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Persian Gulf War

In January 1991, the role of air power in modern warfare was dramatically demonstrated during the Persian Gulf War. Adhering to the military doctrine "Airland Battle," behind-the-lines attacks were made on Iraqi command and control centers, communication facilities, supply depots, and reinforcement forces, and air superiority was established before armored ground units moved in.

The initial attacks included Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships in the Persian Gulf, F-117A Stealth fighter-bombers armed with laser-guided smart bombs, and F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft loaded with HARM anti-radar missiles. Timed to eliminate or reduce the effectiveness of Iraq's ground radar defenses, these attacks permitted the F-14, F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 fighter bombers to achieve air superiority and drop TV and laser-guided bombs. The A-10 Thunderbolt, with its Gatling gun and heat-seeking or optically guided Maverick missiles, provided support for ground units and destroyed Iraqi armor. The AH-64 Apache and the AH-1 Cobra helicopters fired laser-guided Hellfire missiles, guided to tanks by ground observers or scout helicopters. Also essential to the allied air fleet were the E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), and an aging fleet of B-52Gs.

Over 2250 combat aircraft, including 1800 U.S. craft, participated against Iraq's approximately 500 Soviet-built MiG-29s and French-made Mirage F-1s. By the end of the fifth week, more than 88,000 combat missions had been flown by allied forces, with over 88,000 tons of bombs dropped.

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