Mini Case Study: Advising the Iraqi Air Force

Marauder06

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This thought piece was inspired by a recent thread by another member of the site. I'm not going to say who or which thread, because I don't want you trying to get the answers to the test ;)

If you want to participate, read through the (highly) fictitious scenario below and offer your response. If you have thought through this before, please don't engage until others have had their chance.

_

CPT Scott Faith is assigned to the Army's hottest shiny new object, the Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB). With his brown beret firmly in hand, he deployed to Iraq, where he found himself advising Iraq's new Air Force.

"New" is a bit of a misnomer, because all of their stuff is super old, especially their close air support (CAS) platforms, which are prop-driven monstrosities flown by pilots with very few hours behind the stick.

What Iraq's new Air Force lacks in training hours and modernization, though, it makes up for in balls. Their pilots take CAS very seriously, and are not afraid to drop in low and slow and duke it out with the enemy on the ground. This, however, results in a lot of downed and damaged aircraft as well as killed or wounded crew.

CPT Faith's commander directs him to take a look at where the Iraqis might add some additional armor to their planes to increase survivability. However, survivability comes at the cost of maneuverability and payload; make it too armored and it will never get off the ground, much less carry the bombs and machinegun ammo it needs to support the ground troops.

One thing the Iraqis have always been good at is keeping records. It's probably a holdover from the Ba'ath regime, only in this case it's being put to a use other than suppressing the regime's political enemies. At any rate, the Iraqi Air Force produced the below chart for you, which is a compilation of all of the damage every Iraqi Air Force CAS platform that returned to base under its own power after being damaged in the fight against ISIS.

Being a smart captain, CPT Faith asks his troops, especially his NCOs, for input. So, based on your knowledge and experience, where do you put additional armor, and why?

You have to make your decision on the spot, without the luxury of time or outside consultation. What do you tell CPT Faith?

Go.



26389
 
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SpitfireV

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Ignoring it's a DC3 LOL...on the wings around the fuel tanks. No hits to the cockpit so no issues there, the fuselage is largely empty space on those aircraft. The elevators and rudder are getting hit but can't do much about that. The rear cowlings of the engines could probably do with some too (separate from the wing armour to save room).


Mind you, self sealing tanks if they don't have them already might make fuel tank armour redundant so the priority for would be the rear of those engines since there's lots of critical lines there. This is ignoring any potentially bad CoG changes of course.

Cool idea too btw
 
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MikeDelta

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I agree with @SpitfireV. Protect the fuel supply.

Some protective tubing around the control linkage and cables for the ailerons, rudder and elevator could help them get back to the airstrip as well.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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So telling them to sit on their helmets/body armor is out of the question?

Why would you use data on planes that actually made it back... They made it back.

What are the WIA/KIA reports, where are the crew members being hit?

It's an internal conflict, fuel is not as important as engines and crew, unless planes are just exploding in the sky. Engines being what they are, needing fresh intake air and ability to exhaust, adding armor to them is iffy. So flight crew is where I'd add armor, probably by telling them to actually wear body armor. Weight being what it is to the science of aerospace 'enginerding', and not being a well trained rocket doctor, I'd probably stick to body armor for crew and let the nerds figure out where and how much added weight can be added to the aircraft itself.
 
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Brill

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I tell the Iraqi general to not fly below 10k AGL and just carpet bomb the entire ISIS stronghold. Video the entire scene and upload the footage to all the jihadist sites saying “surrender or we’re coming for you next.” ISIS has already killed ALL of the Shi’a in the area so why not get payback AND ensure that the general’s kids won’t have to fight ISIS 2.0.

Save the refit money and buy more aircraft.
 

Marauder06

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As several members alluded to in this discussion, we are basing our decisions on dangerously incomplete data. This example was only of planes that made it back. That means, these hits were survivable. What happened to the planes that DIDN'T come back? Well, it's possible that they just took more damage in those same places. Maybe ISIS gunners are really shitty shots and can't hit the front of the Iraqi planes. Or, maybe, the planes took a bunch of hits in the props and in the crew areas. In fact, maybe those hits are so critical that any hits in those areas cause fatal damage to the airframes. So if we relied on the initial information and didn't take the time to apply some critical analysis, we might reduce the damage done to the planes that made it back but we wouldn't be doing anything for survivability in the long run because we weren't protecting what needed to be protected.

This exercise forced you to make a quick decision on incomplete data. But the fact is that type of decision-making is most peoples' default setting. They see a tidbit of information, and they (over)react to it, without bothering to apply critical thought or to seek additional information.

...and that's a HUGE problem for our country right now. Consider the Covington hate crime hoax. We were presented with some factual, yet incomplete information: a white MAGA-hat wearing man smiling, face to face with an old Native American beating a drum. Then, we were presented a narrative, i.e. the white man was attacking/intimating/racial harassing the Native American "elder" who was just standing there minding his own business before white "MAGA rage" kicked in. Or whatever. In any case, that narrative was utterly fraudulent, and fell apart the moment people starting looking at it critically. Nonetheless, thousands, perhaps millions, of people grossly over-reacted to that story, accepting the entire thing as it was spoon fed to them by a media and political interests that benefit from the divisiveness that exists in our country.

Also consider what is becoming more and more obviously another hate crime hoax, Jussie Smollett. This story, too, was very sketchy from the very start, yet once again, millions of people were quick to jump on it because they WANTED it to be true.

There are numerous other examples as well, and this isn't a "everything bad is on the political left" piece, because there is plenty of this type of jackassery going around. Any self-interested individual or group is capable of this kind of manipulation, largely because there is rarely a bad ending for people who commit this kind of fraud.

That's why it is so important that when you're presented evidence, a story a vignette, take the time to critically consider it. Seek out information that will confirm/deny what you think you "know." Be aware of your own biases. In short, what I'm asking you to do is to think for yourself. Whether that's here on the site or in your day-to-day lives, recognize that the first reports are almost always wrong, that everyone has an agenda, and that that YOU are responsible for your own situational awareness and education.

...for the record, when I first did this experiment I didn't immediately consider "the ones that didn't come back." I accepted the conditions as presented, and didn't expand my thinking far enough to take in the whole problem. That's something I'm going to have to continue to work on in the future.

...and now this case study is complete.
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Hat tip to @Devildoc for inspiring this thought experiment. Check out the link in his thread if you want to see the "real" story this one is based on: Cognitive bias
 

DasBoot

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I wouldn’t look at armor- with costs running high and what I can only assume a lack of resources, I would refocus on tactics. See if there’s something they can do to negate getting hit as often as they do. Look at increasing focus on night flying (investing in some new NODS will likely be cheaper than out right refitting all these birds).

Put more focus on extreme low flying tactics and time spent focused on that.

That’s all I can think of with my second hand knowledge from my FIST/JTAC buddies.
 
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