Beechcraft AT-6 B COIN

In last week’s dead tree Defense News I noticed this full-page ad:

beechcraft at-6b coin

I nearly posted it and wondered (a bit cynically, I’ll admit) whether any requests for proposals for a Counter Insurgency (COIN) aircraft for the new Iraqi air force was coming.

Oops: The COIN Aircraft Comeback:

The Iraqi air force in two years will be flying a new fleet of single-engine turboprops as counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft. See the contract solicitation, posted by the US Air Force, here.

Murdoc has previously noted the EMB-314 Super Tucano as a possible good fit for the new Iraqi forces, as well.

Regardless, Murdoc is far too skeptical to think that it’s mere coincidence that the AT-6B ad ran the week before the request came out. However, I’m also a bit skeptical that an ad (full-page or not) in Defense News is going to sway anyone.

Thoughts on the Iraqi air force requirements?


  1. MO, I believe the Iraqi air force requirement be that it has an air force. But what’s the mission? If it is to secure its own airspace, they have a long row to hoe before even factoring in the Israelis. If COIN is going to be an air force mission, we might also sell them the Army’s old Mohawk OV1/Ds; I don’t think we use them anymore. If we didn’t sell them already. But regardless of its final operational parameters, equippage, and readiness, a fundamental rule for the new Iraqi air force should be not to give aircraft to the Iranians:

  2. I don’t really know, but it seems to me these airplanes are too small and under powered to carry any significant amount of ordinace into a battle. I mean, even if you did load them up, they’d be so g and range limited I doubt they’d be worth fielding. James in this thread brought up the idea of putting a pair of ducted fans on an A-10. You know, using a single Allison AE2100 to power a ducted, variable pitch fan could make a great basis around which to design a light attack/sometimes fighter airplane. A design like that could have a phenominal thrust to weight ratio, great throttle response (due to the constant speed prop/fan), and be nimble as hell, at least when it wasn’t loaded down with bombs. It’s too bad we don’t have any airplane companies in the US today or one might turn us engineers loose on a kick ass airplane like that. Nah, better to go to Brazil.

  3. Shipmates, Well, there is one platform that could probably still be brought into the field. It’s proven technology, combat-tested, and certainly available for a quite reasonable price. Plus it packs a pretty good punch: Mustangs over Iraq? Why not. Keep in mind these are new aircraft, not refurbished scrap. The combat speed is pretty good, and they are very maneuverable, a good range, and can carry excellent electronics and payload. Respects,

  4. Capt Ned, Sorry ’bout that. I saw the image posted and my old mind went.. ‘wait a darn minute here….’ The F-51 series as updated would be an excellent choice for some new nation needing close air support, or your basic, on call COIN platform. Like I said, the good thing is it is proven technology, and would be very affordable, as far as these things go. Respects,

  5. One problem with prop planes in general is they don’t fit the fighter roll very well today. They are generally speed limited to the Mach 0.5 – 0.6 range. They’d get chewed up by something flying M 0.8 – 0.9. The advantage to the ducted fan is the blades are shorter and the tips don’t go supersonic until you get up in the M 0.8 range. That would put you in the speed realm of the MiG 21, plus you can still turn and carry some weapons. A biz jet, on the other end of things, will go plenty fast, but won’t maneuver like a fighter or carry an offensive load. Heck, if you wanted to resurrect a do-it-all airplane from the past, why not the A-4? That bad boy carries an excellent bomb load. It’s quick and maneuverable too. They almost stole the show from the F-14s in Top Gun (let’s see if we get a reaction from Pinch on that one).

  6. Defens, Yeah, the scooter was a great lil’ plane. Many Many pilots swore by it, and rightly so. For a general jet, the A-4 or the A-10 is a good choice. My look at the Mustang (Cavalier) was because of the excellent work it could do solely in CAS and COIN work. The A-1D would work equally as well, and did yeoman work in SEA, being able to loiter and stay in close better than the jets could do. It’s that darned speed thing. Sometimes low and slow IS better. But yeah, the A-4 would be a great jet to reconsider. Respects,

  7. Hey, Check it out: Murdoc is #2 on Google for Beechcraft At-6b Heh… Now to try for that coveted ‘I bayoneted myself’ title 🙂 Respects,

  8. Though the Air Force seems most guilty of this – all the services are far too likely to go for the high tech solution regardless of the requirements. Now, I myself have a predilection for high tech solutions (uavs among others) but sometimes it just ain’t needed. Thing is, there are very, very few instances where air-to-air survivability is crucial. Especially for the US, but also for other forces. Insurgents don’t have air forces, typically – and after we’ve moved in, our opponents don’t either. Even better than a P-51 follow on would be a P-47 follow on. Something that can take ground fire, a nice armored bucket around the pilot, loads of payload, and sufficient loiter time to be useful. Modern avionics would round it out. I would imagine that something like that would have a low IR signature. Then, turn it into a uav. But for budget-constrained air forces, it could be a powerful tool.

