Slide 15 of 65Small Observation/Attack/Transport Helicopter "Killer Bees"
Wouldn't it be better to have 2 x 4-man fireteams (Squad leader in left front seat) in 2 x MH-6 NOTAR Little Bird helicopters (armed) each with a recovery parachute to land safely if shot down than 1 x 9 man squad in one loud tail-rotor albeit well-armored UH-60L Blackhawk with no escape system but must crash land if shot down?
We know that the UH-60 is legendary for its ability to take battle damage and survive. But we have to face the facts that the UH-60/AH-64 COMBO IS KILLING ARMY AVIATION WITH MAINTENANCE WOES AND KILLING TROOPS ON THE GROUND WHO DO NOT HAVE MANEUVER AIR SUPPORT to stop roadside bombers.
Little Birds are the best sizing for something that flies 300 miles on just 53 gallons of fuel, are easy-to-maintain, yet can attack with rockets, ATGMs, autocannon or lift 4, 000 pounds or 6 combat troops.
In 1995, U.S. Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS accepted an article by 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne) Director Mike Sparks proposing small OH-58D Kiowa Warrior "killer bees" be located on the Navy's new Patrol Coastal (PC) ships via adding a small helipad to give the SEALS an air insertion & attack capability.
They paid him for the article, but never printed it. Did someone scare them off? Would it "rock-the-boat" (pardon the pun) too much?
Its ironic, since according to John Pike of GlobalSecurity the Navy discovered the PCs were too large for coastal inshore work ie; get close enough to deliver SEAL teams by small RIB boat. Pike says:
"They have limited endurance for their size, and their combat systems and ammunition allowance do not compare well with similar ships in most other navies. They are about ten times the size of their predecessors but carry about the same payload. It was belatedly discovered that they are too large for the close inshore work for which they were intended."
Maybe if they had printed Sparks' article and added helicopter pads for small helicopters back in '95 the Navy wouldn't be getting rid of the PCs and giving them to the Coast Guard?
Carlton Meyer suggests going to a piston-engined helicopter to reduce logistics further and achieve the same "Killer Bee" effect on a smaller scale.
There are now DeltaHawk Diesel/JP-8 heavy fuel engines that first flew in a LongEZ that have yet to be applied to a small helicopter...operative word is "yet".
* greater safety and fuel economy! Engine weighs just 327 lbs!
* Caveat: Delta Force moves their Little Birds around in panel trucks for example.
Our beef with 160th SOAR and Army Scout helo community in general is:
a. Not painting their helos in gray/tan
b. not using NOTAR to not be so loud (use larger engine if you lose 15% lift)
c. not using Piaseki wings/thrusters to go faster (200 mph) and farther (2, 000 miles in case of UH-60)
d. not having a recovery parachute (RP) in the tail
e. Not having it "bread 'n butter" to move themselves and their aircraft by prime mover 'n trailer so we do not have to always work around the aircraft
An Iraq combat vet writes:
"Are you suggesting a top to bottom change instead of an augmantation to allow troops SOME 24/7 avaition assets? One possible problem with that is that xxx's confirmation of being able to support a 2-3 bird section at Battalion level [see below], requires larger aviation assets in theatre if I read it right. Of course these could come from any of the other services, since they ALL use helos, particularly if we were to use a better JTFC. MacGregor's groups comes to mind as a good example.
I have a question. I feel that there is a place for both independent Aviation Brigades (espicially if the Army ever unties it's hands and uses some fixed wing assets) and for small, low-maintenace birds w/i the Comabt Brigades or Battalions. The Kiowa (pre-scout) is an example of the size and concept I am refering too (I know that Kiowas are old airframes and not being built, I am not suggesting using them). This chopper could have lifted a FT or provided scout assisance or firepower or medevac etc. Could a battalion have a 2-3 bird section supported by, say 4-5 trucks/tracks and personel moved by said vehicles? Part of the requirement in my head is that the chopper be small enough to towed overland to an LSA or airbase for repairs if it took extensive battledamage or had a major breakdown. I know limited ammo and ammo types could be moved w/ the Battalion, but Brigade or theatre could provide specific resupply if deemed nesseccary (Tanks in area! HELLFIRES will be LOGPACed/CHOPPERED in w/i 4 hours. standby.) Seems doable w/o causing undue strain if proper airframe was selected, but airframes are NOT my knowledge base, so pose the question to you."
