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Australia dumps troubled European-designed Taipan helicopters


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The Australian Defence Force will ditch its entire fleet of troubled European-designed Taipan helicopters a decade earlier than scheduled, replacing them with new Black Hawks and Seahawks imported from the United States. 

 

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At 46% availability, these things have to be the Leyland P76 of military rotorcraft! Imagine the situation if we had to fight in Vietnam with these things, instead of UH-1's! The losses, in terms of life, firstly, and financial losses secondly, would have been horrendous. 

 

This is one time where the Govt has made a satisfactory military purchase decision.

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In this day and age, how hard can it be to repair the problems?   I bet if they were auctioned off to private enterprise they would find a way. But it’s far easier for Govt to just bin them and spend a few more billions on a replacement.

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Jackc - The problems with the Taipan were more far-reaching than any private enterprise operation would be able to fix. I mean, how do you fix Taipan cargo doors that are too small? That is simply a massive basic design error, that shows up the inability of the Taipan designers to even get the important priorities sorted. These things are obviously Citroen cars close cousin.

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16 hours ago, onetrack said:

Jackc - The problems with the Taipan were more far-reaching than any private enterprise operation would be able to fix. I mean, how do you fix Taipan cargo doors that are too small? That is simply a massive basic design error, that shows up the inability of the Taipan designers to even get the important priorities sorted. These things are obviously Citroen cars close cousin.

 It may be a design fault , but isn’t the responsibility on the Aussie Government to research and acquire a machine that’s fit for purpose in the first place . The Australian Government has a poor record when it comes to making decisions regarding rotary winged machines , just look at the Tiger and who can forget the Kaman Sea Sprite fiasco .

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Doors of size “x” when you need “x+” is not a design fault.  It’s a procurement failure on the part of the Australian military and/or govt. 

 

if the manufacturer said they could/would redesign to “x+” and they didn’t then that’s also a procurement contracting failure - we failed to make sure it is +
 

general serviceability is always an issue for military hardware.  It’s expensive to buy.  Expensive to maintain. But has to be available.  If the airframe was unable to meet serviceability levels with specified usage AND that was in the procurement process then manufacturer might be responsible.  But if it’s not it’s on us. 
 

now if the real reason is that a slightly smaller capacity more robustly built machine that our military has decades of experience with is easier to change to and achieve the serviceability and availablity requirements then continue with them then the decision to scrap early and replace is probably the right decision

 

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As Yampy has said the whole problem is not with the supplier, it is with the buyer, ie the Aussie government.

First the submarines, now the helicopters.

I see the latest is that one of the top defence chiefs wants to build a conventional submarine to tide us over until the nuclear powered version is available. Isn't that what we were doing with the French sub?

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All too many confuse two major conflicts here.

 These are firstly, advice on defence materiel is given by defence panels and secondly, the government who then makes the decisions on  what contracts are awarded.

Australian governments from both parties have ignored defence choices for many years on too many occasions because they are chasing the short term voting popularity. At times contradicting defence advice.

Our military personnel are then forced to operate the provided hardware and only speak in glowing terms about it.

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Military of today are Snowflakes, no guts…no glory.  In my military days, IF something was no good I told them, AND had a plan to fix it. Just like Aeroprakt of recent times, was interested in an aircraft but wanted some logical and safe engineering changes and was told in no uncertain terms a big NO.  So I said forget it……

Same at Brumby  Cowra, gave them my request for a change and was told NO, walked out the door…….

Plenty of choices in this World, even for the military…….

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20 hours ago, tillmanr said:

All too many confuse two major conflicts here.

 These are firstly, advice on defence materiel is given by defence panels and secondly, the government who then makes the decisions on  what contracts are awarded.

Australian governments from both parties have ignored defence choices for many years on too many occasions because they are chasing the short term voting popularity. At times contradicting defence advice.

Our military personnel are then forced to operate the provided hardware and only speak in glowing terms about it.

Yes, something NQR between the two.

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On 13/12/21 at 4:46 PM, jackc said:

Military of today are Snowflakes, no guts…no glory.  In my military days, IF something was no good I told them, AND had a plan to fix it. Just like Aeroprakt of recent times, was interested in an aircraft but wanted some logical and safe engineering changes and was told in no uncertain terms a big NO.  So I said forget it……

Same at Brumby  Cowra, gave them my request for a change and was told NO, walked out the door…….

