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CH-146 Griffon


the patriot


written by: Sgt Normand Belisle

The new CH-146 Griffon helicopter has recently been brought into service within the CF. Prior to engaging this impressive helicopter in operations, there were several trials and evaluations which had to take place. The Griffon required "certification" for Slinging of loads, Parachute, and Rappel operations. A joint plan of test was prepared by the Canadian Parachute Centre
Airborne Trials and Evaluations Section (CPC ATES) and Land Aviation Test and Evaluation Flight (LATEF) and approved to conduct all aspects of this certification. After studying all possible sites, CFB Valcartier became the ideal location to conduct these tests as they could provide the personnel, drop zone and equipment. With a total of 50 soldiers provided from
A Cie 3 R22eR and the support of ATES, LATEF and the CF Photo unit, the testing began.
In order to conduct these trials adequately, in addition to their own Photo Tech a Photo Tech and a Video Tech were added to the ATES team. These experienced cameramen allowed ATES to demonstrate visually, all of the changes to the existing procedures and to produce a procedural and safety video. This video will be used as a training aid in conjunction with the
Canadian Forces Technical Orders written for each item of the tests.

On the 26th of July, CPC ATES initiated the series of tests. The tests began with the rappelling certification by dispatching troops from a height of 90 feet. A total of 310 dispatches took place including descents with and without rucksack. Several rappels took place with full winter kit including snowshoes/rifle combinations. Toboggans were also lowered to the ground
without any problem. In all cases, the trials proved to be very successful. No injuries were reported and all feedback from the soldiers (beside the burned hands) was positive.
The slinging portion of training happened in between rappel lifts. These trials were conducted during the first 2 weeks of testing.With only minor damage to the motorcycle and after several different tests, it was determined that all slinging configurations adhered to regulations and safety requirements. During the third week of the trials, the emphasis was on static line parachuting. A total of 204 jumps with CT-2 and CT-1 combined were conducted with only two minor injuries reported (neither attributed to the aircraft or exits) and all dispatches
carried out without any problems. The only limitation observed while using the CH-146 Griffon was that only six jumpers could be dispatched from the helicopter when jumping full equipment (including rifle/snowshoes). While eight jumpers could be dispatched safely without equipment.

Capt Lafrance from CPC ATES was the test director for this important task and WO Ingram, a Parachute Instructor and Rappel Master, was in charge of the Rappelling and parachuting phases. Sgt Gallant, also a Parachute Instructor, was in charge of slinging different pieces of Army equipment such as Skidoos, Motorcycles, Iltis trailer, and also the 105 LG1 MKII Gun. CFB Gagetown, LATEF provided an aircrew composed of Maj Jerry Demetriadis, Capt Lou Whitaker and Mcpl Liz White. The ATES team was fortunate to have warm and sunny weather throughout. The trials were completed on schedule with no major delays or injuries. The 3R22eR, especially their Commanding Officer LCol Tremblay, the Coy Commander, Maj
Gauthier, their CSM Adjum Poirier, Adj Colbert, Sgt Lakatos, Cplc Boyer and all the soldiers involved, displayed a great deal of professionalism, dedication and discipline, always offering to do more than what had been requested.

In the near future, all jump companies will receive the authorization to conduct parachute and rappel operations from the CH-146 Griffon. They will also be authorized to sling loads that have been covered during the trials. This sophisticated helicopter will finally become fully operational and the soldiers throughout the CF will benefit from this Army and Air Force
joint venture.


-the patriot-
The Griffon in the way you illustrate it seems like a marvel of modern engineering. It may be able to perform well under nice sunny conditions and controlled testing environments, but what about it‘s multi-purpose capability in reguards to battlefield and training and its adverse flight characterists (these being essential for a military with limited financial resources). The Griffon would not be able to withstand a combat environment. This is due to its very limited flight characteristics. It is unable to fly at sustained high speeds; its top speed is the averge cruising speed of all other modern battlefield helicopters. This article points out that it has a limited lift capacity as it can only transport eight troops or the extremely light howitzer, the LG1 MkII which weighs a mere 1500kg. A section of troops or a howitzer without ammunition or crew. It would take five Griffons to deliver a platoon to a battlefield or three to deliver one light artillery piece. Add to this a limited combat radius of action 150nm with a limited payload, at speeds 20 knots slower than modern helicopters and in relatively nice conditions, I think you get the point. The Griffon is not a modern helicopter it is merely an updated old helicopter of 1960‘s fame spruced up to look as though it is a capable military helicopter, it may be new in terms of age, but is certainly not designed for modern military operations when compared to the capabilities of the Cougar or Blackhawk helicopters.
I‘ll throw in two cents for what its worth; we had a couple of Griffons on an exercise a couple winters ago; it was pretty cozy in there with six of us wearing winter kit and carrying loaded rucksacks.

