Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 14, 2008

To Juan Cole

Juan Cole cites some Iraqi weapon purchase:

• 20 T-6A Texan trainer aircraft.
• 36 AT-6B Texan II Light Attack Aircraft.
• 26 Bell 407 Armed Helicopters, each equipped with a M280 2.75-inch Launcher, a XM296 .50 Cal. Machine Gun, and a M299 Hellfire Guided Missile Launcher. '

Then he adds:

These new weapons for the Iraqi Air Force will be delivered in 2013, and they are sophisticated and difficult to operate and maintain, so will require training and technical help from the US military.

Dear Juan, you obviously think otherwise, but planes, helicopters or whatever else are not really too sophisticated and difficult for Arabs to operate and maintain them on their own.

Posted by b on December 14, 2008 at 14:38 UTC | Permalink


I'd like to think that what he means is, US control over configuration management and spares sourcing will make Iraq somewhat dependent on the US. No doubt that's the hope.

Posted by: ...---... | Dec 14 2008 15:11 utc | 1

I read that Iran can produce only a fraction of the parts it needs for its surviving F-14s.

Posted by: David J | Dec 14 2008 15:24 utc | 2

The North American T6 (T signifies trainer) has been around since 1935. Originally used as an advanced single engine trainer for the USAAF and USN. Also used extensively by the Commonwealth countries during WWII. Most surviving Texans are in private hands or aviation museums. Makes me wonder what kind of price tag is being hung on these vintage a/c. Sounds like someone stands to make a bundle.

Buzz Meeks

Posted by: Buzz Meeks | Dec 14 2008 15:44 utc | 3


I believe that Juan Cole is meaning the Texan II, not the original Texan. Still not exactly the most sophisticated plane around.

If the plane is the TexanII, it is based on a swiss design. The Iraqis might need to go to the US for spares of the avionics, but spares for the plane itself should be available from another source.

Posted by: No So Ana | Dec 14 2008 16:11 utc | 4

all this really amounts to is a shakedown of Iraq to buy overpriced and un-needed equipment. Why do the Iraqis need or want M16s when everyone already has an AK47? Why do they need or want joint-use communication equipment?


it is a future bargaining tool that can be used any time someone veers off the pre-approved script. Either do what we say or you will get no more spare parts. Iran has many advanced fighter aircraft that can't fly for lack of spares. It will be no different for Iraq should they get out of line.

Once such a large investment is made and 6 Billion is a lot of money for such a small country, it is difficult to swap everything over for a different supplier. not to mention that the new supplier could be worse when it comes to compliance.

I suspect the Iraqis have absolutely no say in this matter.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 14 2008 16:33 utc | 5

Juan Cole's comment is correct, in spirit if not in the letter. Iraq (the present government, at least) will remain dependent on US support for a long time. And surely no Iraqi government will be given the sophisticated observation, communication and targeting vehicles we have, so they will be forced to fight their squalid civil wars in an ineffective way, easily stalemated by Iran or Saudi Arabia or Israel, or whoever decides to support the insurrectionary party. A squalid little civil war is probably just what we intend for the future of Iraq.

Posted by: seneca | Dec 14 2008 17:38 utc | 6

The point, as some of MOA's sentient readers have alluded, is that Iraq is going to be buying US weapons (and their accompanying training/support), and that's really all there is to it.

And yes, b, the airplanes (especially the software that runs them) are far beyond most pilots that would be ostensibly be operating these aircraft, so there's years of training that's required.

Your cute little turn of phrase to Mr. Cole is fucking obnoxious. Seems both you and debs might want to take a couple days off.

Posted by: Jeremiah | Dec 14 2008 18:28 utc | 7

No So Ana @ #4

Thank you for the correction. Don't want to be contributing any misinformation to the Internets tubes, although I am sure somebody is kicking themselves in the ass that they couldn't have unloaded very old a/c for the price of one of these spiffy new Texan IIs.

