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GlobalSecurity.org In the News

The Orlando Sentinel (Florida) March 20, 2003

Fighting An Air War;

U.S. Forces Are Key To An Effective Military Action Against Iraq, Providing Detailed Intelligence And Delivering Swift Attacks


DIAGRAM: GATHERING INTELLIGENCE; The process of gathering intelligence is an ongoing activity in peacetime and in war. This satellite image of suspected munitions sites in Iraq was presented to the U.N. Security Council by Secretary of State Colin Powell on Feb. 5.; During surveillance, information from photos, satellites and other sources is monitored for any threat or change in enemy activity. Surveillance is not focused on a particular target.; Reconnaissance relies on visual information, but is more specific. It focuses on a particular enemy activity or the geographic and meteorologic characteristics of an area.; .;

U.S. AIRBORNE OFFENSIVES; To win an air war in Iraq, U.S. forces must be able to conduct operations without interference from the enemy. A look at how that is achieved:; .;

ESTABLISH SPACE SUPERIORITY; Air-to-air or surface-to-surface attacks jam enemy satellite frequencies, destroy enemy launch operations and could eventually include attacks on satellites.; Iraq has systems in place that try to disrupt the Global Positioning System satellites that U.S. forces use to guide missiles to their targets. The origin of these systems is unknown.; .;

ESTABLISH AIR SUPERIORITY; Airborne sorties and missile launches target Iraqi air defenses and strategic targets. A look at 3 mission types:; Air-to-ground missions; A coordinated attack utilizing missiles, such as the Tomahawk, and long- and short-range bombers destroys or disrupts enemy targets.; Fighter sweeps; Fighter jets fly through or 'sweep' a designated portion of the enemy's airspace to remove enemy aircraft.; The F-18 Super Hornet can carry most U.S. bombs and has a 20mm cannon mounted in its nose.; Iraq's air force has a very limited number of aircraft, primarily Russian-made MiG jets.; Escort missions; Fighters accompany more-vulnerable aircraft. Modern fighters carry long-range air-to-air missiles in addition to their air-to-ground weapons.; B-52 Stratofortress is capable of delivering a wide array of bombs.; .; The Tomahawk cruise missile; Cruise missiles can strike with precision from 1,000 miles away. How they work:; 1 Tail fins and wings are deployed, and the missile descends to a low altitude to evade enemy radar.; 2 Global Positioning System satellites send time and location signals to the missile, guiding it to the target.; 3 A terrain-contour matching system navigates the missile through rough terrain to the target.; .;

AIRBORNE ARSENAL; A wide array of bombs and missiles would be used to strike Iraqi targets. Among them:; Hellfire missile; JDAM smart bomb; JSOW glide bomb; GBU-28 bunker buster; Tomahawk cruise missile; .;

DEFENSE AGAINST MISSILE ATTACKS; Missiles such as the Scud B pose a military threat to deployed forces, lines of communications and logistical facilities such as air bases and ports. A look at how U.S. air forces use Patriot missiles to react against an enemy missile attack:; 1 Scud B missiles, which can be coupled with chemical or biological warheads, can be launched almost 400 miles away from the target.; 2 An E-3 Sentry detects and locates a launch, and tracks the missile.; 3 Information is relayed to command-and-control facilities that activate a Patriot missile battery to shoot the Scud down.; 4 At the same time, the launcher location is sent to patrolling aircraft in the area to hunt and destroy the missile launcher and its support systems.; Iraq's missiles are the biggest threats to U.S. forces. Iraq has an assortment of short-range ballistic missiles and may have a few dozen Russian Scud missiles.; Scud missiles can wobble in flight, making it difficult for Patriot missiles to hit them.; .; Passive defense measures Noncombative actions can reduce the effectiveness of an enemy strike, including:; Decreasing the concentration of troops and equipment in compounds makes the target less attractive.; Bunkers and fortifications help protect aircraft, command- and- control centers and communication nodes.; Duplicating critical systems, such as communications nodes, helps preserve the ability to fight.;

SOURCES: U.S. Air Force, Central Intelligence Agency, The Associated Press, Federation of American Scientists, GlobalSecurity.org, KRT, The New York Times; SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

Copyright 2003, Sentinel Communications Co.