Overblog
Suivre ce blog
Editer l'article Administration Créer mon blog
15 mars 2013 5 15 /03 /mars /2013 08:20

K-MAX in Afghanistan (USMC photo)

 

03/14/2013  Andrew Elwell - defenceiq.com

 

What’s the focus of the Defense and Strategic Studies Program at the United States Military Academy? What is your role?


The Defense and Strategic Studies Program is an academic major in the Department of Military Instruction at the United States Military Academy, West Point.  It is a multi-disciplinary major where our cadets are challenged to apply history, policy, and theory; frame complex strategic problems; and generate viable and innovative solutions to contemporary military problems. I am an academic instructor and course director for "DS385: Sustaining the Force."  In DS385 we look at a country's ability to Generate, Transport, Sustain, and Reallocate/Redeploy its fighting forces as a factor of military, and thus national, power. This includes historical and contemporary studies of military logistics at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war. This position is one of many that Army officers can apply for after their company command. I served in Baghdad, Iraq as a Platoon Leader in 2005 and as a planner and company commander in 2007-08. The Army then sent me to get my Masters Degree at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy in preparation for this assignment. It’s worth pointing out here that as a U.S. Army Armor Officer - not a logistician or aviation officer – I must emphasise that all of my contributions to the Gulf Military Helicopter Conference are academic and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the United States Military Academy, the U.S. Army, or the U.S. Department of Defense.

 

Could you please discuss and summarise your thoughts on the use of Cargo UAVs for the U.S. Army? What are the pros and cons?


The last 11 years of combat have forced the US military to consider a number of new technologies and systems. While tactics revolving around counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism gain a lot of attention, logistics considerations can often go underappreciated, and therefore under-analysed. Although unmanned technological integration is currently popular, it is not sensible for the Army to pursue a supply-oriented UAV when the funds for such a project could be used to augment current rotary-wing assets. Recent accolades for the United States Marine Corps’ use of Lockheed Martin’s K-MAX optionally-manned helicopter are, in my opinion, overblown, and fall short from legitimating widespread acquisition of the platform, or concept.

 

There are certainly pros and cons on both sides of the argument. Some argue that every load a cargo UAV carries reduces ground convoys that are vulnerable to threats inherent in modern warfare. Further, the current Syrian conflict has shown the vulnerability of cargo helicopters in the face of hybrid threats. Taking the pilot out of harm’s way when supplies are being moved across the battlefield seems to be a good idea. Finally, UAVs could alleviate the pilot rest cycle for aviation units, especially given that autonomous flight and tethering may be future capabilities.

 

My skepticism is rooted mainly in organisational issues. In order to carry loads that are meaningful in the resupply mission, the size of the craft will ultimately lack the flexibility found in reconnaissance UAVs, such as the Shadow. The large aircraft (the KMAX is as big as an AH-64 Apache) have requisite service personnel and maintenance that demand protected maintenance facilities. Furthermore, delivery accuracy assumes the existence of trained crews to be on the ground where the supplies are being delivered. One study on the topic implies that six crews are needed for each UAV. This would represent a significant increase in manpower in the “tail’ of the force for a capability that has a marginal net benefit.  I say this with all due respect to those logisticians

 

A closing thought for those who argue that the U.S. Army should adopt these platforms.  It is important to consider that no pilot is endangered when one of these choppers crashes or is shot down. One cannot forget, however, that the sensitive nature of the equipment on the UAV will still require an extensive recovery process, ground forces approaching a known objective. This should limit the argument that their use eliminates all risk. I look forward to discussing the concept with true aviators and members of the industry.

 

What about the drawdown from Afghanistan next year - could the logistics challenge there be aided with improvements to current rotary cargo aircraft?


I think that the reverse logistics of wide area security operations in terrain like Afghanistan places uniquely strenuous demands on rotary airlift units. It is easy enough to drop tonnage from fixed wing assets in large quantities, but when the equipment and personnel have to be extracted, rotary wing lift is critical. As the strength of the force reduces, it will be that much more difficult to secure the ground lines of communications. This brings up another point about the Cargo UAV problem. While transferring cargo and equipment between larger Forward/Main Operating Bases (FOBs) seems feasible, there would be significant additional requirements to allow cargo to be lifted by UAVs out of the smaller Combat Outposts (COPs) like those in Afghanistan.

Most importantly, I believe that the apparent direction modern warfare demands robust tactical airlift capabilities within modern forces. Manned, rotary, cargo lift provides flexibility and operational options to ground force commanders as they face the prospect of hybrid threats, a lack of a rear area, and dilapidated infrastructure.

