Tracking Number:  170124

Title:  A total of 69 Iraqi aircraft, including 39 Air Force fighters and 30 other civilian and military transport planes, have been flown to neutral territory in Iran. DoD Report. (910128)

Date:  19910128


01/28/91 8Dd Br DEFENSE DEPARTMENT REPORT, MONDAY, JANUARY 28 (Gulf developments) (880)


A total of 69 Iraqi aircraft, including 39 Air Force fighter-bombers and 30 other civilian and military transport planes, have been flown to neutral territory in Iran, a U.S. spokesman in Riyadh told reporters January 28.

Speaking at a 1500 GMT news briefing which was monitored at the Pentagon, Army Brigadier General Pat Stevens said military planners are delighted to see the exodus "because every one one of those aircraft that leaves Iraq is one less that we will have to engage in combat."

Asked whether the Iraqi jets might now be used to launch air strikes against coalition forces from Iran, the spokesman, who is deputy director of logistics for the U.S. Central Command, discounted that possibility.

"I'm not disappointed to see them flee into Iran because once there, they are no longer a threat to us," he said. But, he stressed, as long as Iraqi aircraft remain in the theater of operations, either in the air or on the ground, they will be attacked.

Eight nations are participating with the United States in the allied air campaign against Iraqi installations: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, Stevens noted. He said the round-the- clock air campaign continues to focus on priority targets such as the Iraqi military leadership, command-and-control, airfields, Scud surface-to-surface missiles, lines of communication, the elite Republican Guard, and battlefield preparation.

Over the past 24-hour period, Stevens said, more than 2,000 sorties were flown, 16 percent by U.S. coalition partners. He said 50 percent of all sorties are combat related.

The spokesman reported a U.S. AV-8B Harrier jet was lost during the period, while two U.S. F-15 Eagles shot down three Iraqi Mig 23s and an F-1 in a single engagement. On the Iraqi side, he said, 26 aircraft have now been lost in air-to-air combat.

GE 2 POL107 "We continue to target Scud missiles," Stevens said. "We believe we are being quite effective in doing so, and have seen a reduction in Iraq's ability to launch Scuds." There were no Scud launches January 27, leaving the total at 26 against Saudi Arabia and 25 toward Israel, the spokesman noted.

On the issue of the Iraqi-generated oil slick in the gulf, Stevens said U.S. military operations to halt the deliberate dumping of oil appear to have stopped the flow, but the situation is being closely watched. Following Stevens' briefing, Saudi military officials said there are indications that the oil slick is breaking up and a fire associated with the spill is decreasing in size.

Stevens said there are now 105 Iraqi prisoners of war and defectors in custody. British military engineers are building a holding area for them in Saudi Arabia, he noted.

Asked about civilian casualties, the U.S. spokesman stressed that collateral damage from bombing missions is avoided to the "maximum extent" possible, especially with respect to religious and national landmarks.

Stevens refused to speculate about the duration of the air campaign or possible follow-on phases such as a ground offensive. He would only repeat what other U.S. officials have stated previously: that the campaign is progressing as planned.

In a later January 28 military briefing by British officials, however, Army Brigadier Robert McAfee said his troops are moving to assembly areas "in preparation for the land battle." McAfee, who is assistant chief of staff for land operations at British Army headquarters, said the British are preparing to act in the event that air strikes alone cannot liberate Kuwait. He also noted that several vital Iraqi airfields have been destroyed and are not being repaired.

Another British briefer, Group Captain Niall Irving, said the expected air sortie rate is being exceeded "day after day" by the British Royal Air Force. He said Iraqi military gasoline storage areas are being targeted as a means to deny Iraq's Saddam Hussein the ability "to refuel his military machine."

In general, Irving said, British forces are working to ensure the liberation of Kuwait "as quickly and sensibly as possible with the minimum of casualties on both sides and with the minimum of impact on both the Kuwaiti and Iraqi populations."

On the issue of Iraqi chemical weapons sites, Irving said Iraqi production facilities have been destroyed, but that

GE 3 POL107 Iraq retains "a massive capability" with respect to chemical weapons storage capacity.

In the daily Saudi military briefing, Saudi Colonel Ahmed al-Robayan of the Joint Arab Forces said Saudi naval forces are searching for Iraqi minelaying vessels and watching for possible Iraqi military action from oil platforms. Two more floating sea mines were located in recent hours in the Northern Arabian Gulf, he said, and Saudi and U.S. mine disposal experts will destroy them.

The Saudi briefer also noted that U.S. Navy A-6 Intruder aircraft attacked two Iraqi vessels near the entrance to Kuwait City harbor. He confirmed that one was destroyed.

The Saudi Royal Air Force has flown 1,656 sorties, the officer said, and has experienced no combat aircraft losses due to hostile fire and only one loss due to mechanical failure. NNNN

File Identification:  01/28/91, PO-107; 01/28/91, AE-113; 01/28/91, AR-124; 01/28/91, EP-115; 01/28/91, EU-103; 01/28/91, NE-106; 01/29/91, NA-205
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Arabic
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  170124