A MSGT crew chief in the USAF writes:
"Re: "Little Birds and U/MCAVs"
Of course an excellent idea but the first thing comes to mind is the phrase 'operator PMCS'. Well, for unmanned craft perhaps. There are pilots, there are maintainers, but there are very few pilot-maintainers and fewer still that are any good. The work is too much for just the aircrew to handle.
Even presuming a simple aircraft or helo I suggest operator training be based on being able to preflight/postflight and identify discrepancies. The crew chiefs could be 'all systems' with a few avionics/instrument specs available. The aircraft would need little depot time, and could easily be phase inspected in the field, but not 'years at a time with operator PMCS'.
Engine changes, top-end jobs, flight control cable rigging, etc are common tasks for a mechanic but way beyond what one should expect of a pilot (who also has to maintain flying proficiency). When the aircraft is being turned for its next sortie is the time for pilots to debrief, swap out, etc while the crew chiefs and weapons loaders refuel, rearm, and inspect. Crew rest alone would preclude pilots doing combat and maintenance.
Not to say that support wouldn't be a breeze. I'd enjoy working birds like the ones discussed and we could do it with a vastly lighter logistic tail.
Three basic helos would be supportable by a few trucks/tracks/PLSs. Roughly guesstimating one truck for tools/equipment/spares, couple/three for initial fuel and ordnance, one for personnel with trailers for each truck/track. A fuel pump and empty FLEX-CELL bladders should be an option so as not to tie up future fuel trucks waiting to be used.
Trailers could be loaded with stores for outbound trip, loaded with any busted helos for return since they would normally be flown to site. If I were tasked with doing this I'd look to palletize whatever I could for AIR mobility because it has advantages for GROUND mobility. Since a three-bird section is so small I'd use ISU-90KCs for the tools and support equipment. It would be a free lunch with standard parts, and the ISUs could be fitted with standard towbar/caster wheel kits for easy handling when offloaded. You could make a simple air/ground/sea mobile package, and the support equipment/tools/etc for three helos should easily fit in a 20ft ISO for storage.
Follow me here, throwing rocks as required:
20ft standard ISO box holds mix of wheel castered ISU-90KCs and palletized support equipment, along with an aluminum dock ramp.
Drop the box, pop the doors, roll out the goodies, use the box for shelter/shop space. (Wiring harnesses from standard tents, sleeping hammocks and gear can be carabinered to the internal ISO box cargo tiedown loops on the ceiling, and 18-wheeler load lock bars can hold poncho/expedient fabric partitions/"spank walls" when they aren't restraining gear. If you remove the end pads most load locks will slip into the tiedown loops and hold more vertical weight. The temporary lights in my shop hang this way.)
Need to fly the package? Tote the box, unload the air-mobile contents which are prepacked with Haz Decs filled out, then fly to location via military or civilian air freight. ISO stays behind, but it was standard so it can be used for other cargo. Load ISU-90KCs on generic ground transport when in theater. Casters and tow bars fit INSIDE ISUs for ground handling once unloaded. Beats needing a forklift for every ISU movement...
Helo trailers could be built with simple slide-in rear ramps and tongues so they compact for transport. Helo should have a winch point so it could conveniently be dragged onto trailers/into or onto trucks. ISU/aircraft pallet attach points on the helo trailer would be just one more thing that makes the system versatile.
Cheap, simple, mostly COTS, and the helo-trailer would be an easy local fab.
More on Aviation support equipment:
I forgot to add that as a general rule the amount of specific support equipment required for a group of aircraft does not scale linearly if you are at the same location.
The deployed basic maintenance support (heavy maintenance tool boxes, test equipment, slings, tire changing equip, spare engines/WRSK/bench stock/etc) could be roughly the same for three or seven aircraft. You add more crew chief and weapons load tool boxes, for example, but since the use of other gear is staggered rather then being required for each sortie you don't double the amount for double the birds.
