Army Sticks to Plan to Cut Guard’s Helo Fleet

Army Sticks to Plan to Cut Guard’s Helo Fleet

Air Force and Air Guard leaders went at each other’s throats two years ago over plans to cut reserve fleets in order to save the active duty. Now, it’s the Army’s turn.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno was on the defensive Thursday morning at a breakfast speech organized by the Association of the United States Army. He joked at the beginning of his speech that the Army wasn’t facing any problems that he could think of.

Of course, that is far from the case as the Army Guard is upset with Army service leaders over plans to transfer 400 helicopters — 200 AH-64 Apaches, OH-58 Kiowa scouts, and 100 UH-72 Lakota utility helos — from the Guard to the active component. Congress also effectively killed the Army’s top vehicle modernization priority, the Ground Combat Vehicle, last week when it slashed the Army’s budget request for the program from $592 million to $100 million.

Odierno was tepid in his response to Congress’ actions to essentially reduce the GCV to a research effort saying only that the Army was “hoping for a follow-on effort.” However, he stayed on the defensive regarding the Army’s helicopter restructuring plan.

“This is about affordability,” Odierno said. “We don’t have the money to sustain the system that we have, so we got to make the best use out of the aviation that we have. It’s simple. That’s the issue. It’s nothing else. People want to make it into something it isn’t.”

The Army chief has taken offense to what he’s described as Washington manufactured battles inside and outside his service. Last month, he said the supposed disagreement between the Army and Marine Corps over the Army’s future Pacific strategy that included Army helicopters landing on Navy ships was only a “Washington thing.”

However, Guard leaders outside Washington have taken to the media to blast Army leaders over their helicopter plan. The adjutant general of the Tennessee Guard told the Jackson Sun, a daily newspaper in Jackson, Tenn., that the Army’s plans would have a “tremendously negative impact on the Tennessee Guard.”

This is also not the only public battle Odierno has gotten into with the Guard in the past 30 days. During a speech at the National Press Club, Odierno said it would be unwise to think Guard units could replace active duty ones when considering readiness. Two days later, Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, fired back saying Guard units have proven the proficiency and effectiveness over the past ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan

The back and forth between the Army and the Guard even led to reports that the Pentagon had instructed the Army to stop briefing their plans to restructure its helicopter fleet.

Odierno did make sure to qualify his comments Thursday regarding the Army’s helicopter plan saying these decisions wouldn’t have been made unless the Army was under intentse pressure to reduce its budget.

Odierno said the Army’s need to restructure its aviation fleets stems from a $79 billion “bill” the service has to pay over the next five years, “so we have to organize ourselves in the most efficient, effective way possible.”

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This is Gen Odierno’s temper tantrum his pet project which wasted billions is KIA in reality for the next several years at least. He is now making life hard and impossible for Senators by attacking there states Army NG units making them nothing more than a light infantry unit by taking away all there heavy weapons/ Helicopters. He doesn’t care about the Army or the men in Uniform in States around the whole nation. He lost his Billion dollar boondoggle this guy want revenge.

Hope congress stops this jerks plan. I wish Obama would fire him.

Odierno has it exactly BACKWARDS! Since the militia model (National Guard) was used to staff about 40% of the Army requirements in the Iraq war, it’s the Active Army that should be cut to save money, with the excess equipment going to the Guard to fill out its table of allowances.

Then we should change the training regimen for the Guard to be on three months mobilization each year (with a fully paid backfill to ther civilian employer), including a mini-training deployment. That would save 50% of the cost of Active duty troops. No real risk in this, since we don’t have any real major force-on-force threats out there. Plus, its more cost effective.

The Army isn’t taking whole units away from the Guard like the Air Force is trying to do to its Guard. We’re taking their Apaches and Kiowas and giving them Blackhawks in exchange. The restructuring is almost airframe neutral.


Blackhawks are much more helpful in a disaster than Apaches.

The Guard is hypersensitive and the media is salivating for a controversy. The AC is looking at a 20% cut and is asking the RC to absorb a 10% cut. The RC’s counteroffer was 1.5%.

