U.S. Strikes Twice
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 1999 U.S. air forces patrolling the northern no-fly zone struck Iraqi missile sites in two separate incidents Jan. 14.
In the first confrontation, a U.S. Air Force F-16CJ fired a high-speed anti-radiation missile at an Iraqi surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery system.
In the second incident, a U.S. F-15E launched a precision-guided missile at an Iraqi surface-to-air system.
In both instances, the pilots felt threatened by the Iraqi sites and took appropriate action, said Navy Capt. Mike Doubleday, a DoD spokesman. “The indicators that a pilot gets of the location of these sites is from radar illuminations,” he said.
Defense officials are trying to confirm initial reports that the Iraqi sites fired upon the U.S. planes, Doubleday said. “We don’t have any firm indicators at this point, but there is some question and we want to look into that,” he said.
Defense officials also received reports of artillery fire, he added. Coalition aircraft fly above the range of the anti-aircraft artillery, Doubleday noted.
There was no damage to U.S. aircraft during either incident.
At present, 38 U.S. aircraft support Operation Northern Watch, along with British and Turkish forces, out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. “We certainly appreciate the support of Turkey as we undertake this operation,” he added.
The number of American planes may go up in the future, Doubleday noted, as European Command officials evaluate the situation.
Doubleday confirmed that Turkish government officials have asked the United States to provide Patriot missile batteries in light of heightened tensions with Iraq, Doubleday said. U.S. officials believe Iraq retained some SCUD missile capability after the Gulf War.
“We are interested in being as supportive as we can to any of our coalition partners who are involved in this operation,” Doubleday said. “We will be looking at their request and reach a decision on that very soon.”
Coalition forces enforce the no-fly zones over Iraq, beyond the 36th parallel in the north and below the 33rd parallel in the south, in accordance with U.N. Security Resolutions 678, 687, and 688. Coalition pilots have flown a total of 200,000 sorties patrolling the zones mandated by the U.N. following the Gulf War to deter Iraq's use of aircraft against its people and its neighbors.
“We are determined to continue to enforce the no-fly zones as part of our overall policy with regard to Iraq,” Doubleday said.
Operation Southern Watch currently involves 182 U.S. aircraft. Eight more fighter jets along with four more tankers are on their way to the region.
About 24,600 American troops are currently in the Persian Gulf region, including 14,000 sailors and Marines, 6,500 airmen and 2,700 soldiers. Nearly 30 ships are in the area, including seven capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. About 180 U.S. aircraft are in the region.