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The Mirror March 19, 2003

Countdown to War: It Will Cost a Bomb

By Mark Ellis, Foreign Editor

pounds 96,000; PRICEY: GBU-16 laser-guided bomb; pounds 172,000; DEADLY: AGM-65 Maverick missile

THE price of freedom in Iraq will be calculated in blood, sweat, tears - and cold, hard cash.

Experts predict Saddam's regime will fall quickly, but they will be the most expensive few days and weeks of combat in history.

The White House predicts the onslaught will cost around pounds 42billion, but that rockets to pounds 96billion when Britain and other allies have been taken into account. For a clash that planners predict will last just days this makes it the mother of all budget-busters.

John Pike of the Washington Military Research Institute [GlobalSecurity.org] said: "Never, ever in the history of human conflict has such a vast material advantage been displayed by one fighting force over another.

"This war will be decided by the factories and research institutes of the USA."

On the first day, allied aircraft will attack Saddam's forces with more bombs and rockets than they used in a week of the last Gulf war.

These include AIM-7 Sparrow missiles costing pounds 80,000 a piece, AIM-9 Sidewinders at pounds 41,000 each, AGM-84E/SLAM Harpoons costing pounds 182,000, AGM-65G Mavericks at pounds 172,000 and the pounds 96,000 GBU-16 laser-guided bombs.

Three thousand computer-guided bombs of all categories will fall in the first 48 hours at a cost of pounds 3.2billion.

So called "dumb bombs" - those which fall without guidance systems - cost between pounds 1,950 and pounds 17,100. More than pounds 64million worth are scheduled for detonation in the first 48 hours.

Many of them will be delivered by F/A18 E Super Hornet combat aircraft that come out at a cool pounds 57million a piece - cheap compared to smart bombs that will be delivered by the B2 Stealth bombers which cost pounds 1.34billion.

Other aircraft likely to be involved include the B1-B bomber at pounds 207million, the F117 at pounds 27million, the F14 Tomcat at pounds 87million, the F15 Eagle at pounds 21million, the F16 Falcon which costs pounds 12 million, and the F22 Raptor a snip at pounds 131million. Firing at Iraqis in their trenches, tanks and bunkers will be the close- quarter aircraft such as the A10 Warthog. It costs pounds 7.5million and fires Hellfire anti-tank rockets that set taxpayers back pounds 25,000 each.

The Tomahawk Cruise missile will also play a vital role in the opening hours of the campaign, with each costing almost pounds 1million.

More than 300 were launched on the first day of the Gulf War in 1991. Plans this time around call for perhaps as many as 5,000 in the first 96 hours costing a staggering pounds 9billion.

Five aircraft carriers from the American fleet of 12 are in position to launch the waves of missiles and planes launched to destroy and demoralise Saddam Hussein forces.

These ships are worth a total of pounds 19billion and each one costs more than pounds 8million to fuel and feed each and every month.

On the ground will move the armoured leviathans such as the M1 Abrams main battle tank - 1,000 of them costing pounds 1.9million each.

Backing them up is double the number of Bradley Armoured fighting vehicles costing more than pounds 1million a piece.


Copyright 2003, MGN Ltd.