21 June 2010

The simple things

In the next few days, I might be able to get a ride in the back of a UH-1 Huey.  I've never actually been inside of one, to tell the truth.  I figure that the window of opportunity for getting a ride in such a piece of Americana is quickly closing, so I might as well take advantage of it.  Pics to follow.

And while we're on the topic of older and less, shall we say, complex airframes, there is a great debate in defense circles over the procurement of Soviet-style helicopters for the fledgling Afghan Air Corps, such as the Mi-17 Hip and Mi-35 Hind.

Gulliver, Chris Albon, and I debated the issue at length on Twitter, a whopping 140 characters at a time.

One of the big selling points for Soviet-style helicopters is their relative simplicity in comparison with American-style aircraft, resulting in reduced maintenance requirements.

Although I've always heard a lot of anecdotal evidence about maintenance on the infamous Hind helicopter, I really hadn't met anyone that's worked with both Western-style and Russian helicopters that could really speak with experience on the issue.

That is, of course, until I remembered a recent post in Voo Tatico, a military blog run by Marcus, a helicopter pilot in the Brazilian military. Brazil operates a sizeable fleet of rotary-wing aircraft, which includes the UH-60 Black Hawk. Brazil also recently received a few Hind helicopters in April of this year, renaming the aircraft the AH-2 Sabre.

The question for my friends down south is threefold.  Do Russian helicopters like the Hind require less maintenance overall?   How much do maintenance requirements increase for additional equipment (GPS, extra radios, etc)?  Do some countries take shortcuts with maintenance when operating the Hind?

I'd appreciate your input.  Also, let us know how you like your new rides!


J. said...

I think the debate is pretty simple, and the congressional members who don't like the deal are asses. Yes, it would "help" American businesses if the Afghani Army bought American just as the Iraqi Army has been told to do. But they were trained on Russian helos, it's easier, faster, and cheaper to train them on Russian helos again. Pretty simple stuff.

I don't understand the predilection of Americans to insist to equip potential enemies with high-end gear. Maybe it's a control thing, so that we can turn off their logistics and sustainment if they get out of line.

Anonymous said...

There is a guy, AlphaOneSix in some of the forums i visit which was a crew chief/mechanic on Apaches, and now does the same on Mi-17s.

He might have some insight. Here he describes the Mi-17 as "It's like a tractor with rotor blades!":