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BladeLWS

Warthog vs. Apache......, in the news!

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I see that Donald Rumsfield is making notice that the 1940's Key West Agreement" will probably be scrapped (the Key West Agreement of the 1940s, stated that only the US Navy and the US Air Force could receive budget money to build fixed-wing aircraft, which limited the US Army to rotary winged aircraft). Along with the Key West Agreement, Rumsfield is all but demanding that the Apache Attack Helicopter be immediately scrapped as well! Seems that the Apache has not done its job, as it is too easily shot down or put out of service by even minimal weapons (in one daylight air-support attack in Gulf War II, 33 Apaches hit the Republican Guard, in defense of the 3rd Infantry, only to have 30 Apaches moderately to heavily damaged with 1 shot down, all by AK-47 and/or RPG fire). The combat record of the Apache (the Apache has been used in Serbia, Afganistan, Desert Storm, and now Gulf War II) has been deplorable and the aircraft has proven to be far more dangerous to its flight crews than to anyone on the ground.Rumsfield is suggesting that the Apache be immediately replaced by the moth-balled fleet of 650 A-10s and an updated version of the A-10 Warthog be considered. This proposal is apparently receiving wide support from within the US Army itself, at least from the report I just read. There have even been suggestions of bringing modified versions of the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair and/or Douglas A-1J Skyraider back into service as well. I would assume that there's little to no chance that either the F4U or A-1J will comeback, but its interesting that it has even been suggested, which is testimony to just how great a design these two aircraft were and how much respect they command even 60 years after their original deployment.Bear!

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I would lke to see the A10 back in service. Allways liked the plane from first sight on the Dutch Jackpot ground attack traininf facility on Terschelling. The aircraft impressed me from day one!T.

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As usual, the politicians ignore the realities of a situation in the haste to exploit an argument to pursue a largely political agenda.Fact: The desert is the worst possible place to deploy heavily-armed attack helicopters. Much of their NOE advantage is nullified, equivalent weapon usage can be just as easily (and far more cheaply) carried out by ground-based vehicles - and conventional aircraft - for the same result. So of course the kill rate suffers.While not disagreeing with the principle that the Apache is too much computer, not enough armour plate, remember that the Apache was designed to fight a different kind of war and that, when used according to the doctrine under which it was made (long-range standoff anti-armour tactical support) it is a devastating weapon.Being forced into close-in gun support of troops against lightly-armed resistance puts the aircraft into the most dangerous zone of operation, so it's not at all surprising the loss ratio was higher than desirable - but then again, lumping `damaged` aircraft in with `lost` aircraft creates the artificial environment that the Apache is a failure, whereas the survivability rate after coming under fire was greater than for any other airborne vehicle used in Iraq.I suggest Rumsfeld ask the troops whether they prefer close cover supplied by Apache's at fifty feet or A10's at 5,000 and I think you'll find that the helo gets the vote simply because it is that less likely to drop bombs and rockets on its own forces. I believe the A10 killed more allies in `friendly fire` incidents than any other aircraft in Iraq. Does that mean it's more dangerous to its friends than its enemies? If the A-10 is the aircraft of choice, how come it forced the allies to take cover more often than the enemy?ChasW

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The Marines suffered much less casualties with thier Cobras than the Army did with their Apaches. The problems of the Apaches this time were a result of some inappropriate tactics used than any irrelevance of the weapon. Stopping to a hover each time you shoot over flat, barren landscape with no cover is probably the main reason why the Apaches suffered so much. In contrast, the Marines used their Cobras in fast moving "Hind" style attacks, shooting on the move, which is why the press hasn't reported much woes with the Cobras.

