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Operation Desert Storm:
Evaluation of the Air Campaign
(Letter Report, 06/12/97, GAO/NSIAD-97-134)


Appendix VII

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.1

The F-117 was originally only intended for selected missions against
heavily defended, high-value targets.  The F-117's unique
"low-observable" design narrows the range of its mission capability
compared to other nonstealthy aircraft. 

Before the war, planners primarily tasked the F-117s to high-value,
heavily defended, air defense, C\3 , leadership, and NBC targets in
and around Baghdad.  The targets actually attacked by the F-117s
became somewhat more diverse as the war progressed.  According to an
F-117 after-action report, the doctrinal target list for the F-117
"went out the window."

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.2

Pre-air campaign mission plans for the F-111F focused on low-altitude
air interdiction against strategic targets, such as airfields, radar
sites, and chemical weapons bunkers.  However, like all other
aircraft, almost all Desert Storm missions were conducted at
medium-to-high altitude.  Another deviation from pre-Desert Storm
mission planning for the F-111F were LGB strikes against tanks
commonly referred to after the war as "tank plinking."

The F-111F was the only Desert Storm aircraft to deliver the GBU-15
and the 5,000-pound laser-guided, penetrating GBU-28. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.3

Pre-Desert Storm plans focused largely on an air interdiction role
for the F-15E.  However, the F-15E minimally participated in the
overall air interdiction effort.  Rather, F-15E missions were
predominantly Scud hunting, reconnaissance, and antiarmor missions in
kill boxes. 

The F-15E is one of three U.S.  Air Force LGB-capable platforms, yet
the majority of the bomb tonnage delivered by the F-15E was unguided. 
Because of the limited number of LANTIRN targeting pods, only
one-quarter of the F-15Es deployed to the Persian Gulf had the
capability of autonomously delivering LGBs. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.4

Pre-Desert Storm plans involved air interdiction for A-6s with some
emphasis on attacking airfields and Iraqi air defenses located at
airfields.  A-6s conducted air interdiction missions against a range
of Desert Storm strategic targets, delivering the bulk of the bombs
dropped on naval targets. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.5

Initial air campaign plans tasked F-16s mostly during the daylight
hours in large strike packages against targets such as airfields,
chemical weapons storage areas, Scud missile production facilities,
Republican Guard locations, leadership targets, and military storage
facilities.  Several strikes against strategic targets in the Baghdad
area occurred during the first
2 weeks of the war.  F-16s conducted a proportionately large number
of strikes against C\3 , NBC, OCA, and OIL targets.  F-16 pilots told
us that their missions further evolved at the end of the war to
patrolling highways and rivers and striking and harassing targets of
opportunity such as trucks, repaired bridges, and barges. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.6

F/A-18s were initially assigned to carry out suppression of enemy air
defenses, fleet defense combat air patrol, escort of other strike
aircraft, and attacks against a range of ground targets.  As Iraqi
threats against Navy aircraft carriers were degraded, the number of
F/A-18 CAP sorties was reduced while those allocated to interdiction
increased.  However, the F/A-18's lack of an autonomous laser for
delivery of LGBs was cited in DOD's title V report as a

\1 See Naval Aviation:  The Navy Is Taking Actions to Improve the
Combat Capabilities of Its Tactical Aircraft (GAO/NSIAD-93-204, July
7, 1993), for more information on F/A-18 limitations in Desert Storm. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.7

When planners began to construct the air campaign plan, they did not
anticipate tasking the A-10 against strategic targets.  However, the
role of the A-10 in the campaign evolved as the events of the war
unfolded.  The lower air defense threat in Scud launching areas
enabled planners to task the A-10 against these targets and to
capitalize on the A-10's large payload capacity and loitering
ability.  Intense AAA and IR SAM threats encountered near RG targets
motivated the Air Force to largely assign the A-10s to lower threat

According to the pilots we interviewed, combat air support performed
by the A-10 was difficult and nontraditional.  For example, much of
it was performed at night for both the Marines and the Army, when a
key problem was how to identify targets.  Although the A-10 is
generally considered a day-only aircraft, two squadrons flew night
missions [DELETED]. 

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.8

Over two-thirds of the B-52 missions were directed against Iraqi
ground forces, with the remainder against targets such as military
industrial facilities, electrical power plants, and airfields.  B-52s
flew just over 3 percent of the total air combat missions, but
because of the aircraft's uniquely large payload, these accounted for
30 percent of the total bomb tonnage released.\2

The Strategic Air Command officially reported the B-52 CEP to be
[DELETED].  This level of inaccuracy resulted from the high winds
that affected unguided bomb ballistics and from an error introduced
by a contractor in misidentifying the ground coordinates of targets. 

\2 See Operation Desert Storm:  Limits on the Role and Performance of
B-52 Bombers in Conventional Conflicts (GAO/NSIAD-93-138, May 12,

----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:0.9

The British Tornado had a visible and consistent role in the
strategic air campaign, being one of the few non-U.S.  coalition
aircraft assigned missions in the final, command-approved, version of
the Master Attack Plan.  A primary planned mission for the Tornado
was attacking runways with the JP233 munition at very low altitude. 
However, the combination of four British Tornado losses in the first
week of the air campaign and the command decision to go to
medium-altitude operations brought an end to these planned missions. 

In the remaining 5 weeks of the air campaign, the primary Tornado
mission was air interdiction at medium altitude against a variety of
target types.  Many of the new targets were point targets, like
hardened aircraft shelters and bridges believed to necessitate LGBs. 
Because the Tornado had no laser self-designation capability, buddy
lasing tactics with the British Buccaneer aircraft were attempted.  A
British Ministry of Defense report suggests that the buddy lasing
experience demonstrated the need for laser self-designation
capability in the Tornado.\3

\3 British Ministry of Defense, The Gulf Conflict:  Lessons Learned,
p.  8-6.