Warplanes: July 14, 2004


Iraq has begun rebuilding its air force by purchasing two Australian designed (and manufactured in Jordan) aircraft for reconnaissance and surveillance work over the nations oil fields. The SB7L-360 Seeker is a two seat pusher type aircraft with very low stall speed and excellent visibility. Maximum take off weight is about a ton, minimum speed is 121 kilometers an hour and  max speed is 230 kilometers an hour. The aircraft was designed as a cheaper, safer and more reliable alternative to a small helicopter. It can stay in the air for up to seven hours (at minimum speed.) Max payload is 660 pounds (including crew). The aircraft sell for about $210,000 each (or more, if additional electronics are ordered.) Iraq plans to buy 14 more recon aircraft, which may include more SB7L-360 Seekers. The Iraqis are more in need of surveillance aircraft right now, to protect their oil facilities. And it helps that they can buy the inexpensive aircraft they need from Jordan, which has long been a friend of Iraq. The largely Russian built air force that Saddam built is useless, with few of those aircraft surviving years of war and poor maintenance. The new Iraqi air force will probably end up with second hand American F-16s, and much better trained pilots than Saddam ever had. 




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