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Perisan Gulf War
U.S. warplanes fired on Iraqi anti-aircraft missile
sites in the country’s northern no-fly zone today, the third
such incident this week.
At least one F-16 and one EA-6B Prowler fired at least three
High-speed Anti Radiation Missiles (HARM) at Iraqi surface to air missile
sites and early warning radar systems. All U.S. forces returned safely to
their bases. The Pentagon said the incidents involved U.S. warplanes
performing a routine patrol of the northern no-fly zone. They
fired on Iraqi early-warning radar sites near the city of
Today’s radar bombing was the seventh such incident in the
past two weeks. On Monday U.S. fighter jets attacked two
Iraqi missile sites in the northern no-fly zone.
Saddam Beefs Up Threat
U.S. officials say that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has
nearly doubled the number of surface-to-air missile batteries
in the no-fly zones patrolled by American and British
warplanes and is using them with increasing frequency to threaten allied
The increased threat, combined with a rash of Iraqi violations of the
no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq, has created a “very highly
charged environment” for allied pilots wary of being drawn into a trap,
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Mike Doubleday said Tuesday.
Doubleday said Iraq’s challenges to the no-fly zones fit a pattern of
actions by Saddam that seem designed to rid Iraq of the tough
international constraints imposed on it after the 1991 Gulf War in which
Iraq’s army was ousted from Kuwait.
U.S. Will Take Action
“Certainly when our pilots and air crews feel threatened by the activities
of the Iraqis in the no-fly zone, we take action to protect pilots and air
crews,” Doubleday said. “And this was exactly what happened in this
The northern no-fly zone was set up in 1991 north of the 36th parallel
to keep Iraq from attacking minority Kurds. The southern zone,
established in 1992, is below the 33rd parallel and is meant to protect the
rebellious Shiite Muslims and to prevent Iraqi attacks on Kuwait or Saudi
Since the U.S. and British air campaign against Iraq in mid-December,
Saddam has begun challenging the no-fly zones. He has increased the
number of surface-to-air missile sites in the no-fly zones from nine in
mid-December to 17 now, a senior U.S. official said.
In all, Iraq has about 110 surface-to-air missile launchers throughout
the country, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. The senior U.S.
official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the whereabouts of 13
of them are not known.
Iraq Violates ‘No-Fly’ Zones
The official said Iraq has sent aircraft — including armed helicopters —
into the two off-limit zones at least 66 times in the past two weeks. Seven
more incursions happened Tuesday.
Instead of seeing one or two Iraqi planes dart in and out of the no-fly
zones in cat-and-mouse fashion, U.S. and British warplanes now are
being harassed by several aircraft at the same time — such as an armed
helicopter and a fighter plane, the official said.
“Iraq previously used no-fly zone violations as a lure,” the official
said. “Now, they seem to be used as a distraction,” while other Iraqi
planes approach from a different angle. This also may bring the allied
aircraft within range of Iraq’s anti-aircraft missile batteries.
“He’s becoming much more aggressive” with the type of tactics his
military is employing, said the official, who has access to intelligence
reports about the conditions U.S. and British aircraft face in the no-fly
Saddam Hussein appears to have a three-part strategy in the recent
confrontations with U.S. and British fighters:
1 - to shoot down the aircraft with surface-to-air missiles by
drawing a pilot into what the Pentagon calls a "SAM-bush"
2 - to drum up as much regional support as possible
3 - to drive a wedge between permanent members of the U.N.
Security Council who disagree on how to handle Iraq.
Recent Incidents In the "No-Fly" Zones Include:
Dec. 27 The U.S. military observes Iraq flying Mi-8 and Mi-17
helicopters with AA-7 air-to-air missiles that could possibly be
used for a surprise attack on U.S. pilots. There are reports Iraqis
may have fired SA-2 or SA-6 surface-to-air missiles in the
southern no-fly zone.
Dec. 28 An Iraqi SA-3 missile battery near the northern city of
Mosul fires up to three missiles at U.S. aircraft. Two of them are
fired at four F-15Es and one at an F-16CJ. The U.S. responds by
having the F-16s fire three HARM missiles and three F-15Es each
drop two 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. Two days later
U.S. reconnaissance finds that the site has a new radar
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