Once you have the basic packages in place, rapid movement from one EDO lily pad to another with aircraft alone should be supportable with practice. Hardstands to work next to aircraft as well as landing points safe from "brown-outs" which can destroy $million dollar aircraft and lose lives can be created be pouring Rhino Snot sealant into the ground."
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Steve Cook writes:
"H-60's aren't as difficult to service and maintain as AH-64s, so I would go with H-60's over AH-64's. Smaller birds like the MH-6 you mentioned would probably be even better. Carlton Meyer's idea of using piston-engined helos has merit, as they might be less susceptible to sand damage than turboshaft engines, if fitted with dust filters. But on the other hand, currently there are no military personnel trained to service piston-powered aircraft, they are only trained to work on turbine-engined aircraft, so that would be a problem. Also, most reciprocating (piston) engines require dangerous high-octane aviation fuel, leading to more logistical problems, since everything else runs on JP diesel/jet fuel. The new A/MH-6 variant called the MELB (Mission Enhanced Little Bird) would probably be the best choice.
The problem is we don't have any maintenance personnel trained to service/repair piston-engined aircraft. We would need to develop a piston-engine mechanics' school to train the powerplant ground crews. I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but it's a factor that has to be considered. IMO, we should train military aircraft mechanics the same way civilian aircraft mechanics are trained, to work on the whole aircraft, not just parts of it. This type of training also covers piston and jet engines. Probably not feasible under our current force structure, but it's something I would look into if we get the chance to develop an APF [All Professional Force] military.
A MSGT in the USAF replies:
"Concur on the piston engines.
Turbines can be made multi-fuel, perform better at altitude, and can be easily up-trimmed by adjusting the fuel control (costs some service life) for more horsepower when needed.
They are light for the power produced, and JP-8 is far less explosive than avgas or mogas, which would be a supply nightmare requiring a separate fuel support trail.
With JP-8, if needed you could easily tap off any other acft/helo defuel receptacle (by running the acft to build pressure or pressurizing with a compressor as in an ordinary defuel), not to mention simple draining.
The FLEXCEL and FAST are very cool tech. With a decent air compressor (to pressurize the aircraft) you could refill them from C-130s or whatever aircraft you can fly in to site. I'd make a transfer adapter from a common single-point fuel nozzle, a 1/4-turn shutoff valve, an appropriate length of small-diameter hose, and a quick-disconnect at the cell end. A pressure guage on the adapter would make monitoring easy, and all the parts are COTS and inexpensive. A kit could contain a small diesel-driven compressor (so it can run JP-8), a universal transfer hose kit (air manifold, air hoses, fuel hoses, fittings, Teflon tape, and hand tools), a basic set of bladders, and a wheeled fire extinguisher. A pneumatic-driven pump (since air is available) would be a convenient way to pump fuel from vehicle tanks or other non-pressurized vessels. With a little forethought and not much gear you can swap fuel to and from any container or vehicle. Even though these are for use on the ground, I'd still try to size the kit to fit 463L pallets so it is airmobile/airdroppable. Any chance of getting photos of a palletized FAST for reference?
If piston engine can be protected by filters, so can turbines. I realize the CFM difference is huge, but if a particle separator does not do enough a filtered intake with precautionary spring-loaded blow-in doors might work well. If the coarse (fine particles are digestible) filter clogs, the inlet vacuum pulls in the lightly-sprung blow in doors and you get air so you don't compressor stall. Small ones work for ground F-16 engine bay cooling, and are closed by ram air in flight.
IANAAE (I Am Not An Aeronautical Engineer) but between having high intakes and (easily removable when not needed due to horsepower penalty and for ease of maintenance) separator/filters one should be able to fly off some crusty strips.
1st TSG (A) REPLY:
463L pallets are weak aluminum pallets with a soft balsa core and not parachute airdropped. The most aggressive 463L use is to airland the plane and push them off the rear ramp at a slow taxi. (OWW!).
