Monday, April 23, 2018

This CH-53 Driver just gave me the best argument for the "K" that I've heard...

One of the good things about this blog is it's community.  I have readers from a wide variety of backgrounds and from various nations across the world.

Some keep me informed of what's going on with the FMF, Frazier you magnificent bastard stay safe while doing the hard thing, all my LEO bro's the same applies to you.

The list goes on and I can't name all the contributors to this little enterprise.

My readers give me knowledge, wisdom and insight into things that I have little visibility on.

One of those things was the CH-53K.

I've been lukewarm to the thing.  Thrilled by what I saw from the presentation on what it promised to deliver, excited by the way the beast looks and a bit pissed at the price.

Pissed is an understatement.

I balked at it.

Luckily a reader set me straight and gave me the best argument for the "K" that I've heard.
via Ian B

Disqus managed to eat my first response. Let’s see if I can be that coherent again.

1. Even if I wanted to simply build “new” CH-53Es, there’s no production line in existence to restart. You’d be building a production line from scratch, with all the cost and time that takes, and likely wind up waiting even longer for new airframes than with the Kilo line, which is already established.

2. More a 2a: a “new” Ch-53E would still be 1980s analog technology. Almost all of the design features of the Kilo aren’t ground-breaking untried science experiment s like the F-35, but rather the incorporation of long-standing aerospace engineering developments simply used on all new aircraft. Digital cockpit? Airlines have had them for years and years. Fly-by-wire technology? That was new in the F-16 … in the 1970s. Composite airframe? Also used by aircraft for years. Aerodynamically efficient rotor blades? H-60s have had those for a long time. Digital fuel control? To my knowledge, the Echo is the only rotary wing aircraft in the MAGTF that still uses a mechanical fuel control. These are much harder to calibrate, not as efficient as they could be, and don’t have the internal response to time to prevent a pilot from potentially causing an over speed/overtemperature condition on an engine that requires even more maintenance. If we’re going to get a new heavy lift platform for the MAGTF, it might as well be one that utilizes the almost 40 years of aviation technology developed since the Echo first came on line.

3. More a 2b: much of upgraded aerospace engineering on the Kilo is what helps it lift more. Composite airframes reduce weight, which lets the aircraft lift more stuff for Marines. Fly-by-wire replaces yards and yards of physical metal control linkages between the pilot in the cockpit and the main and tail rotors; that’s also more weight the aircraft can now lift. The digital fuel control also makes the engines more efficient and helps mitigate excessive wear based on sudden changes in power requirements; more efficient engines can lift more, and also burn less fuel so we can move stuff farther.

4. Another key thing on the Kilo is that it’s various defensive, navigational, and other systems are integrated. Over the decades, the Echo has had lots of things slapped on it to make it a better aircraft and more survivable: the FLIR, various countermeasure systems, etc. These are great, but they were add where there was room in the cockpit, which means their placement isn’t always ideal from a tactical perspective. The FLIR screen sits in the pilot’s natural line of sight with other instruments, which is fine. But the missile countermeasure system is on the middle lower console, which means that when the pilots hear a missile alert, they have to look DOWN AND AWAY from outside to see where the missile is coming from. They have to take their eyes away from their exterior scan, which is where their eyes NEED TO BE to see the missile coming at them. Not very efficient or tactical. The countermeasure in itself is great, but it’s not optimized in the way it would be when it’s built into the aircraft from day one.

Long story short, if the Marine Corps has a heavy lift requirement, which I think it does, and you’re going to get a replacement for an aging platform, t hat replacement might as well be new in the fullest sense, incorporating the many advances in aviation engineering since 1980. Whether the Kilo was the best way to do that, it’s too late to say now; but simply building new Echos isn’t an option, and I really wouldn’t want that anyway since the technology dates back to when most of its pilots were either learning how to walk or still gleams in daddy’s eye.
In either another comment or this one (that Disqus ate) he said something that made me pause even more than what you're reading above.

To paraphrase he said that "they're seeing weird shit with the airplane that they've never seen before".  That's the kind of talk that portends planes falling out of the sky.  That's the kind of talk that let's you know that the people flying and maintaining them know they're on borrowed time.  That's the kind of talk that should be reserved for combat not a milk run from Pendleton to 29 Palms.

I've slammed HQMC for the trainwreck that I blame on the F-35 (I still hold that position), but the ship has sailed.  Whatever the reason..... mismanagement, poor planning or simply fucked up priorities the CH-53E has to be replaced.

Yeah.  I think Davis and Amos totally fucked up.

Yeah.  I think they made a bad situation worse by buying aircraft so fast that they screwed up logistics/maintenance all because they worshipped at the altar of a former Commandant saying to a couple of Colonels testifying to Congress on the then radically new Harrier Jump Jet way back yonder that they should say that "the plane is perfect", while privately admitting that "we'll fix it once we get it" (can someone please find me the quote and the Commandant who said that....I've been looking but it seems to have almost been scrubbed from Marine Corps history).

But we're hear now.

I am thinking that Marine Air is in worse shape than anyone will admit and that those airplanes are unsafe.

All we can do is deal with things the way they are now, not as they should be. They fucked up but we have to move forward.  That means buying the CH-53K now.

The problem?

Everything including this program is gonna be slow walked. 

Every part of the Marine Corps is screaming for more money but the pot is not endless.

Something will be left undone.  So what will that be?  Do we fuck over the GCE?  Leave portions of the ACE in shit shape?  Neglect logistics?

Everything is all screwed up and I have no idea how they'll fix it.

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