Warplanes: Iraq Seeks Cessna Solution



February 19, 2008: Strapped for cash, and qualified pilots, the Iraqi Air Force has adopted a clever solution for both problems. It is buying Cessna 172 single engine aircraft for training pilots. This is a common aircraft for the task, and those equipped for training are often called the T-41. But Iraq is also buying Cessna Grand Caravan 208B  aircraft. This is also a single engine aircraft, but is larger than the four seat 172, and can carry nine passengers, or about a ton of cargo. The 208Bs are being equipped with the same sensors and targeting pods used on the Predator UAV. The 208B can be rigged to carry Hellfire missiles as well, giving the Iraqis an aircraft that can act as an Predator clone, a personnel transport or a cargo hauler. Many are available on the used aircraft market for about $2 million each. And pilots can be quickly trained on the 172, and easily transition to the 208B.