View Full Version : 6 Tonne Helicopters

10th August 2003, 16:51
This has come up before ina variety of related topics but I though for clarity's sake it deserved a thread of its own.
Given the White papers commitment to purchasing 9 LUHs and 4-5 M/Ls
and the general board consensus on operating these classes exclusively is there any room in future air corp procurement decisions for smaller medium lift helicopters such as the H-60, IAR-330 (Original Puma) and AB139 (http://www.flug-revue.rotor.com/FRtypen/FRAB139.htm) ?

The obvious attractions of these aircraft are cost, the brand new AB139 has an estimated base unit cost (flyaway) of $6m as opposed to the minimum $12m for something in the Cougar or S-92 class.
However there are clear limitations on the 6tonne types being used in the roles envisaged for the IAC.
Range is one, the H-60 has a maximum endurance of 2hrs and 6mins compared to the EC725s 4hrs 17mins.
The as yet buyerless AB139 military has a respectable 3.9hr endurance, but seats a mere 15 troops in CEMO compared to 29 in the EC725/Cougar or 22 in the S-92.
In the AB139s favour however it is new technology and the EC725 did lose several procurement competitions against the likes of the EH101 on the basis of being old technology, purchase of a newer aircraft (whether AB139 or S/H-92) would certainly offer protection against obsolescence.

I'm curious to hea whether anyone sees the 6tonne M/L as a potential replacement for either the larger M/L or the LUH or is it simply a luxury beyond a small concentrated air arm?

11th August 2003, 14:51
This forum is quiet, too quiet

11th August 2003, 14:59
You're impatient. :D

11th August 2003, 15:00
A more 'military' aircraft would be the Agusta 412. It's performace is comparable to that of the AB139, plus it's already in service.

11th August 2003, 15:09
Of we could buy some second-hand A111's from Eurocopter :


11th August 2003, 15:29
You don't want the 412(aka Griffin, Gryphon). Basically straight off the shelf civvy helo. Anyone using them for military service has had nothing but trouble eg. Canada, UK. The old 212 UH-1N is a much better platform. Even the older H is better in most ways than the 412. Go for the Super Huey currently available from Bell or another company. Great medium-lift helo. Reliable and safe. Most importantly, I'd say for the IAC, cheap. You guys would be able to pick up 3 times as many helos for the same price as new ones.

Bud Fox
11th August 2003, 15:46
Me see's another 4 Aloutte's on the way... 1956 vintage

11th August 2003, 16:18
THe AB139 is a purpose built military aircraft and is equiped and structured as such its alos intended to supplement the biglifter types (212,213) and Griffon (412) as a bigger brother, it is not in the same class as such (in much the same way a blackhawk carries the same number of troops as a Huey even though it weighs an extra 2000kg)
What I'm more interested in is roles and the capability of such an aircraft to meet them as opposed to the current vision on procurement.

11th August 2003, 17:14
What I'm more interested in is roles and the capability of such an aircraft to meet them as opposed to the current vision on procurement.

Unfortunately, CQ, if you're looking at it from an IDF point of view, I don't don't think you can think of one, without considering the other. Probably the only force that could, would be the US.

11th August 2003, 20:09
I think you misunderstood me, when I say "As opposed to the current vision on procurement" I'm refering to how it's taken for granted that a future IAC will be based on LUHs and Cougar class M/Ls.

11th August 2003, 20:42
I think it does come down to role C-Q, in a very straightforward way.

It is presumed that the LUH will be a direct AIII replacement, and will take over its roles accordingly. Once working on that premise, the only criteria that seems to have mattered is that of cost (both of operation and inititial cap-ex), this going back as far as the PwC report. Basically a small airframe, space for 3-4 troops for border patrol, a casualty or a Government Minister.

The medium lifters are assumed to be 'in the Sea King class', because thats what the requirment is based around, a big, long ranged heli to handle SAR off our coast. Recently we've seen the story emerge (with the medium lift contract) that theres a requirment for troop lift as well (in a 21st century European military air arm, y'don't say!). So there you have it, two separate requirements and two very different helis.

There doesn't appear to have been a re-assessment of the possible future role of helicopters in Irish military service at all, just an assumption that we'll have more of the same. Which is unfortunate really, because theres a case to be made that the AC could use something in between to handle troop lift, serious cas evac (particularly in the case of a domestic disaster/emergency)'and even SOF insertion to a domestic situation. This very question came up on one of the earlier boards, someone suggested those airframes already mentioned as possible contenders. Resulting in a very different force structure. Whereby youd have 4-6 LUH, a larger force of 6-8 Medium, as in UH-60, AB139 (or even the EC155 now) and a smaller force of a 2-3 Medium lifts.

In the long run, its a good bet that SAR will become entirely a civilian function, and there are good reasons for it. In that case, having the medium lifts at all would be a non starter. In that scenario, the 6 tonners would become a serious option. Otherwise what you'll see is the LUH contract going through, the Medium lift being cancelled as SAR goes, and the AC being back to where it was in 1986, fleetwise.

12th August 2003, 15:37
Thats the kind of answer I was looking for, let me ask once again why I had to be born in this country:confused:

An interesting aside did anyone else see the peacemake rhte other night, they were using Dauphins as Blackhawks.

paul g
12th August 2003, 18:44
Even if there was no requirement for SAR, medium (a la Seaking) would still be a better buy for troop support than a 6 tonner. The Ab-139 claims to be able to carry 15 men, but only in its high density seating arrangement, and personally I wouldn't like to see what would happen if those troops had weapons or kit along with them.

Advangages of the M/L over something in the Ab-139 class would be increased capacity, as Nathan Beford Forrest said, get their first with the most, two gives you the ability to carry a platoon of infantry in a single lift, one can carry a ranger troop, they can carry more cargo, important for logistics, thirdly the longer ranger means that they can fly for longer periods, important if you're supporting ground forces. Even better for case evac, could a medic stand up in an AB-139?

there is a definete need for a LUH, observation and liasion are important roles for any army air corps, along with low level casevac/air ambulance.

The Ab-139 has potential as a naval helicopter and has been picked as part of deepwater by the USCG.

13th August 2003, 09:55
I have to say I've never really thought of the 6 tonne as a standalone TT fleet(even in my more fanciful wishlists), the main opening I'd have conceived is as a supplement to an M/L fleet, to allow for extra troop carrying capacity etc but with reduced cost, the practical benefits of this would be largely in training as troops could be trained with smaller airframes with the more capable TT craft being saved for operational deployment.
However I'm not to sure about the practicality of training for tactical deployments with a smaller troop capacity then you'll actually have, still it might keep a fleet moving in the right direction if after an initial purchase of M/Ls a smaller memner of the same family could be purchased leased rather than just having inadequate airframe numbers to do anything.
It mightn't be ideal but would it be functional.
From the LUH point of view is there value to be had from purchasing a slightly larger airframe to increase its transport potential (even if its only Lynx style two to a section), from what Ex-pat and a few others(elsewhere on the web have) have said the Kiowa wasn't a great success in any role other than target designation and recce, could a slightly bigger (not neccesarily 6 tonne) airframe perform these roles as efficiently yet also offer improved weights?