Pentagon hopes to replace lost aircraft

Washington DC
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The heavy toll on equipment from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq is evident in the US Department of Defense’s $67.9 billion fiscal year 2006 supplemental funding request to Congress. Systems to interdict improvised explosive devices (IED) are also high on the Pentagon’s shopping list.

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© USAF

Sixteen Apaches have been lost in Afghanistan and Iraq



The request seeks to replace 16 US Army Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, and buy three Lockheed Martin C-130J transports to replace three C-130Hs taken from the US Air Force inventory and converted to special-operations MC-130Hs to replace aircraft lost in operations. Four new Bell UH-1Ys are requested for the US Marine Corps.

Funds are sought to replace nine lost General Atomics MQ-1 Predator unmanned air vehicles, and to replace the Raytheon RAS-1R signals-intelligence (SIGINT) sensor lost when a Lockheed U-2 crashed in the United Arab Emirates in 2005 while returning from a mission over Afghanistan.

Funds are also requested to refurbish a retired Fairchild A-10 to replace one lost to hostile action, and to restore two stored Sikorsky CH-53s to mitigate a 13-helicopter shortage. Money is also sought to repair three Boeing A/MH-6M special-operations helicopters damaged in combat, and Boeing C-17s damaged during hard landings.

Possible intelligence improvements include upgrading Beech RC-12 SIGINT aircraft to locate terrorist communications emitters; giving the Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint a real-time wide-band SIGINT capability; acquiring C-130-based Senior Scout quick-reaction signals collection and processing systems; and equipping electronic-attack Northrop EA-6Bs with waveforms to jam terrorist communications.

Anti-insurgent measures sought include procurement of two additional classified IED defeat kits for USAF EC-130 Compass Call information-warfare aircraft, plus 12 additional Northrop Litening targeting pods for Boeing F/A-18s and modification of Boeing AV-8Bs for centreline carriage of the Litening pod to reduce sensor masking.

Funds are also sought for safety upgrades. USAF Sikorsky HH-60s will receive altitude-hold hover stabilisation systems. Requested CH-53 upgrades include crash-attenuating seats, mechanical diagnostic systems, engine aerofoil coatings and Blue Force Tracker moving maps. USAF AC-130U gunships will get traffic collision avoidance systems while USMC KC-130Ts will get fuel-tank foam and electronic countermeasures.

GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC