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Operation Deliberate Force

After the fall of the eastern Bosnian "safe areas," in July 1995, the international community agreed to steps to extend NATO air power. NATO extended its threat of air strikes against Bosnian Serbs if they attacked any of the remaining "safe areas" in Bosnia. "Safe areas" include Gorazde, Tuzla, Bihac and Sarajevo. Serb forces wasted no time testing the world's will and launched attacks against the "safe areas" of Zepa, Bihac and Sarajevo. To complicate things even further, Croatian forces entered the fighting in early August.

NATO launched a sustained air strike campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, beginning on August 30, 1995, against Bosnian Serb military targets in response to a Bosnian Serb mortar attack on civilians in Sarajevo.

Air strikes were conducted on eleven days during the period 29 August through 14 September 1995. Of the total of 3515 sorties flown, 2470 were penetrating sorties, which included attacks on 48 target complexes [consisting of 338 individual targets within target complexes]. Of the 1026 bombs dropped, precision munitions numbered 708 and non-precision munitions 318.

On 30 August 1995 a French Mirage 2000K was shot down by a man-portable surface-to-air missile, 20 NM SE of Pale. Efforts to locate and rescue the downed French aircrew continued until 28 Sep 95 when French authorities informed CINCSOUTH of their conviction that the French aircrew had been "recovered alive and taken into custody by the Bosnian Serbs."

In the view of the US Defense Department, Operation DELIBERATE FORCE proved that airpower can have a decisive role when serving achievable, clear policy objectives. Airpower's efforts in helping to lift the siege of Sarejevo saved lives and helped pave the way for a negotiated settlement. Deliberate Force was the crucial step in bringing the warring parties to the negotiating table at Dayton, leading to the peace agreement.


  • Total sorties flown: 3515
    • Penetrating sorties (CAS, BAI, SEAD, RECCE, SAR/CSAR): 2470
    • Support sorties (NAEW, ABCCC, ELINT/ESM, AAR,): 1045
  • Total bombs dropped: 1026
    • Precision munitions: 708
    • Non-precision munitions: 318
  • Airstrikes were conducted on eleven days during the period 29 Aug - 14 Sep 95
    • 48 target complexes
    • 338 individual targets within target complexes
    FRANCE			  84			  8.1% 
    GERMANY			  59			  1.7% 
    ITALY			  35			  1.0%
    NETHERLANDS		 198			  5.6%
    SPAIN			  12			  3.4%
    TURKEY			  78			  2.2%
    UNITED KINGDOM		 326			  9.3%
    UNITED STATES		2318			 65.9%
    NATO (NAEW)		  96			  2.7%
    TOTAL			3515			100.0% 
    TYPE MUNITION                              TOTAL
    Laser Guided Bomb
    LGB/GBU 10                                   303 
    LGB/GBU 12                                   125 
    LGB/GBU 16                                   215 
    LGB/GBU 24                                     6 
    LGB/GBU AS30L                                  4 
    LGB/GBU TOTAL                                653 
    EO/IR SLAM GUIDED MISSILE                     10 
    EO/IR GBU-15 GUIDED MISSILE                    9 
    EO/IR MAVRICK GUIDED MISSILE                  23 
    EO/IR TOTAL                                   42 
    Tomahawk Cruise Missile                       13 
    GRAND TOTAL                                  708 
    TYPE MUNTION                               TOTAL
    MK 82                                        175 
    MK 83                                         99 
    MK 84                                         42 
    CBU-87                                         2 
    GRAND TOTAL                                  318 


  • Operation Deliberate ForceALLIED FORCES SOUTHERN EUROPE Fact Sheet
  • "The Balkans Air Campaign Study: Part 1," Lt Col Robert C. Owen, Air Power Journal Vol. XI, No. 2 (Summer 1997): 4-24.
  • "The Balkans Air Campaign Study: Part 2," Lt Col Robert C. Owen, Air Power Journal Vol. XI, No. 3 (Fall 1997): 6-26.
  • Deliberate Force By John A. Tirpak, Air Force Magazine October 1997
    A three-week air campaign in the fall of 1995 was the decisive factor in bringing the recalcitrant Serbs to the peace talks in Dayton.
  • Deliberate Force: Reaffirmation of the Gulf Experience Air Power Studies Centre PAPER NUMBER 53 Richard P. Hallion

