DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Special Operations Boost Demand For Helicopters
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - April 14, 2012: Special operations forces have a dedicated fleet of tricked-out helicopters at their disposal, but as their workload grows, they are increasingly reliant on conventional aircraft to get their jobs done.
A high operational tempo in Afghanistan has married conventional and special operations forces like never before, forcing a heightened level of cooperation at all levels, from commanding generals to aircraft pilots and crews.
It wasn’t always so, especially when it came to sharing information and aircraft, according to Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence.
As a combat aviation brigade commander in Afghanistan, Crutchfield was once asked to provide aircraft in support of a special operations mission, he said at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual symposium.
Seeking information from his special operations counterpart, Crutchfield was turned away because he “didn’t have a need to know.”
“That was not the right answer … telling that to a brigade commander who is supplying the aircraft for you to fly the mission,” he said. “Quite frankly, it pissed me off.”
Now the once-tense relationship has changed, at least from the perspective of Army aviation, which takes the lead on most rotary wing development and acquisitions. At least until the close of the war in Afghanistan, the services will be forced to continue that cooperation. At present, half of all special operations missions flown in that conflict are carried out using conventional aircraft.