The Container Delivery System (CDS) is an expensive mess. Its an expensive and heavy A-22 canvass bag with honeycomb and a plywood skidboard underneath. Bottom line?
Its too many "inexpensive" throwaway plywood/honeycomb to train on regularly! With no way to get it and the supplies delivered off the drop zone.
Here is a solution using ECDS re-usable pallets and Spirit of America's Butch Walker's ANT-ISO to get us training as we should fight and get the supplies off the drop zone!
Expeditionary Dispersed Operations (EDOs) need pods to carry spare parts/tools
EDO Web Page
Little Birds have interior volume for 4 persons or spare parts/tools. However this may not be enough and the hard points need to be used as a means to carry gear.
Small cargo bay
A MSGT in the USAF continues:
"A nice thing about working on [fixed-wing] OV-10s was that we could stuff parts and tools in the cargo bay, a technician in the aft seat, and fix them where they broke. A small payload capacity in a simple fuselage layout can pay off nicely."
Travel pods and hardpoints
"Old napalm canisters with spun aluminum nose and tail cones and a Dzus-fastened side door are the standard used for carrying clothes/gear/small parts/tools etc.
Anything with hardpoints could carry lightweight travel pods to enhance self-deployment and ferry small items. These can be MEDEVAC pods like OH-13 'MASH' helicopters used in the Korean War since small helicopters and fixed-wing observation/attack planes like the OV-1 Mohawk don't have the room to lay out an injured patient on his back on a stretcher."
Steve Cook writes:
"I like your idea about carrying spare parts and tools in pods. That could be very helpful, especially if a bird gets hit in combat and needs repairs to make it back to base or a friendly area."
In fact, OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and/or AH/MH-6 Little Birds can be carried INSIDE and transported in ISO SEA/AIR/LAND containers!
C 1, TM 55-1520-400-14 CHAPTER 8 TRANSPORTABILITY GUIDANCE, OH-6 HELlCOPTER
Section I. TRANSPORT OF THE OH-6 HELlCOPTER IN CONTAINER
Minimum disassembly applicable to all surface modes is removal of main rotor blades and horizontal stabilizer. CAUTION TM 55-1520-214-S will be consulted before any disassembly and loading takes place.
Only container chassis trailers equipped with soft ride suspension system will be used to transport the container by highway to the port. The use of soft ride suspension chassis trailers within the port is not necessary. Deviations from the procedure will be authorized only by Commander. TSARCOM. Stuffing the container at locations other than the port is not recommended.
Preparation Disassembly, preservation, and packaging are accomplished in accordance with TM 55-1520-214-S. Additional guidance may be obtained through contact with personnel of the U.S. Army Troop Support and Aviation Material Readiness Command, St. Louis, MO. To reduce congestion in the vicinity of the loading area, the main rotor blades, vertical and horizontal stabilizers, tail rotor, and mast and rotor head are removed prior to positioning the helicopter at the loading site. The main rotor blades are packed in a plywood container; the mast and rotor head secured to a skin-mounted base; the horizontal stabilizer is placed in a fiberboard carton; that is secured to the prefabricated metal spreader bar (para 8-4a): and the tail rotor and vertical stabilizer are wrapped in a protective material and secured in the helicopter cabin.
NOTE Remove antennas as necessary; wrap, identify, and stow in cargo compartment, as required.
8-2. Positioning For Loading
The loading site should be a loading platform equal in height to the height of the container floor. The helicopter can be moved short distances over smooth surfaces by means of ground-handling wheels, tow bar, and warehouse tractor. Maneuver the helicopter (with the aid of the ground-handling wheels) to the rear of the container and align the container door for loading.