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And as Rumsfeld as a politician, holds court over the tactics used by the military, perhaps the Apache question would best be resolved by letting the Army handle them how they want, trained how they need, rather than by dictats from the bureuacrats and blackmail-like funding holds for `non-aligned` training methods.I rather think the best outcome here would be for Rumsfeld to resign, he clearly has no understanding of military operations or the needs of `his` armed forces.ChasW

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ChasW,In the report I read (NBC), it was in fact the army that suggested the Apache be scrapped. The US Army picked the A-10 as its replacement because they are already built, as hundreds are just sitting around in moth-ball, with the exception of 150 or so that were used in Gulf War II. Rumsfield's primary stated goal was to trash the Key West Agreement which would allow the US Army to develop fixed wing aircraft. Rumsfield, reading from a report by the US Army officials at the Pentagon, stating the serious need for a ground forces support fixed-wing aircraft, an aircraft that would be less subject to enemy fire was drastically needed. It was in this report that suggested that even older fixed-wing aircraft, like the F4U Corsair or Douglas A-1J Skyraider, would probably have superior results on the battlefield, as compared to what the Apache has shown or proven so far, without exposing the flight crews to unnecessary danger.Apparently the few A-10s that were in Gulf War II, and they did provide close in support for both the Marines and the Army, and they were quite successful this time at it. Bear!

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Interesting topic. Small arms fire, sand ingestion and brown-outs have emerged as the chief challenges facing the US Army's fleet of more than 700 Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, Boeing AH-64 Apache, CH-47D Chinook and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters operating in Iraq. They have prompted several modifications being rushed into the field while planners are looking at long-term fixes as part of a comprehensive upgrade of the entire rotorcraft inventory.US Army aviation appears to have emerged from the war relatively unscathed, but facing a hefty repair and overhaul bill. The army to date has lost one UH-60 and one AH-64D, but hard landings in brown-outs have badly damaged two Black Hawks and five Apaches, two of which are write-offs. At least one CH-47D has been hit by an RPG, forcing it to drop its underslung load.Colonel Bill Lake, US Army UH-60 project manager, says sand has been a "significant problem" for engines and avionics. The army is working on a barrier filter for the machine's General Electric T700 engines and APU. The army is planning a "triage" inspection of the 250 deployed Black Hawks after they return, but the cost of repairing and replacing components is already estimated at $500,000 per helicopter.Over half the initial deployment of 76 OH-58D's were already equipped with engine barrier filters through a safety enhancement programme. "This is really saving the engine and we not had to replace a single one," says scout/attack project officer LT. Col. Jeffrey Crabb. Ground fire has taken its toll on the OH-58D's mast-mounted sight, however.Engine particle seperators and APU filters have helped sustain the 150 AH-64A/D's in Iraq, but combating brown-outs will require longer-term investment in a new generation forward-looking infra-red imager and enhanced flight controls, says Col Ralph Palotta, Apache programme manager. The UH-60M upgrade, meanwhile, will include a fully coupled flight director allowing step-down landing approaches and, from 2009 a fly-by-wire flight-control system permitting hands off flying.The US Army has accelerated some Apache improvements, including a new internal auxuiliary fuel system trading a 1,200-round 30mm magazine for 380 liters of extra fuel and a 300-round magazine. The first AH-64's equipped with the new air transportability kits have also been deployed, including folding main rotor blades, a quick-fit removable horizontal stabilizer and Longbow radar self-stowage system.The was has included some firsts, with the opening shot of the ground offensive being the first combat firing of a radar-guided Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Longbow Hellfire by an AH-64D again an Iraqi T-55 main battle tank.

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"I would lke to see the A10 back in service."Wait, the A10 is in service! I'm confused.

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So what will become of the RH-66 Comanche project that we've alreay spent hundreds of millions on?? Isn't that supposed to replace the Apache very soon?

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I'm really puzzled and surprised about this-The Apache had always been presented as one of the superstars in the 1st Gulf War...so what went wrong this time? Have its newer electronics become too sensitive for the harsh desert environment in the meantime? Its sensors too vulnerable to small arms fire? In other words...has it in fact deteriorated because of all the expensive upgrades???But it is certainly true that in the latter stages of GW II Cobra's appeared to be taking over from Apaches...could just be the Marines coming more to the forefront of course...

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I have to agree. It sounds like a good plan. The A-10 is hard to beat.Now, remember that T-Prop version of the Mustang that came out about 20 years ago? That'd go good with the Corsairs and Skyraiders. :)

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No, the Comanche is a scout helicopter (or a Light Armed Helicopter I believe is the newest terminology), would replace the OH-58s running around out there. Paul

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Well, I'm sure the air force will get all bent about this, but serves them right. The top brass hated the plane because it didn't serve their marketing image of sleek, fast figher planes and cool stealth weapons - despite the fact it proved itself time and time again in the first and second gulf wars. Many decried its mothballing. I say let the Army go for it. The marines have their own dedicated close support air power, why not the army? The airforce seems only interested in air superiority and sexy long-range bombers.

