Saturday, November 10, 2007

Helio Madness

In another attempt to bilk the American taxpayer out of millions of $$, the U.S. Army plans up spend at least $10 million to retrofit as yet undelivered Lakota helicopters (322 of them) with air conditioning units because they tended to overheat during testing.

During a test period of 23 hours in 80-degree temperatures, the cockpit temperature of the helicopters soared above 104 degrees. According to the test report, "at those temperatures the communication, navigation and flight control system can overheat and shut down." Evidently, in typical Army thinking you can own a BMW and buy a Volkswagen and can expect them both to operate exactly the same under similar conditions. According to an Army spokesman, We don't need air conditioning in the Blackhawks, so we didn't think it would be an issue in the Lakota, "But when we got the helicopter into the desert, we realized it was a problem."

So, you would think that maybe we should back off of our purchase of the 322 helicopters from a European corporation (is anything made in America anymore) but you would be incorrect. In addition to the $2.6 Billion, it appears that the Army will go ahead and add the air conditioners and you and I will pay the additional cost. The designer and the manufacturer cannot be held responsible you see since the original specification did not include any request for cooling. I guess the project manager will have to submit a change request since the Army and the designer and manufacturer did not think that there might possibly be a heat problem due to inadequate ventilation and internal electronics. Add the heat of the sun and voila, heli heat stroke.

It gets even better. The intent is to have the new choppers replace an aging, Vietnam era fleet and to release Blackhawks currently used in country for duty in Iraq. Of course this means that the Army obviously expects that our presence in Iraq will continue ad infinitum. According to the AP "the Lakota has another problem: Testers said it fails to meet the Army's requirement that it be able to simultaneously evacuate two critically injured patients. The Lakota can hold two patients, but the cabin is too cramped for medics to actually work on more than one of them at a time, the testers said."

So let’s summarize our good fortune: We get a helicopter that can only fly for around 2.8 hours during which it will overheat rendering it useless and it will not do the job it is intended to do. Sounds like a good buy to me.

All we need to do is get China involved so they can add a little lead to the paint.


sybil law said...

We make SUCH good decisions. Let's not forget the cost of fueling these babies up!

mielikki said...

Over priced Helicopters. Great.
Happy Veterans Day.