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French Armed Forces Fleet Immobilized

French Armed Forces Fleet Immobilized

A French soldier on an anti-terrorist mission in Sahel patrols as a tiger helicopter operates a tactical flight on March 12, 2016, in Mali.

The French armed forces can only fly a third with their helicopter fleets, largely due to the poor state of service and support for military rotorcraft, a French Senate report said.

“Only one out of every three helicopters can take off today,” Sen. Dominique de Legge said July 12 in a statement on his report for your Senate Finance Committee.

Last year, 300 helicopters from the total fleet of 467 were “immobilized,” parked either having a service or possibly a company, he was quoted saying.

There was obviously a “worrying” lack of availability despite a rise of greater than 56 percent in spending on helicopter service, rising to €645 million (U.S. $755 million) in 2017 from €412 million during 2009, he explained. That marked a increase of just about 5.8 percent and landed 1.5 % of the defense budget.

That deficiency of availability was because of host of reasons, including a complex organization for service, 12 types of helicopter spanning three generations and overly strict and unsuitable rules of airworthiness, the report said. There was and a high rate useful in overseas deployment and weakness inside the supply chain.

Those chronic problems “prevented the conduct of certain missions, specially in France,” while working in tough conditions resulted in exhaustion of service personnel, de Legge said. There was also a lack of training, which weakened young maintenance crews, he added.

There are actually tries to boost availability, including a 2014 helicopter action plan as well as a modernization drive for aircraft maintenance launched by Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, the report said. The latter saw an aeronautics maintenance office create as well as a clarification from the roles of each one with the public and private sector actors.

While we were holding steps inside right direction, “vigilance” was needed on companies’ profit margins, links ought to be maintained between industry and soldiers, and contractual obligations should but deliver client satisfaction, he added.

The report necessary stronger financial management, greater efficiency in operational support and closer relations with industry. The problem could be “chronic but it is not unsolvable,” the report said.

The multiyear military plan for 2019-2025 didn’t deliver funds for helicopter service, with consequences for aging helicopters like the Puma, the report said. A big hit is first delivery of a joint light helicopter based the Airbus Helicopter H160 pushed returning to 2028.

As with the end of recently, the Army accounted for 65.5 percent from the total 467-strong helicopter fleet, with 306 units, the report said. The Navy had 17.8 percent with 83 units, even though the Air Force had 16.7 percent with 78 units.

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