 

What are you hoping to get out of the Gulf Military Helicopter conference? What will make it a successful conference for you?


As a professional officer, I look forward to this opportunity to learn. What better way than to do so from service members from so many different countries in the phenomenal setting of the Armed Forces Officers’ Club in the UAE? This experience can only make me a better officer. I hope that my presentation will contribute to any dialogue surrounding the testing, acquisition, and fielding of cargo UAVs.  Moreover, I hope to generate discussion about helicopters’ roles in military logistics.  I teach my cadets at West Point that military logistics, a country’s ability to generate-transport-sustain-redeploy its armed forces, is a key factor of military power, and therefore national power. The presence of organic cargo helicopters can therefore, in the words of Colin Gray, be the arbiter of military strategies.

Partager cet article

Published by RP Defense - dans North America
commenter cet article

commentaires

Présentation

  • : RP Defense
  • RP Defense
  • : Web review defence industry - Revue du web industrie de défense - company information - news in France, Europe and elsewhere ...
  • Contact

Recherche

Articles Récents

  • May edition of the EDA News Review for industry
    source European Defence Agency Places to be: workshops, events, exhibitions … 2nd conference of the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS): CF SEDSS has successfully started in January 2016. EDA is now...
  • Recherche de donneurs de sang de groupe O pour faire face aux besoins des armées
    source Entreprises partenaires de la défense Depuis le mois de février les stocks de sang de groupe O couvrent de plus en plus difficilement les besoins du Centre de transfusion sanguine des armées (CTSA). C'est la conséquence probable de la forte sollicitation...
  • Le renseignement aérien français de la BSS : 1/91 Gascogne
    « La souplesse facilite l’exécution des manœuvres. Le coup d’œil donne des corrections. Et l’instantanéité garantit la surprise ». Au-dessus de la Bande Sahélo-Saharienne, sous les lourds rayons du soleil, volent les pilotes de l’armée de l’Air. Les missions...
  • 70 ans de l’ONERA – ITW de Bruno Sainjon, Président de l’ONERA
    photo ONERA 03/05/2016 par Alain Establier - SECURITY DEFENSE Business Review n°149 SDBR : L’ONERA va fêter ses 70 ans le 3 Mai 2016. Qu’est-ce qui différencie l’ONERA de 1946 et celui d’aujourd’hui ? Bruno Sainjon : L’Office National d’Etudes et de Recherche...
  • De Saint-Cyr aux Invalides : L’École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr court pour les blessés de l’Armée de Terre
    source Promotion Chef d’escadrons de Neuchèze En soutien aux blessés de guerre, la promotion Chef d’escadrons de Neuchèze de l’École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr organise, du 05 au 07 mai, une course en relais de 450 km entre le camp de Coëtquidan...
  • Cérémonie d’honneurs militaires aux soldats français du 511e RT morts au Mali
    Paris, le lundi 18 avril 2016 - source GMP Le général de corps d’armée Bruno Le Ray, gouverneur militaire de Paris, vous informe des honneurs militaires qui seront rendus au soldat de 1ère classe Mickaël POO-SING, au maréchal des logis Damien NOBLET et...
  • News review for Industry - EU Defence Agency
    Edition 5 - April 2016 EU Defence Agency Places to be: workshops, events, exhibitions … Ammunition Safety Test House Workshop in Thun (CH) : The EDA - European Network of National Safety Authorities for Ammunition (ENNSA) G is organising an Ammunition...
  • Towards an EU global strategy – Consulting the experts
    14 April 2016 source EUISS The EUISS – in close cooperation with the Strategic Planning Division of the European External Action Service (EEAS) – has carried out a wide-ranging outreach and consultation process involving the broader expert community represented...
  • Envisioning European defence – Five futures
    13 April 2016 Chaillot Paper - No137 - Jan Joel Andersson , Sven Biscop, Bastian Giegerich, Christian Mölling, Thierry Tardy This Chaillot Paper – a collective endeavour on which the five authors have collaborated – outlines five possible future scenarios...
  • Security Jam du 25 au 28 avril 2016
    source IRSEM Participez au Security Jam du 25 au 28 avril 2016 et prenez ainsi votre part dans la réflexion menée par l’UE dans le cadre de sa nouvelle Stratégie sur la sécurité et la politique étrangère et par l’OTAN en vue de son sommet de Varsovie...

Categories