Imperial overstretch, continued

What's with all the helicopters suddenly getting shot down over Iraq?

On top of the one yesterday, The New York Times has details of a previously-unreported case from a few days ago involving a contractor's chopper.

That's six U.S. helicopters shot down in barely two weeks — four military, and two contract.

As if that weren't ominous enough, in most cases it's not even shoulder-fired missiles or RPGs bringing them down; it's just plain ol' machine-gun fire.

Some aspects of the recent crashes indicate that insurgents have become smarter about anticipating American flight patterns and finding ways to use old weapons to down helicopters, according to military and witness reports. The aircraft, many of which are equipped with sophisticated antimissile technology, still can be vulnerable to more conventional weapons fired from the ground.

The Times also points out:

Historically, improved tactics in shooting down helicopters have proved to be important factors in conflicts in which guerrillas have achieved victories against major powers, including battles in Somalia, Afghanistan and Vietnam.