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Wednesday, 28 July 2010 12:54

Former head of Army raised concerns about UK helicopter fleet

The former head of the Army warned that the UK's helicopter fleet in Iraq was  "inadequate" and "creaking badly", newly-released documents have revealed.

General Sir Mike Jackson told the head of the Armed Forces that air transport provision for getting troops and equipment to and from the Middle East was even worse while his successor Gen Sir Richard Dannatt told the Iraq Inquiry that the army had come close to "seizing up" over Iraq.

Gen Jackson, Chief of the General Staff from 2003 to 2006, raised the concerns after visiting British forces in Iraq in late 2005.

In a report to General Sir Michael Walker, then-Chief of the Defence Staff, he repeated concerns expressed by commanders on the ground about problems with helicopters.

He said it was proving almost impossible to meet requirements for troops to return home part way through their tours on "R&R" breaks, which had an impact on the effectiveness of the Army Division serving in Iraq.

An extract from his report, dated October 2005, was declassified and released by the Iraq Inquiry.

Gen Jackson wrote: "Our support helicopter fleet is creaking badly. JHF-I (Joint Helicopter Force Iraq) is struggling to meet its tasks even with rigorous prioritisation ... The overall picture is one of an SH (support helicopter) force ill-matched to support current operations.

"If our SH capability is inadequate, our AT (air transport) fleet is worse. The air bridge to theatre is now so fragile that sustaining an efficient R&R schedule is nigh impossible. Quite apart from the morale effect of inordinate delays, the difficulties with R&R are now beginning to impact significantly on the operational effectiveness of the Division."

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 12:01

Six Israeli soldiers die in Romania helicopter crash

The defence ministry said six Israeli soldiers and one Romanian were on board but did not confirm their deaths. “One Romanian and two Israeli helicopters are taking part in the search and rescue operation,” defence ministry spokesman Constantin Spanu said.

Several dozen soldiers were also searching the area, he added. Witnesses quoted by Antena 3 television channel said they had seen three helicopters flying above the mountain region around the city of Brasov.

“Smoke was coming out of one of the helicopters which started losing altitude,” one of the witnesses was quoted as saying. The helicopter was taking part in a joint mililtary drill.

On July 18, the defence ministry announced an Israeli CH-53 helicopter participating in this exercice had made a crash landing after “sensing a failure aboard." “Once the failure was fixed, the helicopter returned safely to the Boboc airbase,” the ministry said.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 17:18




AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat Makes Its First Appearance at Farnborough International Air Show

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the AW159 Lynx Wildcat will be making its first appearance at the Farnborough International Air Show. The AW159, which will be known as the Lynx Wildcat in Royal Navy and British Army service, is a new generation multi-role helicopter that will replace existing Lynx helicopters. Sixty two aircraft, 34 for the Army and 28 for the Royal Navy, will be built at AgustaWestland’s factory in Yeovil with deliveries being completed in 2017.

This month, the airframe for  the first production aircraft was delivered on schedule to AgustaWestland by GKN Aerospace, marking the start of AW159 production. The production line located in Yeovil will operate on Pulse Line principles aimed at increasing the efficiency of the aircraft final assembly process through reducing the time and man hours required. Once fully established, the final assembly process, from receipt of the airframe to delivery of the completed aircraft for acceptance testing, will take just 3 months for each aircraft.

Read more and see photos in our next issue of Helicopter Monthly, register here to get your free copy.

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