Don‘t know if it means anything, but the flight engineer (or whatever he‘s called) was really freaked out about us walking into the pitot tubes - he warned us three times that if we walked into the pitot tube while boarding the helicopter, that they would be grounded.
A while back, I remember doing some research ... and since the "party line", propaganda article left out these details ... (plus, two adjectives annoyed me in particular: "impressive ", and "sophisticated" - I‘m not impressed - a mentor once told me the truth does not need superlatives, but can stand on its‘ own ...).

If memory serves me, Bell Helicopter has two major manufacturing facilities; one in Texas (where they make milspec aircraft), and a second plant in Montreal (for civvie pattern product).

I‘m not sure who the Member of Parliament involved was when the contract was awarded (although that quisling Marcel Masse rings a bell), but you can guess where our eggbeaters were manufactured.

In a nutshell, the Griffon was described to me as a civvie version of the Huey, painted olive drab (but definitely not genuine milspec) - this reminds me of when our Air Force bought some Jet Rangers, or when the Canadian Army bought a bunch of civvie Jeeps ... they didn‘t really last too long, compared to real, rough-tough milspec aircraft/vehicles (like the "deuces" made in the ‘50‘s, which were older than me, yet still running when I joined in the late ‘70‘s ...).

Also, I‘ve heard from several pilots who are stuck flying Griffons, and they were unanimous in saying they didn‘t like it (compared to REAL military helicopters).

And, does anybody else out there find it amusing they‘d spell it "Griffon" instead of "Gryphon"? Just wondering.

Finally, the article said "... The only limitation observed ..." - hmmm ... that‘s quite a limitation, I‘d have to say. Isn‘t it ironic, or even unimpressive that the Griffon sling load trial included a mere motorcycle, and an Iltis trailer (but not an Iltis ...)? Heck - a motorcycle can only carry two troopers, and what good is a trailer or a howitzer without a prime mover???

I‘m more IMPRESSED with how the Dutch military bought our Chinooks, and upgraded/refitted them with SOPHISTICATED modern gadgetry - they now have a chopper that is a real workhorse (and not a hobby horse, like the Griffon). In contrast to Canada, other armies feel it worthwhile to maintain some medium, or even heavy lift capability in their hel fleets. Equally, most other armies worth their salt purchase genuine milspec choppers (just in case somebody starts shooting at them ... a novel thought, eh?)

