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  • Crashing Copters

    I don't know how many experts there are here in military aircraft, but I'm wondering what it is about military helicopters that leads them to be in so many crashes. I think in Desert Shield, that was the major cause of death for American military personnel. I can well understand the crashes that occur during combat. But it also seems they crash quite a bit when there are no present hostilities. Whereas there are all kinds of copters flying daily over cities and staying airborne.

  • #2
    Originally posted by EconomyClass View Post
    I don't know how many experts there are here in military aircraft, but I'm wondering what it is about military helicopters that leads them to be in so many crashes. I think in Desert Shield, that was the major cause of death for American military personnel. I can well understand the crashes that occur during combat. But it also seems they crash quite a bit when there are no present hostilities. Whereas there are all kinds of copters flying daily over cities and staying airborne.

    A major issue at the moment in Iraq and Afg is that because of the dry dusty/sandy terrain as the choppers come in to land the downwash from their rotors kicks up the dust and the pilots lose all visual cues in the most critical part of the landing. Quite a few birds writen off that way.

    Also, most military flying is flown very close to the deck using terrain and vegetation to screen your very vulnerable helicopter from trash fire (ground fire). You fly close to the deck and evantually you will get tangled in power lines, clip a tree or have a mechanical malady that had it occurred at a higher altitude may have been recoverable.

    Unlike the average civvy pilot, military pilots pretty much need to fly 24/7. If there is a bloke wounded at night in bad weather the medivac chopper will launch - there is no road alternative in Afg.

    Final point is that night flying is often conducted with Night Vision Goggles, NVG's have the problem of causing a pilots depth perception to go haywire (it takes quite a bit to get used to) and that the field of view is reduced to a green narrow tunnel - your peripheral vision is non existant.

    Then you have an enemy trying to kill you...

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    • #3
      Originally posted by EconomyClass View Post
      I don't know how many experts there are here in military aircraft, but I'm wondering what it is about military helicopters that leads them to be in so many crashes. I think in Desert Shield, that was the major cause of death for American military personnel. I can well understand the crashes that occur during combat. But it also seems they crash quite a bit when there are no present hostilities. Whereas there are all kinds of copters flying daily over cities and staying airborne.
      Incidentally, Desert Storm also had coalition choppers shot down by their own side (know as 'blue on blue' incidents) - that doesn't help.

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      • #4
        Not only US but also ruggid Soviet designs like the Mil-8/17 has crashed a lot in the region even due to having better filters than the US helos, read a book by Saddam Hussein Al-Tikritīs doctor whom claimed the initial attack on Kuwait back in 1990 costed the Iraqis around 50 helicopters because the flew over desert at low altitude
        to avoid radar and avoided the Iraq-Iran border and the river mount of Eufrat and Tigris there due to tense relations with Iran.
        http://www.amazon.com/dp/034911935X/
        "The real CEO of the 787 project is named Potemkin"

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        • #5
          Bottom line seems to be that flying copters in that part of the world is one of the more risky specialties in the military. Only thing I wonder is how low flying helps reduce the risk of an RPG taking you out.

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          • #6
            Sometimes you don't need an enemy

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4CQfaBGWSo
            If it 'ain't broken........ Don't try to mend it !

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            • #7
              That's a bit weird.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by EconomyClass View Post
                Bottom line seems to be that flying copters in that part of the world is one of the more risky specialties in the military. Only thing I wonder is how low flying helps reduce the risk of an RPG taking you out.
                Two options to reduce the effectiveness of 'trashfire' - fly above 10,000 feet or fly really low and use terrain and vegetation and speed to screen you. It can be quite difficult to take a bead on a chopper that you won't hear before they are very close (so it will take you a while to pick up and your weapon), they will be flying past at over 120 knots, so you will only get a second or two to take a sight picture - and most people underestimate the 'lead' and miss. All choppers flying that low will have door and or ramp gunners that can help lay down supressive fire (look up M134 Minigun for an example of one weapon used). The military choppers are usually specified during construction to be able to take hits from trashfire and survive. They have gearboxes for example to run without oil for a specified period of time if hit and punctured, main rotor blades are rated not to fail despite being hit by up to 23mm cannon fire (depending on the chopper obviously). When planning missions crews try not to fly the same track - after all that will just assist the enemy in setting up an ambush. Most often troop carrying choppers are protected and escorted by a flight of gunships - having 30mm cannon shells hitting you or 2.75inch rockets or a Hellfire up your nostril will ruin your day.

