Johnny Bombmaker: You write about counter-insurgency aircraft as if you’re a fan of the concept?
The DEW Line: Well, what’s not to like?
JB: There’s a reason why single-engine turboprops almost disappeared after World War II. They get shot out of the sky faster than a duck flying over a South Texas shooting range. Do you realize how many A-1 Skyraiders got blown out of the sky in Vietnam? The threat in Iraq is even worse. Much better to do it the modern way: just park an F-15 or an F-16 with a targeting pod, a strafing cannon and a guided bomb up above 15,000 feet.
TDL: But the question is not exclusively which aircraft is more survivable, but which is more effective? If survivability was the only criteria, you’d never see something as slow, loud and enticing as a cargo helicopter lumbering from Basra to Baghdad. A helicopter is still the best way to move from point A to point B if neither point happens to be a secure 6,000-foot runway.
A single-engine turboprop with guided weapons, air-to-ground communications and modern avionics may still be the most effective way to deal with a fleeting threat like insurgents.
JB: I do. I’m also not the guy in the cockpit, trying to outrun bullets and missiles in an aircraft that would lose a dogfight to a P-51 Mustang.