Okay, okay - I can hear the voice of Dilbert telling me to calm down ("... must ... control ... fist ... of ... death ..."). Nothing I say or write is going to change the status quo, but I just had to "vent". Thanks for humouring me. We now resume regularly scheduled programming ...
The CF-18 was never called the Hornet (as the F-18 is in the States) because the French word for "hornet" literally means "useless drone." I wonder if the (mis)spelling of Griffon has to do with the French as well.
it is the french translation of Gryphon.Bet whoever bought these helicopters wanted votes in Québec.Otherwise they wouldnt have called it griffon and built it in a plant where they do civvie choppers, right?Everything in the army is way too political, even to point where it endangers the soldiers.WE WANT BLACKHAWKS!!!!!! Sorry i‘m a BlackHawk fan.
Blackhawks are excellent helicopters, but since Canada already has the Griffon why not upgrade them to UH-1Y standard, for use until 2014-2017 and replace them with the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey and eventually replace the Cormorant with similar aircraft. The UH-1Y if you are not familar with it is an upgrade of the UH-1N Twin Huey for the USMC. Basically the same engines in the Blackhawk, the GE T-700, are put into the Griffon and a an upgraded four bladed main and tail rotor replace the Griffon‘s four and two bladed equivalent and a glass cockpit is fitted. The UH-1Y is much more capable than the Griffon or basically similar UH-1N, it can sling 3000kg, but its flight performance is drastically improved in speed, range, handling, and performance in hot and high conditions. It‘s cruise speed is faster than the Griffon‘s top speed (140kts).
Blackhawks are excellent helicopters, but since Canada already has the Griffon why not upgrade them to UH-1Y standard, for use until 2014-2017 and replace them with the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey and eventually replace the Cormorant with similar aircraft. The UH-1Y if you are not familar with it is an upgrade of the UH-1N Twin Huey for the USMC. Basically the same engines in the Blackhawk, the GE T-700, are put into the Griffon and a an upgraded four bladed main and tail rotor replace the Griffon‘s four and two bladed equivalent and a glass cockpit is fitted. The UH-1Y is much more capable than the Griffon or basically similar UH-1N, it can sling 3000kg, but its flight performance is drastically improved in speed, range, handling, and performance in hot and high conditions. It‘s cruise speed is faster than the Griffon‘s top speed (140kts).
Speaking from a gunner perspective if the army wants a troop lift capablity then it also requires to have sufficient lift for a 105mm How Bty with detachment and ammo (and with the gun having a range of appox 11,000m that is more than sufficent to support airmoble troops and I dare say they would probably appreciate it). The helocopter is the prime mover as well as used for the OP, recce and resupply. (Think of the Falklands). Without this lift capability the troops would have no fire support unless you count on the Griffon with its MGs. (or we move into the realm of gunships.)
Secondly, the arguments with regards to "field testing" of the Griffon remind me of the same ones for the MLVW (exhust pipe under the truck bed) and LSVW (non-addjutable drivers seat) which gives me shivers. However in todays climate when we just got around to replacing the Labrdors and Sea Kings I think we are indulging in a lot of wishfull thinking. We will probably have to get use to moving 30 troops at a time anywhere we go. (Too bad they got rid of the Chinooks)
Thats my two cents worth

I recently read an "Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin" report about expeirence in Kosovo essentially reporting the Griffon is essentially useless for airmobile warefare. The report indicated that the Griffon can not operate carry more than 4 fully equipped troops if it is to fly a useful mission distance. The reason being by the time the defensive warfare suite, cockpit armour, and crews weapons and equipment is added on the Griffon has to choose troops or fuel; the latter wins.
Even with the low troop load, the transport distance is still limited, about 100km radius.

Given the importance of support helicoter operations in peace support operations and low to mid-intensity conflicts, the CF desperately needs to build a better airlift capacity. I suggest this options. One the CF should buy 10-16 new-build or ex-US uupgraded Chinook heavy lift helicopters. The cost is relatively low, $50-60 million a pop and the benefits are extremely advantageous. In the mid-term, say next ten years, a major uprgade to UH-1Y standard is in order for the Griffons. The UH-1Y program is currently being run for the USMC‘s basically similar UH-1N Twin Huey‘s. The helicopter is stripped of all avionics, flight and engines systems and the airframe is retuned to zero hour status. The helicopter is refitted with 2 GE-700-401C engines (twice the power of the current enginces), a passive and active defensive aids suite, a new "glass cockpit", a new four blade main and tail rotor system, and a strengthened and combat durable airframe is added. The helicopter is now combat capable and can take battle damage and keep on flying at level comparable to a Sikorsky Blackhawk. Most importantly the helicopter wouldl be capable of transporting an infantry "tactically "--unlike the current Griffon--and doing so at the current Griffon maximum flight speed at its maximum range with a full load. The cost of an upgrade of this nature would be about $6-$10 million Canadian each. Although this sound expensive it is relatively cheap compare to the $30 million for a new Blackhawk or $50 million for an EH-101 utility variant. These are Canadian figures too with all the added political cost. I would like to note that this option is politically acceptable, because both the Griffon upgrade and Chinook builiding could be done in Canada at Boeing‘s and Bell Heliocopters plants in Arnprior and Mirabel respectively.

Also the time is politically ripe to get upgrades of this sort on the go, because of the current war.

Just my thoughts.
Canada had Chinooks. We sold them to the Dutch for next to nothing, right around the same time the Yanks offered to send lots of utility helicopters our way (post cold war downsizing). Marcel Masse had us buy the Griffon instead. Sucks, eh?
Another option (I don‘t know about the cost for this one though) would be acquiring helicopters from Eurocopter ( www.eurocopter.ca ). They have a plant in Ft. Erie, which would address a lot of the politcal end job wise. Eurocopter makes the Super Puma and Super Couger transport helicopters and Tiger gunships. An example: the Super Couger AS532 U2 A2 can carry 29 troops or 12 stretchers and is armed with 20mm axial guns or 68mm rockets in addition to machineguns. The Eurocopter models have seen a lot of use with forces around the world, especially within NATO, with good results I understand.
Man...The CF is in a mess, I say they elect Generals and a Defence Ministers from the enlisted men. That oughta fix the problem.