Seems like much ado over nothing.

I am not sure about the current status, but Army had been in the process of upgrading their existing fleet of OH-58D to OH-58F, which is mostly an avionics upgrade.

A problem here is that the OH-58D is underpowered, and it remains underpowered in the OH-58F configuration. The earlier models are more severely underpowered, and those earlier models were also supposed to be upgraded to OH-58F, a far more extensive change than just avionics. It doesn’t make sense to upgrade the installed power of the older models to a level that is still underpowered. Its just another waste of money. It will later provide an excuse to replace them with something better (maybe Sikorsky’s S-97), or an excuse to spend more money on another power upgrade.

There had been a proposed Block II that seems to have fallen off the map. It was to use tailrotor from the Bell 427, the transmission from the Bell 407 and the 1021 shp Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft engine (powerpack that was developed for the ARH-70). If they are going to upgrade the older models, I’d like to see them skip the OH-58F power level and upgrade those older models directly to this Block II configuration.

They were also planning to buy some newly manufactured OH-58F to replace units that have been lost or destroyed beyond economical repair. I think they would be better off buying some new AH-6S instead of any newly manufactured OH-58F. The AH-6S is lighter, smaller, more nimble, much cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate, and can get down into places where a larger helicopter cannot.

Wasn’t the original idea that those 100 UH-72 Lakota helicopter were supposed to be for the Guard instead of the more capable and expensive Blackhawks?

UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter has been described as being a “militarized” version of the Eurocopter EC-145, but it is not really designed for use in combat, is better suited for use by CBP/DHS, FEMA and Guard unit missions in the homeland.


This is precisely how it has worked during previous budget crunches.

This trend of pulling systems and resources out of the Guard and Reserves will continue, until such time as the nondefense spending of the U.S. government is reined in to a more reasonable level. At the moment, the nondefense side is burning so much cash that increasingly desperate expedients are guaranteed to happen on the defense side of the ledger.

Congress are never able to figure out what Southwest Airlines (one of the few genuine success stories in the airline business) figured out a long time ago.

Namely, that simple and uniform fleets are an enormous operational and financial advantage.

With every new and different type that is added, costs for spares and training and maintenance increase at a startling rate. It is a complexity problem, at base. When this gets out of hand, it bankrupts private sector businesses, and it cripples public sector militaries.

In the business world, Southwest have traditionally flown the Boeing 737. And nothing but. They only have to store and ship 737 spares. They only have to train flight crews on 737 systems and procedures. SWA mechanics only have to know how to maintain and fix 737s. And, they don’t have to employ all of the army of middle managers and techs required to keep a variegated fleet in the air.

Southwest ended up amalgamating AirTran. It was too good a deal to pass up. AirTran ran a mixed fleet of 737s and 717s. You can guess which jets have been the first to be worked through and sold off.

The services, including Guard and Reserve components, should be similarly trying to simplify their fleets and leverage commonality. Of course this runs counter to the congressional pork barrel imperative.

the major premise of the Guard acquiring the Lakotas was principallyon the notion that,
not being “fully militarized”, it would thus be the stay-at-home helo that Active Duty couldn’t requisition for deployments, and states would have it at their disposal for civilian emergencies and natural disasters.
A plus side was its commonality with civilian infrastructure, if you will: there are many civilian municipalities’ emergency services and hospitals that operate LifeFlight helos of this class, a majority of hospitals can accomodate them on the helo pads, local airports can handle them without needing excess military support hardware and staff, and the little things are considerably quiet unless they’re right over head.

So…you want citizen soldiers in the Guard to sign up to leave thier families and go train for 90 days each year, and that’s no including any real-world call-ups?? Wow…how would a Guardsman go about keeping a civilian job? And…how much would a Guardsman cost after you pay him/her at the going rate for thier 90 days and then backpay thier employer at the given rate for the same 90-days??

But the military wants to operate KC-135, KC-10, 707s, 737s, 767s and 747s…and that’s just the MD/Boeing products.

