Saturday, 2 August 2008

Rent-a-'Copter: MoD's answer to shortage in Afghanistan

The operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are putting such pressure on the need for helicopters that the MoD is considering renting them from foreign countries and companies. Moving personnel by road is highly dangerous - the majority of British fatalities are the result of roadside IEDs - and ferrying troops around in helicopters is by far the safer option. Helicopters are also the fastest way to get injured soldiers to field hospitals. Yet British forces in Helmand can call on the services of only 16 helicopters. With the number of troops in Afghanistan increasing, the need for more helicopters is becoming urgent. Although the MoD has allocated £6million over the next decade for expanding Britain's military helicopter fleet, it will take some time for these to come on stream - hence the urgent search for loan machines.
The experience of the Soviet forces in the 1980s highlighted the critical importance, both strategic and tactical, of having high numbers of helicopters available; it would seem that these lessons are only now being appreciated by the MoD.