Plenty of choices in this World, even for the military…….

What didn’t you like about the Aeroprakt aircraft? 

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Eurocopter and spares are problematic, I get that. But all I can say is in South Africa, the SAAF operated Pumas and later the Oryx hPuma airframe with Super Puma engines and gearboxes, upgraded cockpit) for over 40 years, getting excellent service out of them. Yes, the honeycomb floors were soft, but then 5mm super wood load spreader floor coverings were fitted, solving the problem. The aircraft had two big cabin sliding doors, but not the rear ramp which surely is a great feature? Just seems strange that these Taipan helicopters, made by the same people, were so troublesome?

One big culture clash was the loadmaster/door gunner. I believe Pumas and Eurocopter products were never designed to defend themselves in a hot LZ. That’s the orbiting gunships job, and the defence from the troops exiting the helicopter. in the SAAF we flew with flight engineers. They carried out certain flight duties and all loading and field maintenance duties. They were good, they could change an engine, in the bush. To me, a better config than door gunners?

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3 hours ago, F10 said:

Eurocopter and spares are problematic, I get that. But all I can say is in South Africa, the SAAF operated Pumas and later the Oryx hPuma airframe with Super Puma engines and gearboxes, upgraded cockpit) for over 40 years, getting excellent service out of them. Yes, the honeycomb floors were soft, but then 5mm super wood load spreader floor coverings were fitted, solving the problem. The aircraft had two big cabin sliding doors, but not the rear ramp which surely is a great feature? Just seems strange that these Taipan helicopters, made by the same people, were so troublesome?

One big culture clash was the loadmaster/door gunner. I believe Pumas and Eurocopter products were never designed to defend themselves in a hot LZ. That’s the orbiting gunships job, and the defence from the troops exiting the helicopter. in the SAAF we flew with flight engineers. They carried out certain flight duties and all loading and field maintenance duties. They were good, they could change an engine, in the bush. To me, a better config than door gunners?

That's very much like the fights (politics) that go on when designing a car or truck in Australia. Each group has a different way of doing things and passionately believe they are right; each core design has weaknesses, each has advantages, and if you're lucky you can reach a point where you incorporate all the advantages and eliminate all the weaknesses, but I've never seen it done.

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4 hours ago, turboplanner said:

That's very much like the fights (politics) that go on when designing a car or truck in Australia. Each group has a different way of doing things and passionately believe they are right; each core design has weaknesses, each has advantages, and if you're lucky you can reach a point where you incorporate all the advantages and eliminate all the weaknesses, but I've never seen it done.

It’s an inherent problem that all human beings have in lesser and greater degrees, everyone wants to make their ‘mark’ on a project some worse than others. I used to hate multiple contractors engineering projects for that very reason.   Too many personalities usually result in a screwup.

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11 hours ago, F10 said:

Eurocopter and spares are problematic, I get that. But all I can say is in South Africa, the SAAF operated Pumas and later the Oryx hPuma airframe with Super Puma engines and gearboxes, upgraded cockpit) for over 40 years, getting excellent service out of them. Yes, the honeycomb floors were soft, but then 5mm super wood load spreader floor coverings were fitted, solving the problem. The aircraft had two big cabin sliding doors, but not the rear ramp which surely is a great feature? Just seems strange that these Taipan helicopters, made by the same people, were so troublesome?

One big culture clash was the loadmaster/door gunner. I believe Pumas and Eurocopter products were never designed to defend themselves in a hot LZ. That’s the orbiting gunships job, and the defence from the troops exiting the helicopter. in the SAAF we flew with flight engineers. They carried out certain flight duties and all loading and field maintenance duties. They were good, they could change an engine, in the bush. To me, a better config than door gunners?

I seem to remember that one of the big problems, only a couple of years ago, was with the LHD. During rough seas operations, there wasn’t enough movement in the rotors to help compensate for the rocking of the landing deck, therefore over stressing the landing gear….the pitch changes overtook the ability of the pilot to control it.

 

Ken

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Yes that is true of the Puma types, they tend to be top heavy as they are quite tall, compared to the far more squat configuration the Seahawk. To exceed rotor tilt limits would take some doing….pilots also feel the edge of rotor limits because you can feel the hammering on the blade droop stops, warning you you are at the limit of cyclic movement.

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