Poland’s hesitation when it concerns miltary helicopters must drive manufacturers out of their minds, and Airbus Helicopters especially. The company saw a 3 billion USD deal for H225M Caracal choppers fall through earlier this year and now wants Poland to select the Tiger as its new attack helicopter. Best cards are for the AH-64 Apache and AH-1Z Viper, however.
Airbus Helicopters is ‘laying the groundwork’ for future Tiger production in Poland in the same way it has been doing with the Caracal, says a statement released on Thursday 28 April. The European company taps into the fact that disagreements over off sets eventually caused the Caracal to largely collapse.
Poland doesn’t seem to have much eye for the Airbus Helicopter offer and mostly looks at the AH-64 Apache or AH-1Z Viper as its new attack helo. The former would be locally built by PZL Swidnik, while the latter could be produced by PZL Mielec.
Warsaw has a history troublesome history when it comes to selecting helicopters, however. A long process led to the selection of the Caracal as the country’s new combat search and rescue (CSAR) platform… until it was decided to look at other contenders once again.
Meanwhile, classic Mi-8 Hip transport helicopters soldier on and ageing Mi-24 Hind helicopters keep fulfilling the attack role.
The struggle could be associated with the fact that Poland also modestly produces helicopters on its own. PZL Swidnik furthermore is tied to AgustaWestLan, while PZL Mielec is involved with Sikorysky.
The Republic of China Army Aviation (RoCAA; Taiwan) has extreme difficulties keeping its 29 new AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters airborne. Part of the problem is a discovered material failure due to faulty production by Boeing.
The American manufacturer of the legendary attack helicopter is using a new aluminum-magnesium alloy for the tail rotor gearbox and this material seems to be the reason of corrosion in salty and humid climates such as in Taiwan. Nine AH-64Es are grounded because of this issue, while Boeing technicians are trying to find a solution but for now just advising ill-tested short-term measures.
Another 12 helicopters stay on the tarmac since there are insufficient spare parts to keep them airborne, sources inside the Taiwanese military confirmed. This leaves only eight choppers operational in a country under constant threat by mainland China.
The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said that corrosion woes with AH-64E Apache helicopters have led to the aircraft’s grounding, and Boeing, the US manufacturer, has dispatched a special task force to help identity and fix the problem.
The Apache Guardian is so far a very unsuccessful story in Japan. On 25 April 2014 one RoCAA AH-64E crashed into a house reducing the number of aircraft immediately to 29 shortly after purchase. Taiwanese Apaches were grounded for a while as well after a problem with the main transmission was discovered on US Army versions.
When the RoCAA can really make use of all its AH-64Es is still unknown.
UPDATED 21APRIL 2015 | The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) led air strikes on Houthi rebel positions in neighbouring Yemen has got a broad military support from many other Arab nations. As Airheadsfly.com got new data the RSAF F-15S (Strike) Eagles and EF2000 Typhoons didn’t fly into combat alone at all.
If our sources are correct the United Arab Emirates Air Force sent 30 of its fighter jets, mainly Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Desert Falcons and possibly a number of Dassault Mirage 2000s. The Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) and Kuwait Air Force both said to have contributed about 15 combat jets each. If true, the relatively large RBAF contribution is remarkable, since the country has only about 15 to 17 operational F-16Cs and eight remaining and aging Northrop F-5Es.
The Kuwait Air Force used almost half of its 35 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet. The Qatar Emiri Air Force scrambled up to ten of its Mirage 2000s, while the Royal Jordanian Air Force flew six of its Lockheed Martin F-16s into combat in the Yemen.
Air Assets Operation Restoring Hope (known as Decisive Storm until the end of April 2015)
Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF):
100 aircraft, including Boeing F-15C Eagle air-superiority fighters, Boeing F-15S (Strike) Eagles, Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon multi-role fighters, Panavia Tornado interdictor / strike aircraft, Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters (unconfirmed), Aérospatiale (Airbus Helicopter) AS532M Cougar CSAR helicopters
United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF):
30 fighter jets of Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Desert Falcon and Dassault Mirage 2000 type
Kuwait Air Force (KAF):
15 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet multirole fighters. Some or all operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia.
Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF):
15 aircraft of the Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon and Northrop F-5 type
Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF):
10 Mirage 2000-5 fighters. Some or all operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia.
Royal Jordanian Air Force (RDAF):
6 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16A/B Fighting Falcon multirole fighters
Royal Moroccan Air Force:
6 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multirole fighters
Sudanese Air Force:
3 to 6 Sukhoi Su-24 strike aircraft. Operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia. Moreover the Sudanese Air Force has likely deployed some of its four C-130 Hercules and possible its two Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft in support
Egyptian Air Force:
US Air Force (USAF):
Boeing KC-135 Stratofortress upon Saudi request. First refuelling mission flown on 8 April 2015.