                That said, at the end of the day if your mission is to fly into a 'hot LZ' you'll do that because the mission and soldiers are more important than the airframe you are flying.

                Finally, in Afg, you can either trundle along at foot speed with blokes sweeping the road by hand ahead of your vehicle (slow - enemy then have the option of fleeing or setting up an ambush) as well as the ever present threat from IED's. Choppers make sense on so many levels. There are laser and radar solutions coupled with autoland systems being developed and trialled now to combat the problems of brownout on landing

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                • #9
                  Not sure that an RPG represents a severe threat to low flying helicopters - especially when flying low as SYDCBRWOD describes...... Not compared to - shall we say - more conventional AA weapons!
                  Holed up in a cabin in the woods.. with 3 years worth of canned goods.. and a whole bunch of guns.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by trooper View Post
                    Not sure that an RPG represents a severe threat to low flying helicopters - especially when flying low as SYDCBRWOD describes...... Not compared to - shall we say - more conventional AA weapons!
                    Ever see the movie Blackhawk Down?

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                    • #11
                      In that movie the helicopters were dropping people off and picking them up. If you were to do that from 5,000' they could shoot you down with normal AA fire anyway. When you're stationary your vunlnerable to all types of fire, however, when you're moving being low is better.
                      Sam Rudge
                      A 5D3, some Canon lenses, the Sigma L and a flash

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by trooper View Post
                        Not sure that an RPG represents a severe threat to low flying helicopters - especially when flying low as SYDCBRWOD describes...... Not compared to - shall we say - more conventional AA weapons!
                        Agree, although being the 'weapon du jour' in Afg, the RPG's often get fired at choppers. A pommy news crew was taking some background footage of Afghan terrain from a Chinook for a report some months ago. When they got back to base a few hours later and checked the footage on some decent sized monitors whilst editing the feed for the news that night, they realised they there were 3 RPG's fired at their aircraft that just missed (their description). Choppers are at their most vulnerable when slowing for a landing or discharging troops in a hot LZ. An RPG would be a very real threat under those conditions. They may be quite innaccurate and unsuited to bringing down a chopper, but if one hits you could just about guarantee a firey ending.

                        EC FYI, the RPG was originally developed as an anti-armour weapon, a shaped charge warhead propelled by a shortburn rocket motor. They are far more inaccurate than a rife (then again their targets are larger) and the projectile travels much slower (so particularly with a moving target you need to 'lead' a stack more). The effective range is supposed to be around 400m or so, although I have seen footage of Taleban plinking soviet tanks over a km away in a valley from a neighbouring hilltop. I think there is a bit of the 'Exocet syndrome' going on with the RPG. After the Sheffield was sunk by an Exocet anti ship missile during the Falklands War, anything that was a missile (it didn't matter what - Air to Air, Surface to Air, probably even the space shuttle - if it had a rocket motor and flew it was an 'Exocet' according to the media). Nowadays - anything that is fired by a single soldier and goes 'bang' is identified as an RPG - this has lead to the idea among the populace that the humble RPG can be used to kill people, tanks, planes, brids probably submerged submarines and even be used as an anti satelite weapon!

