« Running Out of Steam | Main | May DTI Preview »

April 23, 2007



Good Heavens. Talk about missing the point.

If the mission is hauling toothpaste and deodorant for zipperheads (thank you Full Metal Jacket) then the competition should have been TRASH-X, and the USAF should not be spending a, frankly, insane sum of money on a medium-sized air force of up-armoured, up-gunned, very long-range, AAR-capable helicopters dripping with specialist mission systems, defensive systems, sensor systems AND the army of highly-skilled people needed to fly and fix them.

Instead, buy some Mi-171s and get a great new helcicopter for every day of the week for the next five years for the same money being spent on CSAR-X.

Seriously, building up a dedicated force of CSAR aircraft and then wasting the crews’ perishable mission skills, not to mention airframe hours, on “shuttle flights” and “humanitarian missions” would surely be the height of madness.

Justifying CSAR-X by saying it’s not about CSAR at all is a poor defence. You note that only five crews have been lost in combat in recent years…the searing memory for the US CSAR force is that not one single crew was rescued in Desert Storm, despite all the pre-war promises that were made to those same crews. That memory needs to stick.

Five crews may not be a whole lot, but if you were one of them, in a ditch and your last clip has jammed…journalists and pundits indeed.

Sooner or later daring (or even not so daring) rescues will be needed. If the CSAR force is not 101% ready to do that mission then there is no point in having it. Being at 101% readiness means no dilution of mission skills – that means no flying rubber dog do to Hong Kong (thank you Top Gun).

There are some real and pressing questions about the cost of this aircraft and its suitability for the mission. But leaving that to one side for the moment, making a case for a very expensive and highly complex HH-47 as the best CSAR-X platform because it won’t really do much CSAR is folly.

Big D

So... we buy some airframes to do nothing but CSAR, and while nobody gets shot down, they just sit on the tarmac? We don't get any value out of them at all?


As a gunner with the 33 RQS, the last year of my career I was fortunate enough to take part in humanitarian missions in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. I'm thankful that we had the spare resources to carry out these missions. Serving these civilians certainly was a blessing.

That being said, CSAR crews don't train for humanitarian missions. We train to find and pluck that downed aircrew out of harms way, we must be prepared to do the best job we can with the best equipment that's available to us. I'm sure if you talk to the crew members of the HH-60G, they'll let you know how surprised they were at the announcement of the HH-47 decision. Some are still reeling. Make no mistake, CSAR is still about retrieving downed aircrew surrounded by enemy troops. In these cases, a "pretty good choice" is simply not acceptable. The focus should be on CSAR doctrine and not on possible cargo/humanitarian missions.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Current Issue

Blog powered by Typepad

Ares Photos

  • Riot 1
    Check out exclusive photos from Defense Technology International for a preview of upcoming stories, including: * Australian Army equips for stability ops * Army upgrades paratroopers * New A-10s!