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Since sand is a major problem while landing, how about landing at speed instead of hovering to land. I'm sure this is a stupid question but the fact is if the sand and brown outs are one thing to learn from don't you think they would use an airstrip to take off and land at as much as possible since the apache does have wheels? Instead of setting up camp over complete sand. Just a little out of the box comment.Kilstorm

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Remember the Apache was first designed to fight in Europe, against advancing Soviet tank columns. In Europe you have lots of cover and hiding places. In the desert you have absolutely no cover, and the engines were not designed to take in loads of sand. The Israelis solved the sand problem on there Apaches by putting in new engines, but the politians didn't want them.

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The Apache has got a bum rap since Kosovo. The media is looking at defense dollars spent and trying to come up with a "Why Aren't We Getting Our Money's Worth Story" If you look at Gulf War 1 (Desert Storm), the Apache performed very well. In Kosovo, more airframe losses were due to crashes than enemy fire. I haven't heard of any Marine Cobra's being shot up or shot down. We aren't on the need to know basis so we don't know what kind of missions the Apache crews were on. We don't know what kind of ordinance they were using at the time. We don't know what kind of resistance they were encountering at the time. It just seems kinda strange how an airframe from the 1960's (the cobra) apparently performed flawlessly but the Apache is junk. No B-52's have been shot down. Does this mean we should scrap the f-14, F-15-strike Eagle, F-16 or the F/A-18 as a ground attack aircraft? These aircraft all have been shot down. I feel that training is an issue. Tactics could be an issue. Can someone tell me why the hell they didn't paint the Apache's in desert camo like they did with the Cobra's? It would be kinda tough to use the Long Bow feature of hiding with the rotor head peaking up for recon before striking the target. It would also be tough hiding behind a sand dune since the rotor wash would create a sand storm. What happened to the "Hunter Killer" tactics as used with the Cobra's during Vietnam? This is where they would send a little guy down on the deck to draw fire then have the Cobra's dive in from high altitude to attack where the fire was coming from.

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Anyone want to bet that of I'd posted this here it would have been locked or moved by now?Trip

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No B-52's were shot down because they never flew over Iraq until all the SAM sites were taken out, only fighters and medium bombers went in. Mostly the Apaches are doing interdition strikes against tank columns, and radar installations, like the first Gulf War. Both the Cobra and Apache carry 2.75 Rockets, guns, and Hellfire missles, along with sometimes a Sidewinder for personal defense. The Cobra has been upgraded since Vietnam, the only Vietnam era airframes left are a few old AH-1F's in the US Army, which are being retired. The new ones, the AH-1W's, now have two engines, improved avionics and weapons, and they can operate in any enviroment. The Apache was being shot down so much because it was the first aircraft into Iraq, taking out early warning radar sites, which are fiercely defended by SAM's and AA guns. They didn't paint the Apaches into desert camo because they are more night stalker than day stalker, and when your an Iraqi on the ground and you look up, and you see a big tan/brown spot, bingo. Keeping them painted in camo keeps prying eyes off at night. This small arms fire is bound to happen, these helos fly low all the time and are subject to it. Like any engine it doesn't react well to bullets. One last thing, the Cobra's are alot smaller and more agile than the Apache is, making it a harder target, and the AH-1W is newer than the AH-64D.

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Just to answer the question about painting the apache in desert colors: despite having a large desert Iraq also has "green" areas. I think it would be rather difficult to constantly changing battle field. As for tactics, those must be changed per each battle field. What works one place doesn't work another. Also I

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Guys...this is a POLITICAL PLOY by the US Army to get back into the tactical fixed wing business. The USAF and the Navy have gotten increasingly focused on strategic weapon systems. Thats fine. However the Army needs to combine air power with ground power. (so do the USMC). On that basis, I see no reason why the attack role shouldnt be an Army function. The marines have integrated air/sea/land ops in a single service...why not the army.Eric

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Also to add onto above that the Marine Corps trains in the south west deserts of the US, out of 29 Palm, thats why alot of the Cobras are already in desert camo, the Army trains in a more European enviroment, except for the tanks.

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