whitelancer wrote:Are plane guards a thing these days?
If so is a dedicated platform required?
Does it need to be airborne during flight operations?
Would deck alert be ok?
- Yes, still a thing. The French and US seem to think so.
- A dedicated platform makes sense as you can leave your very expensive ASW helo's on their own missions. Merlin and Wildcat cost per hour are huge. A SAR helo only needs a FLIR, searchlight, 2 engines and a rescue hoist. An EC-135 (or the military EC635) makes sense as its dirt cheap to operate, spares are available everywhere, single pilot operation etc. Cost per flight hour would pay for itself over a period of years, with the added benefit of practically all UK military pilots are already qualified to fly it.
- It would need to be airborne during flight ops, deck alert wouldn't work that well as you'd need to spot the helicopter prior to take-off if you were operating F-35, that would add vital minutes to any launch. The good news is that often you need to have aircraft up anyway in order to maintain pilot flight hours, schedule pilots onto plane guard for that purpose and you're not going to be paying much more. Plus if you need to do a personnel transfer having a cheap helo around is always handy (although the bigger EC645 would make
RichardIC wrote:The RN is looking at experimenting with quadcopter drones - potentially much, much cheaper.
Not as daft as it sounds. Half the battle in Search and Rescue is getting eyes on the casualty and keeping them on. If it can dispense life saving gear as well it could be a good solution..but its aimed at Man Over Board more than an air crash.