Extreme care must be taken in loading and unloading helicopters to prevent gouging, scratching, or tearing the airframe skin.
a. General. Bridging material is to be placed directly in front of the landing skids. It consists of ½-inch (1.2 cm) thick plywood or ¼-inch (.6 cm-) thick steel plate sufficiently wide to accommodate the ground-handling wheels and landing skids and long enough to span the distance between the loading platform and the inside of the container; extending beyond the rear door header. When safety requirements do not restrict, paste soap or grease may be applied on the bridging material to facilitate skidding the helicopter through the container door. The ground-handling wheels are removed and reinstalled after the high point of the helicopter clears the container door header. To help reduce the height of the helicopter, the landing skid struts may have to be extended to their maximum position and secured in the extended position, this is done with prefabricated spreader bars or with notched and cushioned 4- by 4-inch (10- by 10-cm) lumber spreader tiedown pieces. Approximate measurements of major removed and packaged components for each helicopter are as follows: Main rotor blades: 144- x 10- x 17 in. (366- x 25- x 43-cm) Mast and rotor head: 30- x 30- x 30-in. (76 x 76- x 76-cm) 8-1
CHAPTER 4 TRANSPORTABILITY GUIDANCE, OH58 HELICOPTER
Section I. TRANSPORT OF OH58 HELICOPTER IN CONTAINERS
TM 55-1500-338-S will be consulted before any disassembly and loading takes place. Container chassis trailers equipped with soft-ride suspension system will be used only to transport the container by highway to the port. The use of soft-ride suspension chassis trailers within the port is not necessary. Deviations from this procedure will be authorized only by Commander, TSARCOM. Stuffing the container at locations other than the port is not recommended.
Disassembly, preservation, and packaging are accomplished in accordance with TM 551500 338-S. Additional guidance may be obtained by contacting the U.S. Army Troop Support and Aviation Material Readiness Command (TSAR- COM), St. Louis, MO 63166. To reduce congestion in the vicinity of the loading area, the main rotor blades are removed and protected with cushioning material for later loading under helicopter cabin. The following items are re- moved, wrapped with cushioning material, and secured in the helicopter cabin: pitot tube, top anticollision light fixture, engine exhaust stacks, main rotor hub, main rotor drive shaft, main rotor mast, tail boom support, tail rotor blades, and antennas (as necessary). The verti- cal fin and horizontal stabilizer are removed and boxed. The tail boom section is removed, and the tail rotor rods are removed from the tail boom; then the tail boom is mounted on top of the helicopter fuselage.
42. Positioning for Loading
The loading site should be a loading platform with a height equal to the height of the container floor. Two ground-handling wheel assemblies are used for moving the helicopter on the ground. Each assembly consists of a wheel, support, and lever that is used to retract or extend the wheels. The wheels are manually oper- ated and are held in place by a lock pin. The helicopter (with the aid of the wheels) should be maneuvered to the rear of the container and aligned with the container door for loading.
Extreme care must be taken in loading and unloading helicopters to prevent gouging, scratching, or tearing the air- frame skin. a. General. Bridging material is placed be- tween the loading dock and container in front of the landing skids. It consists of ½-inch-(1.27-cm) thick plywood or ¼-inch-(.63-cm) thick steel plate of sufficient width to accommodate the widest point on the helicopter and of sufficient length to span the distance between the loading platform and extending into the container beyond the rear door header. Approximate measurements of removed and packaged com- ponents for each helicopter are as follows: Vertical fin assembly: 86- x 45¼- x 6¼-in. (218- X 115- X 15.9-cm) Horizontal stabilizer: 81- x 20- x 7-in. (205.7- x 50.8- x 17.8-cm) b. Two Helicopters on Loading Skids in 35- or 40-Foot Containers. The two boxed vertical fins are placed on end, one on each side at the front of the container. The first helicopter is moved into the container nose first, with the aid of ground-handling wheels, and is positioned 4 inches (10 cm) from the front of the container with left rear end and right front end of the landing skids close to the sides of the container (fig. 4-1). The two boxed horizontal stabilizers are then placed side by side between the landing skids under the helicopter. The second helicopter is moved, tail first, into a position similar to that of the first helicopter with the nose 4 inches (10 cm) from the door of the container. The main rotor blades are protected with cushioning ma- terial and secured to the main rotor blade tiedown fixture under the second helicopter (fig 4-1
Here is a picture of two OH-58s in an ISO container:
Thus, small NLMB OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and/or AH/MH-6 Little Bird attack/transport helicopters could be hid in ISO containers and trucked to FAARPs and operated clandestinely.