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US fires 1,000 cruise missiles in 'shock and awe' blitzkrieg

Allied air forces flew 1,000 strike sorties and fired 1,000 cruise missiles on Iraq on Friday.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2003 13:52 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

US and British air forces flew 1,000 strike sorties and fired 1,000 cruise missiles in Iraq on Friday in a barrage of firepower aimed at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime, a US defence official said.

Regime command and control, security and leadership installations were targeted as well as sites related to weapons of mass destruction and the integrated air defence system, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

"They flew from 30 air bases in a dozen countries and five carriers," said the official. "No strike aircraft were lost."

Over a 24-hour period on March 21 Iraqi time, US and British forces struck 1,500 targets with precision guided bombs and cruise missiles, the official said.

B-2 stealth bombers launched raids from their home base at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, flying 38 hours round trip to drop 2,000 pound satellite guided bombs on targets in Iraq, the official said.

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B-52 bombers fired conventional air launched cruise missiles on missions flown both from Fairford RAF, Britain and the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, the official said.

Also taking part in the raids were long-range B-1 bombers, F-117 stealth fighters, F-15 strike fighters, F-16 fighters, F/A-18 fighters, and A-10 Thunderbolt attack planes, according to the official.

They encountered heavy anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air fire, they said.

In all, 1,000 cruise missiles were fired both from B-52s and US navy ships in the Gulf, the official said.

US and British aircraft flew 2,000 sorties, including 1,000 strike sorties during the 24-hour period, according to the official.

"It was the first time in history that all PGMs (precision guided munitions) were used" in such a wide assault, the official said.

"Bomb damage assessment is still ongoing," the official said.

They dropped mainly satellite-guided 2,000 pound Joint Direct Action Munitions (JDAMS), some of them with ground penetrating warhead, the official said.

F-117 stealth fighters dropped 2,000 pound GBU-27 laser-guided "bunker busting" bombs during the raids, the official said.

But no 5,000-pound GBU-28 "bunker busting" bombs were used in the attacks, the official said.

Nor was the new 21,000 pound Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb or the 15,000-pound "Daisy Cutter" bomb, the two biggest conventional bombs in the US arsenal, the official said.

First Published: Mar 22, 2003 10:24 IST