The latest plan is mothballing the whole Kiowa fleet. http://​www​.armytimes​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​2​0​1​3​1​2​0​9​/​N​E​W​S​04/

Much ado about nothing. The media wants to stoke fires rather than inform.

E.G. The above “article” didn’t tell you the Lakotas are going to replace the worn out Bell Jet Rangers at Rucker to train new pilots (for both the AC & RC component)..

The “article” didn’t tell you ALL the Kiowas AC & RC are going away. They just left you the perception that the Guard was getting stripped. Great helicopter but it’s maxed out armament wise and underpowered. It had real problems in the mountains of Afghanistan. A/C scout squadrons will get an Apache on a one for one trade. Not what the Army wanted but the Comanche was scrapped and funding for a new scout helo is questionable.

The “article” didn’t tell you RC is actually getting 159 Blackhawks to do its missions. (Get’s the blood pressure up.)

So to summarize.

–Everyone loses the Kiowa.
–RC Lakotas pick up the training mission for the whole force (and the RC keeps 108 vs the 104 at Rucker).
–The AC will have 1,033 UH60s, the RC will have 1,102 UH60s,
–All 690 Apaches to the AC

The actual loss to the R/C 41 airframes but neither the AC or RC will shut down units.

Good Army Times article about the WHOLE plan without the sensationalism. http://​www​.armytimes​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​2​0​1​3​1​2​0​9​/​N​E​W​S​04/

Yes, a little less than half are going to replace the worn out Bell Rangers at Rucker to train new pilots.

Now they’re canning the upgrade and want to retire them all? Is it that hard to get a damn scout helicopter? RAH-66, ARH-70, OH-58F (was there ever even an OH-58E?) and still nothing.

The real loser here is the ground forces, who will find it more difficult to get air support since aviation is cutting its number of attack helicopter units by a third. Something that is being missed in the whole “switcheroo” debate.

Good update info. Thanks for posting that link.

Will there be any special revisions to equipment for the Apaches that replace the Kiowas?

No need. The current Apache can do just about everything the Kiowa can (though the helo and the cost to operate are more expensive).

Block III Apaches will be able to operate Army UAVs to include predators. Some argue that the scout helos mission is ideal for UAVs…

It is interesting to note the Marines have never fielded a scout helicopter. Granted they are typically responsible for smaller frontages with limited responsibilities and there mission requires less specialization in some areas. My point is a short term gap in scout helos isn’t a mortal blow.

That would suggest that the transmission shortage of a few months/year ago has been resolved, and that Block III production is in full swing again?

That said, I wonder if it would’ve made sense to make a scout version out of the lighter Cobra. But at the end of the day, the Apache has the engine power to take on more hardware; and it’s inevitable that helicopters will get heavier before they get lighter.

The Cobra is a full fledged attack helicopter based on the Huey. It’s also a lot bigger than what a scout helo “should” be. Yes, it can do the scout mission but it would be underutilized in that role. Consider a tank can do much of the Bradley’s mission when it comes to the scout mission. Just because it can doesn’t mean it should.

What is warranted is a look at the scout helo role. Scouts shouldn’t be shooting, they should be gathering info. When we equip scout systems with weapons beyond an ability of self defense one often finds the scouts getting into fights they shouldn’t. (An often cited observation of ground scouts equipped with Bradleys)

Besides doing reconnaissance, scout helos often fulfill secondary roles like cheap/light attack, VIP transport, inserting small numbers of troops or even light MEDEVAC duties. All this is accomplished with a cheaper and smaller airframe.

The question is, on tomorrow’s battlefield, do we have those requirements or are they better done by the aircraft specifically tasked for those missions. If so we should create a specific aircraft to fill those roles.

The idea is to use the unmanned vehicles for the grunt work of surveillance, leaving the attack helicopters more readily available to the ground force commander when needed.

How many billions of dollars have been wasted on contract maintenance? Where the National Guard has not had to rely on contract maintenance to complete the mission as much as the Active Duty forces rely on contract maintenance to complete heavy maintenance.

