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Feedback: Stirring Up A Skyhawk’s Nest

In this edition: Ross Ewing Feeds Back To Mike Campbell’s Feedback Re Axing The Skyhawks - Mike Campbell’s Comments Timely But Ill-informed - Missiles on the RNZAF's Orions

Re: Feedback: Skyhawks Were An Air Combat Arm??

Ross Ewing Feeds Back To Mike Campbell’s Feedback Re Axing The Skyhawks

Mike Campbell’s feedback shows that he is obviously anti-military, or is mis-informed as to how the rank structure works in practice. My 20 years in the RNZAF showed that it worked very well.

Regarding the Sidewinder missile, even a basic knowledge of its philosophy reveals it is a very defensive (rpt) defensive aid, as are chaff and flares. They are to shoot back with if attacked during an offensive mission; they are not (rpt) not classed as offensive weapons. The Aim-9L version Sidewinder made the A4 a very ferocious adversary.

The question is posed: “Why cannot the air force exist without a strike wing anyway?” The point here is that without any “force,” an air force no longer constitutes a “force” to be reckoned with. Regarding “the remaining aircraft” (and our army and navy), the fact is we now have to ask others to protect them…

The military principle of “deterrent” boils down to one of the principles of war: Without a deterrent, people are going to walk all over you, without hesitation. Why shouldn't they? But Mr Campbell doesn’t seem to know anything about that aspect, as well…?

For “foeman,” (in the poem), in this day and age, I’d use the term “un-known-person”. If Mr Campbell, or others, can predict where the next threat to New Zealand’s security or well being is going to come from then we’d all like to hear about that.

Mr Campbell uses the terms “largely useless” and “defence idealists.” I would save “largely useless” to describe throwing away the concept of a balanced defence force, and, as an ex-A4 pilot and one who saw combat flying in Vietnam, I am in favour of the title “defence idealists” any day, to that of naïve pacifists.

If Mr Campbell wants to comment more effectively on defence matters, might I suggest more writing practise and putting the issues more plainly on the table, rather chips on the shoulder coming through, or trying to shoot the messenger.

Thank you for your attempt. It is good to have a widened discussion, but I think we all have to work on our writing and commenting ability and knowledge before we put pen to paper.

Ross Ewing

*******

Mike Campbell’s Comments Timely But Ill-informed

Dear Sir,

The comments and observations by Mike Campbell on the demise of the Skyhawks are timely but highlight a fundemental misunderstanding of where many of us were coming from in our desire to see the strikewing retained.

All appear to have overlooked the fact that it was not the demise of the Skyhawks themselves, it was the disbanding of the Strikewing that is the cause of most concern.

Equipping 6 Orions (or helicopters as previously suggested by the Prime Minister) with missiles is no substitute for a well managed, trained and equipped strikewing, even if only one or two squadrons.

Effective Army training relies on its ability to be able to communicate with, appreciate and anticipate the rapid deployment of such aircraft when in the field.

Effective Naval training relies on its ability to conduct manoeuvres with high speed aircraft so as to be able to effectively detect and counteract any threat from those aircraft.

This all takes a combined multi-tier approach to an effective military machine.

How are the Army and Navy now to obtain this type of training. It can not be done here. So, there will be an ongoing requirement to try and deploy our ships and soldiers overseas in order to conduct such activities in as realistic situations as possible.

Alternatively, the Government will have to find other nations willing to send their ships and aircraft here to conduct joint exercises so that our forces can keep up with the play

Removing New Zealand's strikewing on the basis of ideological nonsense that does not have the support of the people is just too extreme in its stupidity.

Mirek Marcanik

*******

Missiles on the RNZAF's Orions

Dear Sir, According to Defence Minister Mark Burton, the Government is to investigating the feasibility of equipping our Airforce Orions with missiles.

This is one of the "crucial commitments" this Government has made to modernising and re-equipping the RNZAF.

Sounds plausible.

However, it will be interesting to see just how much this investigation will cost the taxpayer when a casual search of the Web shows the following types of missile are already available for fitting to a P-3C Orion (a variant of the RNZAF's P-3K's):

HARPOON AGM-84D
This is an all-weather, over-the-horizon anti-ship missile with a range in excess of 111km and costs US$720,000 (NZ$1,726,618) each.

SLAMER
A day/night adverse weather over-the-horizon precision strike missile with a range in excess of 278km and costs US$500,000 (NZ$1,199,000 each.

MAVERICK AGM-65
An air-to-surface tactical missile designed for close air support, interdiction and defence suppression. Effective against a wide range of tactical targets including armour, air defences, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities. It has a range in excess of 27km and a cost of US$180,000 (NZ$431,655) each.

While not exhaustive, these are basic options available to this type of aircraft.

Now, the P-3C Orion has the capability to carry some 9,100kgs of ordnance.

Assuming our P-3K's are capable of similar loading (including air-surface torpedoes are also being carried) then they would probably carry 4 missiles each.

This would make a total all-up cost of between NZ$1.727M and NZ$6.906M each aircraft (excluding spares and airframe alterations).

With 6 Orions in the RNZAF that equates to a minimum of between NZ$10.360M and NZ$41.439M depending on the type employed.

A conservative estimate for all-up costs including spares and airframe modifications would come out at between NZ$20M and NZ$60M.

There you are Mr Burton. 5 minutes reading, 3 minutes calculation and you have an order of figure. No long and involved investigation needed. Just ask the Americans if you dare.

The question then becomes, "How are these aircraft going to be used and in what circumstances".

Except for submarine hunting, they are far too slow and ill armoured to be of significant use in almost any other theatre where they are not supported by more capable aircraft.

As for submarine hunting, we have it on record what the Government thinks of that.

So what is the point of going through the exercise and what, pray, is the crucial role to be.

Mirek Marcanik


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