Saturday, May 25, 2013


ONLY A HUNDRED MORE BLOGS TO GO—AND THIS SERIES WILL HAVE LASTED A YEAR, my writing conscience—a formidable brute—seized me by the throat and insisted I move a major section of my screenplay from the beginning to a later location.

Needless to say, I protested, fought, and screamed (I exaggerate) but finally did the deed because I had been secretly concerned about the chronology from the beginning. However, I had suppressed my doubts because such fundamental changes can ripple through one’s entire screenplay—so can be a whole lot of work.

The result of such actions were dramatic (as far as I am concerned). There was a blinding flash and a heavenly voice screamed down: It’s working—and about bloody time too.

Heavenly voices can be a little crude.

A feature of writing is that a single discordant note can get a whole manuscript condemned—even if such a fault is relatively simple to remedy. This is alarming from a writer’s point of view, but has a great deal to do with the volume of reading editors have to do. To cope, they have evolved numerous quick and dirty ways ways of sorting the wheat from the chaff—to the point where it is a rare manuscript that gets read right through during the winnowing process. In fact, I have a private theory that most editors don’t read as a consumer reads at all—because an editor’s perspective and reading load are entirely different.

The illustration is of the mockup of a a proposed new COIN aircraft which is currently in advanced development in South Africa. It is called the AHRLAC and is due to cost under $10 million (depending on the avionics and weapons packages).  The following are some of its more interesting features:

    • SEATS: Two in tandem with the rear seat raised to give maximum visibility. This is similar to the Apache AH64 attack helicopter configuration.
    • ENDURANCE: This is projected to be a remarkable 7.5 hrs plus – exactly what you need when supporting ground troops.
    • RANGE: > 1,100 nm – 1,266 mph
    • MAX SPEED: > 272 kts – 313 mph
    • WEAPONS: Currently, a 20mm cannon is proposed, plus a full range of capabilities that can be hung from hard-points such as missiles, rockets, and bombs. Missing so far are JDAMS. This area is likely to evolve.

You can get more details from

In this day and age, COIN aircraft cannot supply air supremacy—although they can carry sophisticated air-to-air missiles. However, in a situation where you have air supremacy, they can excel at far lower cost.

But why not use helicopters? Well, clearly helicopters are used extensively for COIN, but they are dearer to buy, dearer to maintain, are about half the speed of fixed wing, and lack the endurance.

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