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More U.S. Fighters Join NATO Air Campaign

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 2, 1999 – Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has directed 12 more F-117 stealth fighters to join NATO Operation Allied Force, Pentagon officials announced here April 1.

The 12, plus one to replace the fighter lost over Yugoslavia March 27, are from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Their arrival this weekend will bring the total number of stealth fighters to 24 and the total number of U.S. aircraft taking part in the air campaign to 210, said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon.

NATO forces continue striking Serb army units, ammunition dumps and other targets primarily in Kosovo, Bacon said. "We believe these attacks were successful," he said. "But again, the weather has made it difficult to have a very affirming picture of what happened."

NATO has expanded the operation's target list to include communication lines and major transportation routes. Air strikes took out a bridge across the Danube River, for example, to disrupt the flow of military supplies, equipment and troops.

NATO's goal is to degrade Yugoslav forces' ability to continue their offensive against Kosovar Albanians, alliance officials said in Brussels April 2. Serb forces are beginning to experience fuel shortages, they reported.

Along with affecting Milosevic's military, the NATO attacks are straining daily life in Yugoslavia, the officials said. Bread shortages are reported and diesel fuel has disappeared almost entirely because it's all going to the military effort.

Humanitarian aide organizations are rapidly mobilizing to deal with the ever-growing refugee crisis on Kosovo's borders. More than 25,000 refugees arrived at the Macedonia border April 2, NATO officials said.

NATO authorities now estimate one third of Kosovo's population -- about 634,000 people -- have been displaced by the fighting. The Serb offensive has created ghost towns in the southern province, NATO officials said. In Pristina, Kosovos major city, 30,000 people have been rounded up and forced to leave in the last 24 hours, a NATO spokesman said April 2.

NATO nations are contributing support to the relief effort. Italy and Greece have sent troops to Albania to help distribute food, build shelters and provide medical aid. NATO has directed its enabling force commander in Macedonia to use NATO troops to help with the influx of refugees there.

The United States has allocated $50 million for the relief effort, half to be provided by the Defense Department in the form of humanitarian daily rations, tents and other supplies.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn F-117 Nighthawk from the 49th Fighter Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., taxis to the runway before taking off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, on March 24, 1999. As of April 1, a total of 24 U.S. F-117s are participating in NATO Operation Allied Force. SRA Jeffrey Allen, 1st Combat Camera Sq.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn unidentified airman of the 31st Air Expeditionary Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, provides a morale boost to his fellow flyers as they taxi out in support of NATO Operation Allied Force over Kosovo. The squadron is assigned to the 31st Air Expeditionary Wing here, which launched NATO aircraft for combat missions over the former Yugoslavia republic March 24, 1999.  
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