Thursday, 5 March 2009

Calling for choppers - the current shortage of utility helicopters

The recent news regarding doubts over the renewal of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Darfur, Sudan, reminded opswarfare of another issue, the shortage of helicopters in operations.

3 examples come to mind
  • lack of choppers for NATO in Afghanistan
  • insufficient helicopters for the relief effort in Sichuan, China
  • no pledge of helicopter transport for UN mission in Darfur
But before one jumps to quick conclusions, there are different factors at play for each of the 3 cases mentioned, and we need to look at these factors, before we start talking about solutions.

Helicopters for combat in Afghanistan
low threat level of MANPADS (although RPGs are sometimes used as makeshift alternative)
choppers useful for quick insertion of troops and supplies
usage means travelling by road is reduced (and reduced IED threat)
critical for casualty evacuation (casevac)

Helicopters for utility in Sichuan, China
remote region where earthquake hit
heavy lifting

Helicopters for peacekeeping in Darfur
long distances, lack of road network
insufficient troops to station everywhere; helicopters aid as quick reaction force

(was stuck in draft since August 2008...)

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