I had noted right away in 1991, when Desert Storm
started, that trying to put the huge Iraqi airfields out
of action was a total waste of time and pilots' lives.
Some of the airfields were bigger than Heathrow, and
all had extremely heavy missile and gun defences, not
to mention the probably hundreds of soldiers (and some
civilians) who would be firing everything from AK47s,
PKs, RPKs, heavy KPVs, DShKs to sniper rifles at you.
A JP233 attack against an Iraqi military airfield in 1991
was nothing short of suicidal, requiring the Tornados to
fly straight and low across the vast runways.
The damage done by the small 75 pound bomblets was
small, easily and quickly repairable, and in any case the
huge airfields had redundancy with alternative runways.
The Iraqi combat aircraft were not coming out to fight
anyway, hiding in the very well hardened bunkers, and
even if they did, most would have been easily taken out
by the Coalition fighters. The airfields might as well have
been left alone as they were.
Quite a few aircrews lost their lives for virtually nothing.
" Deployment was rather frightening for the flight crew,
since it required the aircraft to fly low, straight and level
over an enemy airfield ... "
" The Iraqis quickly found that challenging coalition pilots
was tantamount to suicide and essentially remained inactive
throughout the remainder of the war. The runway attacks
apparently complicated Iraqi air base operations, but there is
little evidence to indicate they severely hampered sortie rates.
The JP233 submunitions were quite small, creating quickly
repairable scabs,24 and the redundant taxiway system
provided ample alternatives to reach the runway. "
" During the war's first week, Tornado aircraft attacked
daily to hinder Iraqi airfield operations. But proper delivery
of the JP233 required the aircraft to fly low across the
Iraqi airfields, allowing antiaircraft artillery and short-range
shoulder-fired missiles to take a disastrous toll. In the
war's opening phase, at least four Tornadoes were lost
during ineffectual airfield attacks, and about 100 JP233s
were expended. " Ignorance is Risk
" It was my impression that RAF fighter/bomber losses
during the first Gulf War had more to with the
characteristics of the JP-233 airfied denial weapon
than they did with low flying per se - namely the
necessity to fly straight and level for extended periods
over heavily defended airfields at low altitude in order
to deliver the bloody thing. "
" The key issue on the Tornado / JP233 wasn't the JP233 suicide
special, which is a symptom, rather than the main issue. What
did the RAF in 1991 was that its entire doctrine was quite insane
- and had been since the 1970s. "
" In 1991 all of the RAF casualties were operating against
Iraqi airfields. "
" Sadly for the RAF pilots who died in practise over 20
years the entire thing was a failure. It turns out that in real
life, somewhere in the middle of the low-level airfield
attack, loads of people armed with everything from rocks
to AK47s and SAMs are going to be shooting. Imagine that.
The RAF had an entire battalion of infantry that specialises
in defending an airfield so its unlikely that the RAF didn't
know that this might happen. "
" The numbers are grim - the RAF Tornadoes took 10 per
cent casualties within seven days of the start of their
anti-airfield operations - an overall loss rate of 0.15% per
sortie (and most sorties were simply stooging around).
The entire Coalition air force, 0.05 per cent casualties
per sortie in the entire Desert Storm operation (and that
includes the massive RAF casualties). The two numbers
are frightening when compared. Bear in mind this doctrine
was intended to go against a real Soviet air defence
mobilised for World War 3 in East Germany, not some
3rd world nation listed until 1901 under "where?". The RAF
casualty rate was unacceptable even against the Iraqis -
against the Russians the RAF would have been completely
ineffective. " Israel suspected of 'hacking' Syrian air defences ? The Register Forums