An air force of my own #3
Reading about some of the over-priced nonsense the military buys is maddening – but could you make better choices? In the third part of our series we burdened Thomas Newdick with the daunting task of re-equipping the air arms of a notionally oil-rich Ireland. Would his notional air force be combat effective? Good value for money? Most importantly, would it be stylish?
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Air Force Procurement
Head of procurement: Thomas Newdick
Occupation: Editor of Air Forces Monthly
Nation to defend: Ireland
Year: 2018. In this thought experiment Ireland has found massive oil reserves. Oil rich and with a new government, Ireland massively expands their previously modest air force.
Glider trainer: Not necessary
Twin-engined prop trainer: Embraer Phenom (12)
Jet/Turboprop/LIFT trainer: Pilatus PC21 (100), Yakovlev Yak-130 (60)
Tankers & Transport
Light tactical: Modernised Antonov An–2 Colt (40), Alenia C-27Js Spartans (18)
Medium: Ilyushin Il-76MF (20) (re-engined with PS90)
Strategic transport: Boeing C-17 Globemaster III (12)
Tanker: Ilyushin Il-78 (re-engined with PS90) (12) – also used as Aer Lingus freighters
Hack: Aforementioned An-2s
VVIP transport: Convair 880 (1) (in emerald green scheme with silver shamrock on the top)
Presidential/Governmental Transport: Lockheed JetStar (5)
(with modern engines)
(specify chosen munitions)
Fighter/Attack: Rafale M (140) with Meteor, Python 5, Hammer, Brimstone, ASMPA, SCALP, Kh-31ARM,
Attack, SEAD and long range interception: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (48), AIM-120, AIM-9X, SDB and JDAM
Close Air Support: Northrop Grumman B-1B Lancer (31) with all weapons integrated on USAF examples
Fixed-wing COIN and FAC: Super Tucano (24)CSAR: Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk (12)
Trainer:Kazan Ansat (24)
Light transport: Mi-35 updated by ATK (36)
Medium transport: 24 Kamov Ka-29
Heavy transport: Mil Mi-26s (12)
Attack: AH-64E Apache Guardian (48)
Search & rescue/ASW: Kamov Ka-27 (48)
Intelligence & surveillance
AWACS/AEW:: Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye (10) (Joint force Air Corps/Navy)ASW: EADS CASA C-295 (12)
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR): GlobalEye (12) (ON ORDER)
Maritime Patrol: MQ-4 Triton (4)
Reconnaissance: Rafale M force is equipped with TALIOS
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Fixed-wing jet: Silver Swallows with Fouga CM.170 Magister (4), Rafale Trio (one green, one white, and one orange)
Rotorcraft: Alouette III
Historical flight: Supermarine Seafire
Carrier aircraftBased on three carrier. Assets pooled with Air Corps.
Fighter/attack: Rafale M (fleet shared with Air Corps)AEW: Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye (10)
Tanker: Rafale are equipped with buddy-buddy tanks
Helicopters: Pooled Helix fleet (see above)
Misc Aircraft category
Air ambulance/police: Airbus Helicopters H135 (20)
Mountain rescue: Sikorsky H-60 Blackhawk (12)
Coastguard: Sikorsky S-92 (10)Air defence systems S-400 Triumf, 2K22 Tunguska
Air force defence regiment
Camouflage: East German rain
Standard weapon: SIG SG 550
Sidearm: Škorpion vz. 61
Light support weapon: M249 light machine gun (LMG)
Heavy machine-gun: .50 cal Browning M2-HQCB
Sniper rifle: Sako TRG
Cost effectiveness & sense
The new Irish Air Corps/Navy Joint Force is the most powerful and best equipped air force in Europe. The vast prize tag is paid for by the new oil money. For Ireland’s current defence posture the procurement makes little sense, so it is likely this heralds the coming of a New Ireland, a powerful player on the world stage. It is extremely effective but very expensive, quite what the threat that merits this huge military investment is anyone’s guess — certainly a strong enough force to keep Iceland on its toes.
The Irish government have made some very surprising moves! Spurning British or British-involved aircraft was perhaps to be expected, but turning to Russia was a dramatic surprise. The Ilyushin transport and tanker fleet, combined with the large rotorcraft and trainer order show an unlikely new international relationship. The large US deals ties fit comfortably with Ireland’s long friendship with the United States. Becoming both an operator of intercontinental heavy bombers and ordering three supercarriers may alarm other countries in Europe.