The Cougar has exactly the same problem as the Griffon, it may be able to have 29 lightly equipped troops in its hold. Unfortunatley it cannot fly very far with them. Even without the defence suite, any form of weapons system etc, they were in Bosnia/Kosovo only rostered to carry nine fully equipped troops.

Whilst the original Puma version was a manouverable helicopter, the Cougar is not. It also has the disadvantage in that it is hard for fully ladened soldiers to climb onboard.

If there had been any logical choice, it would have been the Merlin (EH-101) in its utility, naval, SAR versions for the Canadian Forces. This will however never be (apart from the Comorant), the Griffons are relatively young aircraft, and it is quite obvious that the Sea Kings will fly for ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jock in SYdney
Originally posted by Gordon Angus Mackinlay:
[qb] . . . it is quite obvious that the Sea Kings will fly for ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [/qb]

Haven‘t they already flown forever?
I don‘t think it is too far fetched to say that we‘ll lose them all through attrition---their recent crash record is terrible and sad. But would they be replaced??
Only if it suits the agenda of the Liberal party (i.e. if they can be made in a riding with a Liberal Member of Parliament)

Ooops ... did I say that out loud?
Well, they certainly proved that they don‘t really care. After yesterday‘s budget. I guess our SF guys will have to ride into battle on some other country‘s birds.

<img src="cool.gif" border="0" alt="" /> Yard Ape
In regard to the "Super Cougar" it is actually called the Coulgar Mk.1, Cougar Mk.2, and/or EC 725. The Super Puma is a civillian version of the Cougar Mk.1/2. The Mk. 1/2 stand for short fuselage length (Mk.1) and long fuselage length (Mk.2). There are also a variety of sub-variants that denoted armed and unarmed capabilities for both utility and maritime roles. In response to Angus MacKinlay. The Cougar Mk.2 used by the Dutch in Bosnia/Kosovo carries 13-16 fully loaded troops not nine, the nine would be based on increased fuel requirements for an extremely long range flight (see. Jane‘s International Defence Review August 2001 for more info.). The EC 725 is essentially a Cougar Mk.2 with new more powerful and fuel efficient engines, a better all new rotor system, a new cockpit, and the ability to be fit with a wide range of standard add-on kits for Combat SAR. It essentially rectifies existing problems with Cougar Mk.2. If one want to go with Eurocopter, one should look at its sister company‘s NH-90 form NAHEMA Helicopter Industries (NHI). NHI is a company owned by Eurocopter France, Portugal, and Germany; Agusta of Italy, and Fokker of the Netherlands. The NH-90 is an excellent helicopter for both maritme roles and land support roles. It is produced in two basic variants: the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) variants. Both are extremely capabale 10 ton class helicopters. The TTH can transport 16 fully equipped troops and four crew. The TTH has two sliding cargo doors to port and starboard and a rear ramp. The NFH variant is fully equipped for anti-submarine and anti-surface vessel warfare (ASW/ASVW). Both helicopter are exceptional in terms of performance. The NH-90 came to late to participate in the Search and Rescue Helicopter replacement project, but likely would have won, had it been available. Concerns about its lower cabin height (160cm) have been addressed by producing a version with a 183cm cabin. The NH-90 is truly an excellent all around helicopter and it is set to succeed the Super Puma/Cougar line. If you want to know more see www.eurocopter.com and follow the links to the products page.
The main reason I had for suggesting Eurocopter as an alternative to the Blackhawk or the EH 101 is the political end of things. The politics will outweigh any operational considerations, especially with our current administration.

I did some looking around on the net. The NH-90 sounds like it‘ll be a pretty good helicopter. From the looks of things there is quite a bit of interest in the NH-90 from countries around the world.

A gut feeling tells me that even if they did buy new helicopters they‘d still end up making a questionable choice - and with the new budget I‘d be surprised if they even made any significant upgrades to existing choppers. As for the Sea "Kings" (they‘re Paupers now), who knows what they‘ll actually do outside of a report or commitee.