As has been noted;
” The attack helicopter is one element of a four-pillared tactical helicopter capability common to tactical aviation; the others are reconnaissance, utility, and medium-lift helicopters.”
In terms of Tactical helicopters
has just one type, the Griffon utility helicopter. Canada
Other countries have a mixed force, in some cases with just a few of each type. This might work for a country the size of
Belgium it doesn’t necessarily work for a sized country. Having 100 helicopters of one type, in this case CH-146 Griffons, meets the need for having a sustainable number. Canada
At one time it was Air Force policy to limit the number of types in service so as to have scales of economy in spares, maintenance and training. It was understood that small groups of unrelated aircraft were not sustainable.
Right now we have Sea-king maritime helicopters to be replaced by CH-149 Cyclones. We have CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopters, we have CH-146 Griffon utility helicopters and we are getting CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters
The Cormorants replaced
Labradors and Voyageurs which were used for medium troop lift as well as search & rescue. The Cormorants themselves were originally to be used both as maritime helicopters and for search & rescue missions.
The Chinooks will provide troop transport and heavy lift functions.
The Griffons are used for reconnaissance, armed escort, and utility.
We really need only two types of helicopters. We need a small to medium sized helicopter for reconnaissance, armed escort, and utility. It should be partnered with a medium to large sized helicopter type for troop lift, search & rescue and maritime duties. With just two types in service they could be purchased in large enough numbers to reach a critical mass in terms of economic use. Larger numbers would also insure greater industrial benefits from suppliers.
For the smaller helicopter I would propose the UH-72A Lakota. Currently in service with the U.S. Army as a utility helicopter it has been offered as an armed reconnaissance variant to meet a
specification. Smaller then a Griffon it can be much more heavily armed and would be more useful as a multi-purpose type. U.S.
Three (pilot, co-pilot & flight engineer)
8 troops or 2 stretchers and medical crew
10 troops or 6 stretchers (some sources state maximum 8 passengers)
13.03 m (42 ft 7 in)
17.1 m (56 ft 1 in)
11.00 m (36 ft 1 in)
14 m (45 ft 11 in)
3.45 m (11 ft 9 in)
4.6 m (15 ft 1 in)
1,792 kg (3,950)
3,079 kg (6,789 )
1,792 kg (3,950 lb)
2,286 kg (5,039 lbs)
MAX TAKEOFF WEIGHT
3,585 kg (903 lb)
5,355 kg (11,900 lb)
2 × Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshafts, 738 shp (551 kW) each
2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3D turboshaft engine, 900 shp (671 kW) each
269 km/h (145 knots,167 mph)
260 km/h (139 knots, 160 mph)
246 km/h (133 knots, 153 mph)
220 km/h (118 knots, 136 mph)
685 km/h (370 knots, 426 mph)
656 km (354 nm, 405 mi)
5,791 m (18,000)
6,096 m (20,000 ft)
RATE OF CLIMB
8.13 m/s (1,600 ft/min)
6.86 m/s (1,350 ft/min)
If the current Griffon force were replaced before the end of there airframe lives they could profitably be used by the reserves. Currently 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Borden and 438e Escadron tactique d'hélicoptères in St. Hubert provide tactical helicopter support to the army flying CH-146 Griffon helicopters and are considered to be "reserve-heavy" with reserve force commanding officers. In the past Auxiliary squadrons were considered to be an important and economic part of the total Air Force. They could be again.
There are several choices for the larger type but the Cormorant would be the best. It is available now in maritime, troop carrier, and search & rescue models. It’s powerful enough to fill in for the Chinooks and small enough (just) to fit on a frigate.
