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Operation Allied Force - Order of Battle

Operation Determined Force / Allied Force Order of Battle History and Trends

This resource is a "best available guesstimate" of the buildup of NATO forces in support of Operation Allied Force, circa June 1999. The careful reader will notice that there are more than a few discrepancies between the totals reported and the specific deployments noted (which do not "add up" to the officially reported totals). This probably reflects some combination of incomplete deployment reports, changes in the allocation of previously deployed aircraft to the Allied Force air tasking order, as well as changes in the definition of which types of aircraft were included in the reported totals (a notorious problem in tracking aircraft deployed against Iraq at this time too).

However, over time it became apparent that there were at least 2 systematic "discrepancies" in the official presentations of order of battle information. The first clearly derived from the careless (or perhaps extremely careful) use of the term "deployed", a term which the casual observer might associate with "operational in theater" aircraft, but which for NATO purposes apparently was also associated with "in theater but not yet available for operational tasking" or "committed and preparing to move to the theater." The confusion caused by this discrepancy was compounded by the apparent practice of providing order of battle aggregates for either Operation Allied Force, or for all operations associated with the Kosovo conflict, without clarifying which operations were included in the totals.

As of 6 May 1999, the US Department of Defense announced that the total number of US planes committed to Operation Allied Force was 639, along with 277 allied planes, for a total of 916 aircraft. This total apparently reflected "commitments" rather than actual deployments as of that date. Subsequently, it was announced on 21 May 1999 that the US total was 712 aircraft and the NATO total was 281 aircraft, while NATO announced on 23 May 1999 that the US and other NATO total was 852 aircraft.

In early 1999, a total of as many as 430 aircraft from NATO countries were assigned responsibilities if called on. However, with the mid-March 1999 transfer of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise from the Adriatic Sea to the Persian Gulf, the total number of aircraft tasked with Kosovo-related operations declined to fewer than 400 aircraft. With deployments of additional aircraft and helicopters ordered at the end of March 1999, the total rose to well over 500 aircraft, and with the arrival of the USS Roosevelt in early April 1999 the total was roughly 550 aircraft and helicopters. Additional aircraft assigned in mid-April 1999 brought the total to roughly 700 aircraft. The precise number was somewhat uncertain, since it did not include other combat aircraft in-theater assigned to other operations and responsibilities. While the announced number of non-US other NATO aircraft as of 16 April 1999 was about 190, the bottom-up bean-count total was about 235 aircraft, with the difference possibly reflecting the allocation of Italian aircraft to territorial airspace defense missions.

NATO countries providing support first to Operation Determined Force, which began in October 1998, and then to Operation Allied Force, which began in March 1999, included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States. As of 25 January 1999, over 300 aircraft were committed to Kosovo operations and many of them were already deployed forward on stand-by at various air bases in Italy and other NATO nations or on carrier vessels. Depending on which of the limited air or phased air options was implemented, the sustainment of the operation was anticipated to require from 300 to 400 aircraft. Oddly enough, the USS Enterprise departed the Adriatic in mid-March 1999 to join the USS Vinson on station in the Persian Gulf shortly prior to the escalation of tensions over Kosovo, leaving no American carrier on station in the Adriatic to support Operation Allied Force. Ships and squadrons of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Battle Group deployed on 26 March 1999 from their east coast bases for a scheduled 6-month deployment.

In January 2000, the US Department of Defense released an Operation Allied Force after action report to Congress, in which it noted that on 24 March 1999, 214 US aircraft and 130 allied aircraft were poised at bases in Europe ready to initiate combat operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. B-2 aircraft operating from the heartland of the United States augmented these aircraft. By June 1999, the total number of US aircraft in Europe had grown to 731. During that same period, allied contributions more than doubled to over 300 aircraft. In addition, non-US NATO allies provided virtually all the basing facilities, air traffic coordination, and supporting elements to keep this air armada of over 1,000 aircraft functioning throughout the conflict.

