Fail, Britannia

Grounded. (Photo courtesy US Army/Wikipedia)

(Photo courtesy US Army/Wikipedia)

The UK’s fleet of Apache attack helicopters is going into cold storage:

Britain is taking nearly a quarter of its 66 AH-64 helicopter gunships out of service and, in effect, putting them in storage. Britain has been cutting its defense budget and with no more operations in Afghanistan, and nothing more than occasional peacekeeping operations in the near future, taking AH-64s out of service made sense. This is not the first time Britain has sought to reduce the expense of operating its AH-64 fleet. In 2008 Britain got into trouble when cuts to its spare parts stockpiles caused difficulties in eight AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships operating in Afghanistan. The parts shortage caused some other problems as well. Back then, Britain had 67 AH-64s, and was supposed to have 144 two man crews (pilot and weapons operator). But there were only 68 crews, and the Royal Air Force (RAF) then lowered the goal to 120 crews because of budget problems. Because of parts shortages, and cannibalizing helicopters for parts, only about a third of the AH-64s were fit for service, either in Afghanistan, or for training pilots back in Britain. Crews served two month tours in Afghanistan, often twice a year. But because of all the economy moves Britain could not train enough crews or even keep eight AH-64s in combat. More spares were ordered, especially when this situation got some publicity. But once the media attention went away, the old habits returned.

When war returns to Europe — and war eventually returns everywhere — it’s going to be quite a sight to see. Picture once-mighty nation states of retirees and immigrants trying to find enough weapons and to remember enough military tradition, to raise something more than a mob armed with clubs.