Headquarters, United States Central Command
January 23, 1999
Release Number: 9901-23


MACDILL AFB, FL --At approximately 1:15 a.m. EST, U.S. aircraft flying in support of Operation Southern Watch dropped laser-guided bombs at two Iraqi surface-to-air missile systems that posed a threat to coalition forces in the area.

Two F-14 Tomcats and two F/A-18 Hornets operating from USS Carl Vinson on patrol in the Arabian Gulf were conducting routine enforcement of the Southern no-fly zone when they responded to a threat that was initiated by two Iraqi MiG 21s flying south of the 33rd parallel in Iraq and ground fire from anti-aircraft artillery.

All coalition aircraft have returned safely. There was no reported damage to coalition aircraft during this incident, and battle damage assessment is ongoing.

Since Operation DESERT FOX, the Iraqi military has been increasing both the pace and severity of no-fly zone violations. Despite repeated warnings, Iraqi actions and intentions pose serious threats to our aircrews, and our actions today are an appropriate response to these threats.

U.S. and coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones over Iraq continuously assess the level of threat posed by the Iraqi forces and take actions that are necessary to reduce these threats and to defend themselves.