Buzz Meeks

Posted by: Buzz Meeks | Dec 14 2008 19:15 utc | 8

Cole has tendency to make nonsensical claims about things he knows nothing about (e.g. electoral setup in Iraq) Still, I am reaching the same conclusion, but for opposite reasons. Light attack planes and helicopters with rocket launchers are not weapons one could use to battle real armies--they are tools for counterinsurgency, whoever those "insurgents" might be. Somebody has to provide a real military to back up the Iraqis should they need one. If US pulls out completely, that somebody is likely to be Iranians. Nobody in US gov't will let that happen. So, in lieu of a real Iraqi army, US army units stay around.

Posted by: kao-hsien-chih | Dec 14 2008 19:24 utc | 9


are you saying that the Iraqis are too stupid to fly airplanes? Until a few years ago they had fighters and cargo aircraft and a domestic airline. somehow they were able to operate all those really complicated machines with their really complicated software.

what has changed? did the US kill everyone who knew stuff?

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 14 2008 19:42 utc | 10

Iraqis can fly or drive anything. Maintenance has been the problem for a long time. My nephew has been in Iraq for five rotations in an Air Force ground unit whose major task is to collect and disarm duds and remove landmines. He related a number of mainteance nightmare stories to me over the past few years. Take for example the infamous Baghdad power plant. They have five generators working with hydro electric power. You just need one to power the city. So they just ran one til it broke down and moved to the next one. Repeat until you're down to one. No maintenance. He told me another story. His squad were pulling shells out of a field and in the late morning a late model Mercedes stalled at the side of the road. Ever helpful, they went to help and explained to the owner that the problem was a clogged fuel filter. For the next week the car sat there and by that time my nephew was trying to figure out how to get a car back to the States. Then one morning a donkey caravan rode to the car. They started a small gasoline compressor and then air-chisled the car into scrap, loaded it on their donkeys, and went to the Baghdad market to sell it. I don't think it is because they are ignorant or lazy. It just seems like the culture resists doing things they do not see an immediate need for. They're getting trained out of these bad habits, but it goes against the grain. If they go back to their old habits, any new equipment will be scrap in a few years.

Posted by: Diogenes | Dec 14 2008 22:12 utc | 11

:-) Those light attack aircraft will need names. I wonder what the Arabic is for right shoe and left shoe...

(Where I am, even on the TV channels that partner with US corp.s and offer consistently disgusting coverage, the news anchors were grinning from ear to ear.)

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 14 2008 22:15 utc | 12

Spare Parts is why Our Man Hugo in Venezuela veered off script and went to Russia and asked for lots and lots of Russian armaments - the Russkis are even building a plant in Venezuela to build AKs.

there pops up in the amerikan media now and then stories of people being arrested / indicted for trying to get spare parts to Iran.

there was a big thing about the usa military placing items on a list to be deleted from inventory and tossed that happened to be a bunch of parts for the F-14 and those parts were being bought up and sent overseas before the vaunted amerikan Intelligence apparatus figured out what was going on.

Spare Parts.

Posted by: Spare Parts Is The Key | Dec 15 2008 0:28 utc | 13

These obnoxious urban myths about arabs and mercedes or arabs and airplanes remind me of the ones redneck whitefellas used to tell about aboriginal people and the houses whitey 'gave' them.
The story is always sourced to a friend of a friend or relative and the eyewitness to the air chiselling is never found. So much easier to steal stuff from peeps if you can claim they don't value it anyhow.
Maybe some of the racists and rednecks need to take days off permanently.
Amerika is forever trying to spread the cost of it's corporate welfare off onto other countries and the Iraqis may well realise that since a goodly chunk of the oil revenues stolen from them will never be returned no matter what, that at the moment they may as well go along with amerikan efforts to have them buy the cast off crap.
If the money has gone anyway there isn't a lot of point in arguing over it and startling the horses before it is necessary.
This was exactly the plan the previous government here in NZ followed when amerika tried to force us into maintaining an un-needed and irrelevant attack airforce by refusing to give permission to anyone else to buy the mob of ancient Skyhawks that made up NZ's 'attack wing'.
Our government didn't argue - they just towed the planes out into a paddock (fenced and with armed guards to stop any bogus claims of aiding and abetting 'terrarism' from amerika) and let the fucking things rust and deteriotate to the point that by the time amerika has finally managed to get a more sympathetic administration (9 1/2 years) even they can't argue for the rehabilitation of the damned things.
Hey maybe that should start an urban myth about kiwis' irresponsibility - nothing racial or laziness you understand (yeah right!) with expensive toys. Except we've got the witnesses to prove it.
One less way that we can be extorted by the land of the highest incarceration rate, and the home of pilots who eject over homes full of civilians.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 15 2008 1:51 utc | 14