The luxury Convair 880 selection was brilliant as was the JetStar fleet, the return of the charismatic Magister simply divine. Scoring highly in this round.
The reopening of the F-22 production line for 48 aircraft? The Russian equipment? The B-1Bs? Utterly and wonderfully bananas. But not impossible
A strong score here. Going from from a handful of PC-9s, the Irish Air Corps is now significantly more powerful than its neighbour Britain.
Total score: 306/500Air Forces Monthly is the World’s No. 1 Military aviation Magazine You may support this blog by hitting the donating, we’ll then be able to give you much more. Recommended donation £15. If you decide to donate to the Hush-Kit blog (because you like this kind of thing and want to see more) you can donate here. Follow my vapour trail on Twitter: @Hush_kit Guide to surviving aviation forums here If this article interests you, support Hush-Kit.net with a donation (buttons above and below). If this goes well we’ll be able to give you much more! Recommended donation £15. Many thanks for helping to keep us impartial and independent. You may also enjoy A B-52 pilot’s guide to modern fighters, Flying and fighting in the Lightning: a pilot’s guide, Interview with a Super Hornet pilot, Trump’s Air Force Plan, 11 Worst Soviet Aircraft, 10 worst US aircraft, and 10 worst British aircraft
B-1B’s for close air support? In an Arsenal Plane role, maybe, but you don’t need supersonic performance to be a smart bomb truck. They’ve got good low-level performance but are too expensive to risk in a non-permissive battlefield environment plinking pillboxes and tanks. And I’d like to see the naval expansion you think is gonna accompany those 3 big-deck carriers Ireland is gonna operate.
Spurn UK equipment ? After leaving the EU, Britain might be less than welcoming for Irish agricultural exports, for its biggest market.
There is an oil rich country in Europe much the same size as Ireland, its Norway and they sure arent wasting their wealth on ridiculous defence purchases. An Oil rich Ireland would even be less well equipped as Norway as they dont have a border with Russia. Even now its for good reason Ireland has minuscule air force and navy.
Without reading more than the headlines, my first reaction was ‘Where does the money come from?’ OK, the answer is oil. Second question (reflected in the scoring) was ‘Who on earth is the threat?’.
The New Irish Air Force would indeed be the strongest conventional force in Western Europe. Who are they going to take on? With this level of capability they could overreach any of the non-nuclear powers. If they really want to be a world power, however, they seem to have forgotten to go nuclear !!
If they don’t have being a world power in mind, they certainly don’t need the carriers and the B-1Bs
Some great choices though. I guess my biggest issue is to do with RealPolitik. There is no way the US will supply F-22 and B-1B to a force operating French aircraft, leave alone the Russian contingent.
Would a CV-990 have even more style than a CV-880?
I am about to lose my mind over this. Why are there so many turbojets? Why so much Russian stuff? Where in God’s name are you going to put all of this? Unless you’re turning half the country into airbases, I’ve no idea where you could fly all of this from. Yeah, there’s oil money but oil money only gets you so far. There’s 4.8 million people in Ireland. At least 100k of them are in the air corps, and given you’ve granted us a naval service with multiple supercarriers, there’s likely that many in that too. There’s about 3 million people who are working age. 7% are in the air corps or naval service. Unless we’ve gone and invaded the UK and Scandinavia, the staffing requirements are nutty.
Looking at Ireland now, its % GDP spend is around 0.35% Thats right A 1/3 of 1 %. But even if you looked at a bigger spend say Switzerland , they are in a way the next step up and they spend 0.72%. As they are quite rich per capita that could be more than it sounds in comparison with Ireland. But no Navy and a citizen militia not a good comparison.
When you have a land border with a super power, plenty of oil , but not tooo much, Nato membership, you can spend 1.5% GDP like Norway. They seem to have balanced forces, Army, Navy and Airforce. This is paid for by 5X larger slice of GDP than Ireland does now. Looks like about the level Ireland with Black gold would go for. Most of it for air and naval forces along the lines of Norway as your oil fields are offshore. perhaps they could be part of EU security arrangements like Sweden and Finland, so these forces have some real world experience and interoperability with Nato which includes Canada, US.
Question your choice of Mi-26s – a mother to operate. The IAF gratefully switched to Chinooks