                        Trooper is very correct however - a Strella, Grail or Stinger would have a better chance of hitting, but then again every helicopter would have IR jamers and flares or blinding lasers as defence against these specialist weapons - so the dumb old RPG may still be one of the more effective weapons up close.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Source: CV-22 crash not caused by mechanical failure
                          DATE:17/04/10

                          SOURCE:Flight International

                          Source: CV-22 crash not caused by mechanical failure


                          By Stephen Trimble

                          The BellBoeing CV-22 crash in Afghanistan on 8 April was not caused by a mechanical failure, according to a source familiar with preliminary findings of the US military investigation.

                          The fatal crash, which killed four and injured others, occurred after the pilot lost situational awareness while landing in a wadi around 1am under brown-out conditions, the source says.

                          The incident killed the pilot, a flight engineer, an army Ranger and an unidentified civilian.

                          Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), which owns the CV-22 fleet, was not immediately available to comment.

                          US military officials have previously stated the cause of the CV-22 crash in Afghanistan was still under investigation. Military spokesmen, however, have ruled out enemy fire as a potential cause.

                          The 8 August crash is the first fatal accident involving a V-22 Osprey tiltrotor since December 2000, and is the fifth fatal crash in the programme's chequered history.

                          In 2000, two fatal crashes within eight months caused by a combination of design flaws and mechanical failures forced military leaders to put the programme on hold for two years while contractors re-designed systems and the airframe to improve safety.

                          After declaring the MV-22 fleet operational in 2007, the US Marine Corps has deployed its version of the Osprey in Iraq and Afghanistan without suffering a fatal crash.

                          USMC officials have praised the MV-22's performance, although the service has acknowledged concerns about unexpectedly high costs to operate and maintain the unique tiltrotor fleet.

                          AFSOC, meanwhile, had deployed six CV-22s delivered so far to Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan before sustaining the crash.

                          The brown-out scenario during landing is recognized as a major safety concern for all rotorcraft operating in areas with loose sand. A recent study by the Office of the Secretary of Defense has concluded that 80% of the US millitary's 320 rotorcraft crashes during the last decade has been caused by degraded visual awareness.

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                          • #14
                            Black Hawk crashed near Tikrit, Iraq recently. 1 fatality.
                            "The real CEO of the 787 project is named Potemkin"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SYDCBRWOD View Post
                              Agree, although being the 'weapon du jour' in Afg, the RPG's often get fired at choppers. A pommy news crew was taking some background footage of Afghan terrain from a Chinook for a report some months ago. When they got back to base a few hours later and checked the footage on some decent sized monitors whilst editing the feed for the news that night, they realised they there were 3 RPG's fired at their aircraft that just missed (their description). Choppers are at their most vulnerable when slowing for a landing or discharging troops in a hot LZ. An RPG would be a very real threat under those conditions. They may be quite innaccurate and unsuited to bringing down a chopper, but if one hits you could just about guarantee a firey ending.

                              EC FYI, the RPG was originally developed as an anti-armour weapon, a shaped charge warhead propelled by a shortburn rocket motor. They are far more inaccurate than a rife (then again their targets are larger) and the projectile travels much slower (so particularly with a moving target you need to 'lead' a stack more). The effective range is supposed to be around 400m or so, although I have seen footage of Taleban plinking soviet tanks over a km away in a valley from a neighbouring hilltop. I think there is a bit of the 'Exocet syndrome' going on with the RPG. After the Sheffield was sunk by an Exocet anti ship missile during the Falklands War, anything that was a missile (it didn't matter what - Air to Air, Surface to Air, probably even the space shuttle - if it had a rocket motor and flew it was an 'Exocet' according to the media). Nowadays - anything that is fired by a single soldier and goes 'bang' is identified as an RPG - this has lead to the idea among the populace that the humble RPG can be used to kill people, tanks, planes, brids probably submerged submarines and even be used as an anti satelite weapon!

                              Trooper is very correct however - a Strella, Grail or Stinger would have a better chance of hitting, but then again every helicopter would have IR jamers and flares or blinding lasers as defence against these specialist weapons - so the dumb old RPG may still be one of the more effective weapons up close.
                              What weapon dropped the Blackhawk in Mogadishu. The movie showed it as an RPG, but was it something else?

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