These aircraft are the aeronautical equivalent of a '72 Chevy Nova.

No one is selling or maintaining ORIGINAL 1930's T-6's, outside of collectors and movie studios - you may remember seeing these dressed as "Zeros" in the 70's film, Tora! Tora! Tora!.

These are, rather, T-6 Texan II's. Not as stunningly obsolete, but when you consider the air force that Saddam swapped into Iran as a 'sacrifice' move on the GW I chessboard, they are laughable tokens.

Well, it's all that Israel would approve sending.

Posted by: Jeremiah Cornelius | Dec 15 2008 16:36 utc | 15

I think the Super Toucano would be a better attack aircraft (but then again it is not made in US of A):

The Super Toucano Super Emb-312 Toucan ALX (AT-29) is a single-engine turboprop of new generation, with spaced out seats in tandem, made to size for multiple applications, including missions of internal security, operational support, antiguerrilla and basic/advanced training. The aircraft is available in versions of one or two places, in accordance with the mission the one that if destines. The up-powered EMB-312H Super Tucano, was developed during the early 1990s and offered to the US in JPAATS contest. The aircraft was also a contender for the NATO Flying Training in Canada program. A single seat version, the EMB-312H ALX, has since been ordered by Brazil for specialist ground attack units.

In November 2002 the Colombian Defense Ministry bowed out of a deal to buy 24 Tucano aircraft after word from the US Southern Command that the proposed $234 million purchase could jeopardize aid to Colombia.

Posted by: FkD | Dec 15 2008 19:26 utc | 16

"These obnoxious urban myths about arabs and mercedes or arabs and airplanes remind me of the ones redneck whitefellas used to tell about aboriginal people and the houses whitey 'gave' them."

Steal stuff? I'm a Redneck now? Fuck you! I know all about those kind of native stereotype. I have a Ph.d in history and colonial Africa was my minor field. Before you call me full of shit Debs, check out your own bias. My nephew has served five rotations in an Air Force ground unit. He had six of his crew burn to death in front of him when their humvee hit an IED 16 months ago. He's no fan of Bush and the war and but is a career Air Force guy and he goes where they send him. He has never taken a life and has probably saved thousands from death or mutilation. They disarmed 600,000 land mines the Russians planted during their war. He's removed more ordinance from farmer's fields (Iranian and other) than I can relate. He told me this. I am not a racist. and he's no liberal but neither is he. And he has a lot more credibility right now in my eyes than you do. He witnessed the event with the Mercedes, he's been in that power plant a dozen times. Have you been there? Or is every criticism of a non-western culture red neck and racists? When you make assumption and slam me without bothering to verify anything, you're as bad as any Neocon! If you question what I posted, say so. Call me a racist and redneck instead and you lose. I've posted and viewed here since Billmon signed off. I expected to have discussions but in this community I do not to be insulted!

Posted by: Diogenes | Dec 15 2008 23:05 utc | 17

Dan, of course Iraqi's can fly airplanes. Anyone can fly an airplane. They just

This seemed like such a clear event: Iraq is buying stuff from the US. Why is there so much confusion about implications here?

Posted by: Jeremiah | Dec 15 2008 23:46 utc | 18

The comments to this entry are closed.