The air strikes are focusing on Houthi rebel positions, air defence sites, air bases and Sanaa international airport, command-and-control locations and army camps in Sanaa, Saada and Taiz. The first strikes were launched on 25 or 26 March 2015, with ground forces engaged as well in what has been dubbed Operation Decisive Storm. Officially it takes place under the flag of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the members.
Footage posted by AlAribya on YouTube
Saudi Arabia has said to have committed a 100 aircraft, as well as 150,000 ground forces. The six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons that the Royal Moroccan Air Force already had in the United Arab Emirates to fight ISIS in Iraq have also been retasked with supporting the Saudi-led operations in Yemen. Sudan committed three combat aircraft, Sukhoi Su-24s (“Fencer”) sources say. Egypt pledged its support as well, but there is no information yet on how many and which aircraft it will sent.
The conflict in Yemen is between loyalist forces that support fled president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi / Zaidi Shia rebels. Main focus is the western part of the country. There the loyalist forces have the most support in the Sunnis south – with Aden as the principal city. Whoever control Aden, controls the sea lanes to/from the Red Sea – a main supply route for oil and other goods. The Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia is said to be pushing towards Aden with a ground force of about 5,000 troops.
The Houthi forces have a strong control of the northern part of the west, mainly north of the capital of Sanaa. They easily took control of the capital last September and are known to be an effective fighting force, meaning the Arab coalition will very likely deploy combat aircraft and maybe helicopters in the close air-support role. In fact, the Saudis deployed armed helicopters (likely Apaches, but this is unconfirmed) on the border when its ground forces clased with Houthi forces.
Footage posted by AlAribya on YouTube
During a large part of the 20th century there were two Yemens. North Yemen became a state in 1918, while South Yemen freed itself from colonizer Britain. The two united on 22 May 1990, but unrest has plagued the country since 1993. In the current conflict Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia support the loyalist forces – including military ground and air ops since this week. Iran is opposing the use of weapons by its Arab neighbours, but has so far stayed out of the conflict militarily.
Houthi rebel combat planes
Officially at least, since some sources indicate that Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force pilots are flying combat planes of Yemeni Air Force units who sided or were overrun by Houthi rebels. One or more Iranian ships have also docket in Hudaidah with military equipment and ammunition on board earlier this March.
But with the Royal Saudi Air Force controlling Yemeni air space since Thursday 26 March, it is unlikely that Houthi planes with Yemeni or Iranian pilots will stand much of a change. In fact, according to several sources on 30 March 2015 the Saudi-led air strikes have destroyed at least 11 fighter jets of the Houthi rebels. The rebels got quite a prize in the third week of March, capturing Yemeni Air Force Al Anad Airbase with apparently up to 21 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets. Some sources say that the Houthis never had more than 16 combat aircraft in total, so the exact details are somewhat sketchy.
Update 21 March: helicopter involved was serial Q-15, according to the Dutch
Ministry of Defense. | A Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) AH-64D Apache has crashed in Mali on Tuesday 17 March, according to news reports. The two crew members were killed in the accident, which happened in the northern province of Gao.
The helicopter went down at 2pm local time during a live shooting exercise, some 45 kilometers north of Gao. One of the pilots died on the scene, while the other one died in a French army hospital. Both were members of 301 squadron, home based at Gilze Rijen airbase in the southern part of the Netherlands.
The accident marks the second time the Dutch loose an Apache during operations abroad. On 29 August 2004, an Apache crashed while in Afghanistan. The cause was later determined to be crew error. The Netherlands now operates a fleet of 28 remaining Apaches, of which a small number is kept in the US for training purposes.
The Full Rate Lot 5 production of 35 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters is about to conclude. With completion date 31 July 2015 in sight, Boeing was awarded an additional 591,2 million US dollars to the earlier contract, on 19 February 2015.
Boeing is producing the newest version of the attack helicopter in Mesa, Arizona. The aircraft manufacturer hopes for a lot more than just the 35 it is currently working on. Both Boeing and the US Army confirmed last month they were talking about a new agreement for a whopping 240 AH-64Es, to be procured through fiscal years 2017 to 2021, for an estimated 4 billion dollars.
Last year the Apache Guardian was fielded in a real-war theatre for the first time, when 12 AH-64Es deployed together with 10 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks and 15 Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors with the 229th Aviation Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington state to Afghanistan. Flying mainly out of Kandahar the Apache Guardians clocked about 11,000 flight hours.
Compared to earlier versions of the Apache, the Echo model has full digital cockpit avionics, a more powerful engine that also makes the chopper go faster (155 knots vs 125 on the D-model), rotor blades that can sustain damage better, a larger range and a longer in-the-air time.
The US Army will convert 634 AH-64D to the AH-64E standard, and get 56 new build Echos in the next decade. The AH-64E is in use by / ordered by Indonesia (8), the Republic of China Army (Taiwan, 29), the Republic of Korea Army (South Korea; 36) and the Royal Saudi Land Forces (unknown number).