  • Serbian air defenses a threat (AFNS) 12 September 1995 -- Bosnian Serb air defenses continue to present a high-threat environment for NATO air crews attacking military positions in support of Operation Deliberate Force. Although the Serbs have fewer surface-to-air missiles than the coalition force faced during Operation Desert Storm, the Serbs show a higher proficiency with the weapons than the Iraqis did.
  • Joint cooperation key to deliberate force (AFNS) 11 September 1995 -- NATO aircraft flying in support of Operation Deliberate Force continue to streak over the Adriatic Sea to deliver their weapons to Bosnian Serb military targets. The multi-national force has combined to deliver more than 300 tons of ordnance during the operation's nearly 1,200 sorties. U.S. Air Force crews and aircraft account for about 800 of the sorties.
  • NATO air strikes continue (AFNS) 06 September 1995 -- Fighter aircraft bristling with weapons left here in waves Sept. 6 to continue the air strikes resumed Sept. 5 on Bosnian Serb strongholds. The attacks were temporarily halted to permit meetings between U.N. and Bosnian Serb leaders, but resumed Tuesday when it became apparent the Serbs would not meet U.N. and NATO demands.
  • NATO RECOMMENCES AIR STRIKES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBSTRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADMIRAL LEIGHTON W. SMITH COMMANDER IN CHIEF ALLIED FORCES SOUTHERN EUROPE 06 September 1995 -- As you know, NATO air assets recommenced strike operations against Bosnian Serb military significant targets in Bosnia Herzegovina. The reason for the recommencement is that NATO and the United Nations have collectively agreed on certain conditions which must be met.
  • Statement by the Secretary General of NATO 05 September 1995 -- NATO aircraft operating within the provisions of Operation "Deliberate Force", today, at 13.08 LOCAL, resumed attacks on Bosnian-Serb military targets in Bosnia. The air operations were reinitiated after UN and NATO military commanders concluded that the Bosnian Serbs had failed to demonstrate their intent to comply with United Nations demands to remove military threats against Sarajevo.
  • Commander relates Aviano role in Deliberate Force (AFNS) 05 September 1995 -- Scores of thunderous, white-hot afterburners lit up the pre-dawn skies here Aug. 30 as waves of Aviano-based jets joined in the largest strike mission over Bosnia-Herzegovina since NATO's Operation Deny Flight began more than two years ago.
  • Air strikes on Bosnia resume (AFNS) 05 September 1995 -- NATO aircraft resumed Operation Deliberate Force air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions Sept. 5 after a three-day lull. More than 100 sorties were flown by the multinational coalition assembled here as part of Operation Deny Flight, enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • President warns Bosnian Serbs Air Force News Service 01 September 1995 -- President Clinton warned Bosnian Serbs to end their civil war the same day he kicked off events to honor the end of World War II. Greeted by a cheering, flag-waving crowd of about 700 people on the base flightline Aug. 31, Clinton said NATO bombing strikes against Bosnian targets were "the right response to the savagery in Sarajevo."
  • NATO begins air strikes on Bosnia (AFNS) 30 August 1995 -- NATO aircraft began attacks on Bosnian Serb military targets in Bosnia Aug 30. The NATO - and United Nations-approved air strikes included air defense missile sites, radar sites, and communication facilities. More than 60 aircraft from several NATO nations operating from bases in Italy and the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt participated in the initial strikes.
  • NATO Statement by Sec. Gen. Will Claes 30 August 1995 -- ``NATO aircraft operating with the provisions of Operation Deny Flight today (30 August 1995) just after 00:00 GMT (0200 local) commenced attacks on Bosnian Serb military targets in Bosnia. The air operations were initiated after the U.N. military commanders concluded, beyond reasonable doubt, that Monday's brutal mortar attack in Sarajevo came from Bosnian Serb positions.
  • Clinton: U.S. should be prepared to assist NATO (AFNS) 07 June 1995 -- President Bill Clinton believes America should be prepared to assist NATO if the alliance decides to meet a request from the United Nations for help in a withdrawal or a reconfiguration and a strengthening of its forces in Bosnia.

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