Figures and comments in grey cells represent otherwise unspecified deployments indicated by subsequently reported ORBAT totals.
04-Mar439278161-55 EA-6B depart
10-Mar364203161-75USS Enterprise departs
19-Mar37121016173 EA-6B & 4 KC-135
29-Mar37121016144 UK Harriers
30-Mar375210165DOD says NATO total is about 375 aircraft
31-Mar375210165DOD says US has 210 aircraft
01-Apr395230165205 B-1, 5 EA-6B & 10 tankers added
02-Apr40123017166 CF-18 added
03-Apr4142431711310 F-15 jets and 3 EA-6B from Incirlik
04-Apr4272561711313 F-117 arrive Germany
05-Apr44825619221UK adds 8 Harrier, 8 Tornado, 2 Tristar & 3 E-3D
06-Apr52333119275USS Roosevelt closes
10-Apr56637419282 more US aircraft committed, DOD says total will be 480
11-Apr58337420917HMS Invincible
12-Apr6073982092420th FW - 24 F-16CJs arrive Aviano
13-Apr6124032095SACEUR requests 300 more US aircraft
14-Apr63242320920Additional US aircraft deploy
15-Apr65244320920Additional US aircraft deploy
16-Apr67246320920DOD says US has 463 aircraft, NATO 190 aircraft
17-Apr6864772091482 more US aircraft close??, DOD says total will be 480
18-Apr68948020933 more EA-6B deploy, Canada will deploy 6 more CF-18 in 2 weeks
19-Apr71450520925AH-64 + support helicopters closing
20-Apr74053120926AH-64 + support helicopters closing
21-Apr7445312134Belgium deploys 4 more F-16
22-Apr7485312174Netherlands deploys 4 more F-16AM
23-Apr7515312203Denmark deploys 3 more F-16
24-Apr751531220NATO claims 690 aircraft in theater [excluding TF HAWK??]
25-Apr751531220500-600 US aircraft include 137 tankers
26-Apr7565362205AH-64 + support helicopters close- total = 56
27-Apr7825622202647 ANG & AFR KC-135 activated to deploy by 01 May
28-Apr79557522013DOD says 575 US aircraft as of 28 April
29-Apr795575220US announces 13 more, mainly bombers, arriving in a week
30-Apr8005752255UK announces 4 Tornadoes, 4 Harriers, 1 Tristar
01-May8065752316Canada will deploy 6 more CF-18 in 2 weeks
02-May81958823113US - 13 more, mainly bombers, close?
03-May8406092312147 ANG & AFR KC-135 activated to deploy by 01 May
04-May8466092376Canada deploys 6 more CF-18
05-May846609237US says SACEUR requested 300 US aircraft will close in 30 days
06-May846609237US commits 176 more, says 639 US and 277 Allied aircraft "committed"
07-May846609237France will send 22 more aircraft
10-May860609251NATO total estimated @ ~ 255
11-May88260927322France will send 22 more aircraft - closure date??
12-May91864527336?? US additional 176 deploy ??
13-May918645273US total is 645 aircraft
14-May918645273US + NATO total is 922 aircraft
15-May93265927314?? US additional 176 deploy ??
16-May932659273US + NATO total is 930-940 aircraft
17-May9396662737?? US additional 176 deploy ??
18-May9576842731818 more A-10 deployed
19-May96168827325?? US additional 176 deploy ??
20-May9857122732424 F/A-18 deployed at Taszar
21-May9977122818Commitments -- US total is 712 and NATO total is 281
22-May976712264-17HMS Invincible withdrawn
23-May976712264US + NATO actual total is 852 aircraft
24-May976712264Total involved = 723 US and 281 NATO
25-May102671231450Hungary ~50
26-May1041717324 510Total = 1052 -- US total is 717 and NATO total is 324
28-May1041717324F/A-18D operational in Hungary
31-May1037717320Commitment = 1,089 Total - 769 US & 320 NATO aircraft
01-Jun104171732444 more UK Tornado
02-Jun1041717324Planned Commitment = 1,259 Total - 982 US & 277 NATO aircraft
05-Jun10617373242020 KC-135R to Turkey
06-Jun10797373421818 Turkish F-16 deployed
07-Jun10917493421212 US F-16CJ deployed to Turkey
08-Jun11097673421818 US F-15E deployed to Turkey
09-Jun11277853421818 US F-15E deployed to Turkey
10-Jun1098785313-29Foch withdrawn

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 16-10-2013 13:34:01 ZULU