was under the impression that Apaches took enough effective direct fire in OIF I that many were questioning their ability to operate in front of the FLOT.



True?

Meh.





What you say is true in that Apaches from (IIRC) the 101st went in alone and without support on a strike mission and they got shot up pretty bad.  



But this way of using them was not really the way they were originally designed to be used, and there was a lot of urban terrain involved that gave the Iraqi's somewhat of an advantage compared to what WarPac troops in the woods or plains of Europe would have had.



I don't think the problem was so much the Apache as much as how the Apache was used in that particular mission.  They are very durable and can take quite a beating.  For more information, read 'Not a Good Day to Die' about Operation Anaconda in the early part of the Afghanistan mission.  Great book, and they get into some detail about the Apache's there.
-K



 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:42:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/16/2010 10:11:09 PM EDT by Special-K]





Originally Posted By Eggzz:



And they think the Osprey is a better platform why?





I live due east of MCAS-Yuma. My house is right up against the mountains.  When the Ospreys drop in over the mountains, they look like a flying dump truck. And you can "feel" them coming way before you ever see them. I look at them sometimes and am just amazed at how much of a wet dream for an RPG gunner they appear to be.

The Osprey flies higher, faster, farther, and IIRC carries more cargo than most 'copters.  It's not a good fit as a gun ship, but in other roles it has some real advantages.
-K





 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:43:14 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Sylvan:

Now, give me an OV-10 and we can make some magic.



Boeing was talking about it.  But it would be ~2-3 years to get the line back up, and it's only worth it for a significant run of Aircraft - probably at least 100.

I don't know how many flyable OV-10's there are right now that aren't in service somewhere that have much airframe life on them... but it isn't many.

That said, we could get Super Tucano's or even, god forbid, AT-6's, in a hurry, because the line is open.

Air Tractor also has a concept for a modified AT-802 crop-duster/water bomber.  10 hour endurance, 8k payload.



(For the record, I'd rather OV-10's, but I'm biased)
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:43:47 PM EDT



Originally Posted By Sylvan:



Originally Posted By BillofRights:




Originally Posted By hondaciv:


Originally Posted By KILLERB6:

375 losses...of which 71 were due to enemy fire.



So if only 19% are due to hostile action, it looks like additional aircrew training would be more effective in preventing losses (anyone remember the Pareto Principle?).



Good luck "reacting to" (trying to dodge) an RPG...even if you knew where it was coming from BEFORE it launched, let alone afterward.




This is nearly exactly what I was thinking.
81% of losses due to CFIT or mechanical issues.   That is not good at all.  The culture of Army aviation needs to change.  



 


Do you know what they are doing wrong?



One area specifically is the use of Chinooks as logistics birds flying between C-130 capable airfields.



the Army uses helos for the wrong purposes because we are forced to.

We tried to address that with the C-27.

Yeah, about that...









Yeah, about that......





Change we can believe in.
-K



 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 9:45:28 PM EDT



Originally Posted By Sylvan:



Originally Posted By Snake_driver:


Originally Posted By Sylvan:

Gee,

Sucks when you are forced to use rotary wing for CAS.









I don't know Sylvan, we did a pretty good job protecting the ground troops when we were flying Cobras in Vietnam.  We could fire "Danger Close" to less than 50 meters with our 17 pounders.  On each Cobra we could carry up to 78 of those rockets that had the explosive capability of a 105mm artillery round along with 250-40mm grenades and 2,500-7.62mm minigun rounds for the turret.  There were always at least two of us in a flight and most of the time there were three us, all with the same load-out.  The troops seemed to appreciate it, as we never had to buy the beer when we were in town wearing our unit patch.



Not saying you don't do a good job, I am saying we take unnecessary risks by using rotary as a primary CAS asset not to mention as a theater airlift asset.

Rotary is slower, loses power quicker at altitude and heat, and is more vulnerable to ground fire as compared to fixed wing.






Is this use of rotary wing as primary CAS a result of McChrystal/0bama's ROE's?
-K



 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:02:58 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/16/2010 10:13:29 PM EDT by Special-K]





Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:



Saw on Defense Industry Daily that the USAF is or will be putting the 30MM from the Apache in the AC-130 to replace the 25MM and 40MM cannons.  It offers better ammunition selection and the possibility of a true proximity fuze in the next five years.





Why doesn't the Army have these?

I have a number of thoughts on this matter.





Regarding the USAF, I think it's a bad idea to go to the M230 from the Apache.  There are more options (and more powerful rounds) available for 40mm than 30mm - especially the 30mm round from the Apache - and they are available today.  The Swedes have been using them for a while.  Very cool stuff really.  My understanding is that the 40mm guns the USAF uses are totally worn out L60 models from decades ago.  I don't understand why don't just buy new L-70 models like the Swedes use on their CV-9040 IFV's.  They fire the same round as the L-60 IIRC, and it would allow use of all the cool new 3P ammo currently in use.  A 40mm round would pack a lot more punch per round than a 30mm (or 35mm for that matter) and would also result in a lower cost overall - the rounds are expensive afterall.





Here are two Youtube videos with the CV-9040 and the L70 40mm 3P round.  I think (if they can get them to fit and recoil isn't too severe for the airframe) this would be better than a 30mm for the AC-130's.  They also have 35mm rounds with the same basic capabilities.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKdwuOxYRI4


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7WqCbIpbjk&feature=related
As far as the Army having these, I have read (thought I don't know for sure) that the CROWS system used on the Stryker and other vehicles can handle the M-230 cannon from the Apache.  I think the Army would do very well with them on the Stryker, though there may be issues with ammo capacity (ready or stored).  I'm sure that could be fixed though.  Other vehicles would probably be suitable for a 30mm too if they can indeed get them to work.
-K





 
Link Posted: 7/16/2010 10:42:11 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
Originally Posted By fadedsun:
Flushing out landing zones with gas should work, and throw in Napalm and cluster munitions.



Depending on the submunition, a cluster bomb or DPICM bomblet has a 1-4% dud rate...


Sure, but I think the other 96% will make up for it.

Not too worried about 1-4%.
Link Posted: 7/17/2010 5:40:55 AM EDT
Originally Posted By fadedsun:
Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
Originally Posted By fadedsun:
Flushing out landing zones with gas should work, and throw in Napalm and cluster munitions.



Depending on the submunition, a cluster bomb or DPICM bomblet has a 1-4% dud rate...


Sure, but I think the other 96% will make up for it.

Not too worried about 1-4%.


I am if I have to land in that LZ
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