  9. BH, I agree with you. There is a very real place for high-tech solutions, especially where it can save our own guy’s lives. But there are also times when it works best to have a man on the scene with eyeballs to locate and evaluate what’s going down and how best to respond. And yeah, the P-47 follow on would be way cool. That platform could take absolutely massive amounts of damage and keep on going, bringing back the pilot where other aircraft couldn’t. Things is, by replacing the piston engines with turbo props, you save a ton of maintainance, increase power and response, and still get the use of props to maintain a slow but maneuverable aircraft over the battlefield. Plus, they are wicked efficient. Good to meet you this past weekend. I look forward to next year. Respects,

  10. It’s not high tech or low tech, it is engineering design. It is using the right tools for the job. Ok, mostly these days it is the lack of design. Everything is designed by committee today. You start out with 10,000 requirements and in the course of a program develop 100,000 more. It is a testament to the moronic belief that 10,000 monkeys pounding keys on a keyboard can come up with a work of Shakespeare. There is a reason why airplanes used to be designed by engineers and not committees years ago. Now all those engineers are gone and no one has been allowed to take their place. The ‘systems engineering’ approach has failed and is failing every day while everyone oohs and ahs over the emporer’s new clothes. The fact of the matter is good designers design good airplanes. They always have and always will. The dumbasses who think a good airplane will magically will be crapped out the end of a process of writing endless requirements are only allowed to continue in their stupidity because they work within a system that rewards failure and penalizes success. So they continue to fail and a generation of airplane designers have gone missing. If we ever wake up to that fact, it will take at least a generation to get back where we were 30 years ago.

  11. For an a well balanced COIN A/C I don’t think you could go wrong with the OV-10. Light cargo, light attack, good endurance, and if I recall correctly, a good sensor package to boot. The Marines killed off the OV-10 after Desert Storm because they felt it was not survivable on a modern battlefield. Too bad, because on this battlefield we could really use the Bronco.

  12. Do you think this aircraft would need to do any fighter duty? I was thinking it might have to double as an interceptor against Iranian or Syrian fighters, but maybe I’m wrong. I saw something about the T-6 being compared to the F-15 and perhaps I took that too far. The OV-10 is a slick little airplane. Nothing wrong with it that mounting a 30mm cannon in the nose wouldn’t fix.

  13. The MQ-9 Reaper or like has a lot going for it. A orbiting bomb/sensor platform that does not require a high piloting skill sets could address the Iraqi need. To be honest, four Reaper (Or Army Warrior) squadrons could replace the light manned bombers (F18/F16) for most missions in Iraq. (over the Air Forces dead body) Now what could be interesting is the restart the YA-10B and give the second seater the ability to control and monitor a flight of Reapers.

  14. I don’t think a UCAV is a good solution for Iraq. If you’re going to do the close air support mission, you don’t need to be getting your information though a soda straw. You not only have enemy lives on the line, but a lot of friendly lives too. It’s a recipe for disaster. UCAVs are a good lower cost option to do what cruise missiles used to do, but they won’t take over the attack airplane mission any time soon.

  15. DFens, I believe you could mount a 20mm cannon under the wing of the OV-10, slaved to the flir in the nose, at least on the D model, not sure about the A. I’ve heard some countries are switching out the M-60s in the sponsons for .50 cals. A wild hare just crept into my head, the Bronco is about the same speed as MV-22. Might make a good escort, something the Marine Corps is lacking at the moment. Anyway, enough unpaid advertising for the Bronco.

  16. UCAV’s may not be the best solution for Iraq. Personally I would prefer a P-47. That said, I would not be so sure about the future, the ability to provide a real time wide area multispectral view from UCAV is not a stretch. We already do something very similar with the TR-1 program.

  17. My favorite ‘tough as nails’, radial powered, air cooled airplane is the Corsair. It wasn’t as famous as the Jug, but was a real performer. It’s funny though, you see those WW2 airplanes up close and they are remarkably small. Gas turbines put a lot of power in a small package, but they put out a lot of heat too.