Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Military helicopters: six problems, six solutions

DefenseIQ site offers a reflection on some major difficulties helicopters now ... and offers some solutions to solve them. Here are the main elements.
  • Degraded visual environment (effect "brownout"

The United States believes that three helicopters in four fatalities are due to the degraded visual environment (Degraded Visual Environment - DVE). A question that arises specifically any problems in the arid Middle East. Hundreds of devices - and their crews - were lost because of difficulties in orientation and vision for pilots. Difficulties caused by sand and dust swept during maneuvers, but also a reduced ability to place the horizon in its space.

Proposed Solution : Researchers and industrialists seeking to develop tools to fight against the driver of this "brownout." Many systems, particularly related to radar aircraft must be tested in the short term: The BLAST (Brownout landing aid system technology) and BAE Systems must be tested in 2013 in Afghanistan. Finally, the simulation is the best way for the moment, growing awareness and training more widely pilots in these situations. 
  • Understanding of the tactical environment
Access to information is crucial today. We never had to fight much information and at the same time, never had so much difficulty in identifying priority information. It is currently difficult for helicopter crews fast enough to analyze the tactical situations which they may be exposed in an emergency situation: where to ask? how to protect themselves? where allies and enemies? Time for reflection which require low flying, and thus expose themselves to enemy fire.

Proposed Solution : The main line of thought through the adoption of multiple information systems.Crews could very easily switch from one system board "normal" system "emergency" which, being connected both with the different systems of command and with both systems deployed troops on the ground , would quickly pinpoint danger zones and sites pose potential. A better view of the environment, including a visual 360 ° through avionics modernization, is also under consideration.
  • Keep the fleet in good working
Helicopters, more than planes or drones, are faced with a very special wear. Elements and fights they face tend to have these devices: breakdowns, sand mechanics, bullet, require rapid and permanent.Teams of mechanics, loaded or unloaded, sometimes struggle to keep up, especially when the sudden increase need arises.

Proposed Solution : Outsourcing. This is already what the Swiss and the Germans on their fleets Cougar, Puma or Super Bell UH-1D. The service is now directly advantage of deals offered by manufacturers who know the need for increasingly expressed armies to complete packages and reagents.This solution is almost inseparable from a better management system needs repairs, maintenance and replacement of parts for appliances. Tools to detect and alert on failures become increasingly essential in the development of the latest versions of these aircraft.

  • Survivability
That is already mounted in a helicopter ... realizes how these devices are walnut hulls. To remain agile and fast, they should be light. Lightness which results in direct protection of crews very modest. The slightest gust of light weapon or any impact when landing too violent generally passes through the cabin like paper.

Proposed Solution : Everything remains to be done in this area. Military research is also one of its priorities for innovation. Everything depends on the results of the various alloys under consideration which should allow to obtain stronger shields while being lighter.
  • Provide training formats sufficiently high
The training of pilots and crews remains complex must equipment and personnel are available.

Devices must be improved, but it should also improve pilots. These are never sufficiently educated and trained. The report notes that Libya has called for particular crews to adapt to situations that had not been anticipated. Many lessons to be learned for the future ... that is if we can adequately train staff. But these are very much in demand with rotations overseas operations more frequently than for other services.

Proposed Solution : The training is expensive. Confront crews and equipment to combat situations upstream is basically impossible. Remains the simulation: the software is more sophisticated and can take into account always enjoyed returns of experiences, problems and realities. Still again, the industry must find economical solutions, budgets are increasingly tight.
  • Simplify the night
The night flight is complex. However, many operations take place in this context means night vision available to Western armies offer a considerable tactical advantage on insurgencies. Despite the available tools, yet drivers are facing increasing difficulties to discern depth, color and geography of the land.

Proposed Solution: The big difficulty is linked to a lack of foresight in the development of equipment in service. Cockpits, helmets and night vision goggles are not always tailored to their combined uses. The future certainly would lie in this direction: industry have also been able to anticipate this need, yet obvious, drivers of modern aircraft.

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