4 (2 pilots, 1 tactical coordinator, 1 sensor operator
5 (Aircraft Commander, First Officer, Flight Engineer, 2 SAR Techs)
3 (pilot, copilot, flight engineer)
6 in mission config, up to 22 in utility config
30 seated troops or 45 standing troops or 16 stretchers with 2 attendants
33 seated troops or 55 standing troops or 24 stretchers with 3 attendants
20.9 m (68 ft 6 in)
22.81 m (74 ft 10 in)
30.1 m (98 ft 10 in)
7.7 m (15 ft 5 in)
6.65 m (21 ft 10 in)
5.7 m (18 ft 11 in)
10,500 kg (23,149 lb)
10,185 kg (23,400 lb)
MAX TAKE-OFF WEIGHT
14,580 kg (32,143 lb)
22,2680 kg (50,000 lb)
2 × General Electric CT7-8A7 turboshaft, 2,238kW (3,000 shp) each
3 × General Electric T700-T6A1 turboshaft, 1,286 kW (1,725 hp) each
2 × Lycoming T55-GA-714A turboshaft, 3,296 kW (4,733 hp) each
MAIN ROTAR DIAMETER
17.7 m (S-92)
58 ft 1 in (S-92)
18.59 m (61 ft 0 in)
18.3 m (60 ft 0 in)
306 km/h (190 mph, 165 knots)
309 km/h (192 mph, 167 knots)
315 km/h (196 mph, 170 knots)
254 km/h (158 mph, 137 knots)
275 km/h (170 mph, 151 knots)
240 km/h (149 mph 130 knots)
450 km (280 mi, 245 nmi)
1,389 km (863 mi, 750 nmi)
741 km (450 mi, 400 nmi)
4,572 m (15,000 ft)
4,575 m (15,010 ft)
5,640 m (18,500 ft)
RATE OF CLIMB
10.2 m/s (2,010 ft/min)
7.73 m/s (1,522 ft/min)
Any policy which leads to fewer types in service, and more helicopters over all, would be an improvement. The chances of it happening are not high however. It would mean a nimble procurement system and a sustained policy, neither being attributes commonly ascribed to the Department of National Defence.
In the unlikely event of this happening there are several probable scenarios. Below are several choices. They are arranged in order of most desirable to least and least likely to come about to most probable.
CORMARANTS & LAKOTAS – AUXILLERY GRIFFONS
Scenario one is the best outcome and least likely to happen. Under this unlikely scenario maritime, medium lift and troop transport roles, as well as search and rescue are handled by Cormorant variants. Reconnaissance, armed escort and utility duties are the responsibility of Lakota helicopters and the Griffons are formed into auxiliary or reserve squadrons. This program would result in reasonable numbers of all types. It would also mean lower training and maintenance costs. Given greater numbers being purchased it might also mean greater industrial benefits and greater national autonomy.
CYCLONES & LAKOTAS – AUXILLERY GRIFFONS
In this scenario Cyclones would substitute for Cormorants. A lighter helicopter, not capable of carrying as heavy a load as a Cormorant, the Cyclones would have to make up for this by being purchased in greater numbers. As in the first scenario reconnaissance, armed escort and utility duties are the responsibility of Lakota helicopters and the Griffons would be formed into auxiliary or reserve squadrons. Again the benefits of this program would include having reasonable numbers of all types along with lower training and maintenance costs. As before, larger numbers being purchased could also mean that we could negotiate better industrial benefits and retain greater national control over production.
CYCLONES, LAKOTAS, & CHINOOKS – AUXILLERY GRIFFONS
In this scenario the Cyclones are purchased in smaller numbers and troop lift is left to the, previously purchase, Chinooks with some Cyclones having a troop support role. Lakota’s and Griffons are used in the same way as the previous scenarios. The benefits of this scenario are keeping the heavy lift Chinook helicopters. The downside is having a greater number of types in the inventory with corresponding costs in training and maintenance.
CYCLONES, CHINOOKS, GRIFFONS
In this scenario Cyclones replace the Cormorants in search & rescue activities as well as supplying some, limited, troop lift capability. It doesn’t necessarily mean purchasing more Cyclones as this scenario envisions somebody noticing that we have more maritime helicopters then ships that can carry them and that our small force of Cormorants apparently can’t be economically supported. The Griffons carry on as before and nobody has to change much. It’s not necessarily a preferred outcome, just a likely one.
CYCLONES, CORMARANTS, CHINOOKS & GRIFFONS
In this most likely and least desirable scenario all goes according to current plans. Cyclones replace Sea Kings, Cormorants carry on as search and rescue aircraft, the Chinooks come in to service, in one squadron, and the Griffons go on until replaced by some similar helicopter which can be fitted with the reconnaissance and weapons packages now available to the Griffons. This scenario commends itself to those who can not envision any other way of doing things. It also contains the worst elements of our current situation. Small groups of many helicopters which fail to reach “critical mass”, which are expensive to maintain, and which are vulnerable to budget cuts.