Run the numbers of the cost per flight hour based on NG vs AD forces. The number of contract maintainers to support the AD vs NG.

If we need to save money get the soldiers back to doing what we trained them to do organically maintain there own equipment rather then rely on contractors to do heavy maintenance.

Some missions might be ideal for a UAV helicopter, others should be manned. An optionally manned armed scout might be good solution, but I don’t think the OH-58 would lend itself well to the conversion. Not being fly-by-wire, interfacing the flight controls would use significant space claim and add weight, whereas converting to a compact fly-by-wire system would probably be excessively complex, not worthwhile. I would expect similar issues with the AH-6S as it also is not fly-by-wire. The S-97 could be fly-by-wire, and might be a good optionally manned armed scout / light attack helicopter, but much remains to be seen in that development. If its going to be another decade of waiting for it, some OH-58F block II or AH-6S might be worthwhile as stopgap rather than forcing the larger and more expensive Apaches into the role.

The Navy is busily configuring the Bell Ranger (parent to the OH58) to a UAV. http://​defensetech​.org/​2​0​1​3​/​1​1​/​0​1​/​n​a​v​y​-​f​l​i​e​s​-​f​irs

I am very interested in listening to the discussion justifying a manned scout help. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

There are significant differences in internal space claim requirements for optionally manned helicopters and unmanned helicopters. The MQ-8C Jet Ranger conversion and the H-6U Little Bird conversion are both unmanned, not optionally manned.

I think you hit the salient points up thread. Some missions would put boots on the ground, and would put boots in the helo to do that, though perhaps a UAV might carry non-pilot human payload.

I was mistaken. The unmanned Little Bird is actually optionally manned, flew with a safety pilot.

I was mistaken. The unmanned Little Bird is actually optionally manned, flew with a safety pilot. http://​www​.navaldrones​.com/​U​n​m​a​n​n​e​d​-​L​i​t​t​l​e​-​B​i​r​d.h

Now I would very much like to see a similar optionally manned conversion of the AH-6S.

For the past 10 years, those KW units have been used used in an interchangeable role with the Longbow ones. The KW units are being replaced with Apache ones. Problem is that the RC CABs will no longer have attack units in them, so the active attack units will have to supplement them. That’s a problem.

Active Duty = 100% cost at whatever paygrade with benefits. Guard/Reservist mobilized for 90-days = 25% cost of Active Duty. Civilian backill to employer = 25%. Savings versus Active Duty cost = 50%.

The National Commission on the Future of the Air Force just recommended something similar (less Active, more Guard/Reserves), but less amibitious. They were constrained by alternate force structure “meeting current requirements” criteria, and propose savings $2 billion a year. I’d say cut force structure totally by 25% and make 25% of that reduced force all Guard/Reserve fullt trained under new 90-day regimen. Save $40 billion!

With the draw down in Afghanistan they should be adding to the Guard Fleet. ARNG units should be flying more SAR & Bambi Bucket missions so the taxpayer gets a return on their investment.

that’s bull SH*T take 400 from the guard and give them 100 to replace learn the facts before you post stupidity


The Guard will lose 192 Apaches, 102 Lakotas, and 38 Kiowas while gaining 111 Blackhawks. The FY15 budget requests 100 more Lakotas to make up for those losses so the Guard in total loses about 100 aircraft meanwhile the active army will inactivate three whole aviation brigades totalling 300 aircraft. As discussed before the Guard comes out ahead in capability since Blackhawks can be used for whatever the states need them for while Apaches are only good at killing things.

Wait till a new 18 yr old Student Pilot starts trying to learn how fly a helicopter on a UH-72. It has numerous restrictions and prohibitions that make it a totally impractical primary helicopter trainer and at cost of +$2000/hr. A primary helicopter trainer was NEVER in the requirements set for LUH, so now the Army is buying NEW UH-72s specifically for that purpose? How does THAT happen?

The US Army will be the only ones using a UH-72 (EC-145) as a primary helicopter trainer anywhere in the world. Wonder why? All the restrictions and prohibitions are exactly the type of flying that happens at any helicopter flight school.


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