Police Stations Bombed, Airplane struck by Missile
Powerful carbombs exploded at police stations in Baquba and Khan Bani Saad, northeast of Baghdad, early Saturday morning.
A DHL plane landed back at Baghdad airport with one of its engines on fire after it was hit by a surface to air missile on taking off. It was said to have landed safely. Dozens of such attacks have been launched at aircraft landing at the airport in recent months, but they have usually been foiled by a steep spiral landing technique used by military transport pilots and others. Commercial airliners cannot spiral in closely in that way, which is why they are still not flying into Baghdad. Guerrillas in Iraq appear to have gotten hold of shoulder held missile launchers and missiles more sophisticated than the old SA-7s, possibly SA-14s or SA-16s.
[BruceR did not like this posting on grounds mysterious to me. The plane did land at Baghdad airport, though it was hit on taking off (I reported it immediately as it happened and did not yet have all the details.). Dozens of such attacks have been launched. Not only have I ‘read somewhere’ that the steep spiral technique is used by military transport pilots, but all my friends who have visited Baghdad have told me about spiralling in that way, and the reasons for it. And the inability of commercial airliners to use the technique is in fact what has prevented them from resuming flights to Baghdad. So I just don’t see any inaccuracies in what I said. As for the possibility of an SA-16 being used in recent attacks, well, Chinooks aren’t that easy to get with SA-7s. BruceR says this one was an SA-7, and that’s fine, but read the notice again and you’ll see I did not say it wasn’t. I simply said there is some evidence that there are SA-16s out there, too; at the time of posting it wasn’t clear what was used, and it was suspicious to me that this attack succeeded whereas dozens of previous SA-7 attacks had all failed.)
Michael Pollack writes, “I think I know what his objection might be, as well as why
it’s wrong. Military hardware buffs (which Bruce clearly is) know that
C-130s have been constantly landing at Baghdad. And since the Hercules
C-130 is essentially the military version of the commercial 737, they
reason: well hey, if they can land, why can’t 737s?
The answer is: C-130s can’t do spiral landings any more than commercial
airliners can. (Only smaller planes can). But they have alternatives
that commercial airliners don’t: they have apparatus for throwing chaff
and flares; and they have combat-trained pilots who fly combat evasive
mauneuvers and always at night. It’s the same tricks helicopters use and
it usually works. (It’s mainly RPGs that are creaming them, which don’t
go for chaff.)
So you’re right that commercial planes have been limited to small ones who
can do spiral landings. But it’s not right that spiral landings are the
only way planes have been landing at Baghdad. Military planes have other
options. That’s what it means to make a military version of a plane.
Robert Lyday says, “ See the attached recent photo of 2 Iraqi guerillas holding
SAM’s. At least one of those is reportedly a -14 or a -16 . . .