The Penny Drops: COIN Aircraft for Blackwater?

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Super Tucano(click to view full) Operating and recapitalization costs for front-line fighters are up in the stratosphere, even as a wide variety of conflicts around the world fit counterinsurgency profiles requiring affordable, persistent surveillance and rapid fire support. UAVs are filling an important niche, and their success is triggering major bureaucratic showdowns in response, but they remain expensive, are much more crash-prone than manned aircraft, and offer a limited field of view. Under the circumstances, it isn’t surprising that some nations are turning back to simpler aircraft whose speed, view, and weapons carriage are purpose-built to offer dependable counter-insurgency surveillance and fire support at lower cost. America’s A-10 “Warthog” widely outclasses much more expensive aircraft, for instance, and has become the key manned fighter of the global war on terror. Even as nations like Columbia purchase dual role trainer/COIN(COunter INsurgency) Super Tucano planes, and Iraq holds an aircraft competition for modified trainer/COIN aircraft of its own. Trends becomes more surprising, and interesting, when private security firms look at their options, see a solution’s logic, and step on board… Richard North notes that security contractor Blackwater bought a number of BAE OMC’s mine-resistant Mamba vehicles from the British Army for use […]

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