U.S. Firm Against Increased Iraqi No-Fly Violations


  By Linda D. Kozaryn
 American Forces Press Service
13 January 1999 

 WASHINGTON -- U.S. and coalition pilots are operating in a 
 highly charged environment now that Saddam Hussein has stepped 
 up violations of the no-fly zones over Iraq, according to Navy 
 Capt. Mike Doubleday, a Pentagon spokesman.
 Since late December, he said, the Iraqis have aggressively 
 challenged the no-fly zones both on the ground with their 
 integrated air defense systems and in the air with periodic jet 
 incursions. The heightened threats play a major role in U.S. and 
 coalition responses, Doubleday said. He called those responses 
 provoked and appropriate.
 Jan. 13, for the third day in a row, U.S. fighters attacked 
 missile sites in the northern zone. Air Force F-15Es fired two 
 precision-guided missiles and claimed two direct hits on sites. 
 Air Force F-16CJs, accompanied by U.S. Marine Corps EA-6Bs, 
 fired missiles at sites near Mosul. 
 European Command officials said the pilots and crews acted in 
 self-defense after being targeted by Iraqi surface-to-air 
 missile systems. They said the Iraqis fired at least one missile 
 at the U.S. aircraft, which were not damaged and returned safely 
 to base.
 A day earlier, Jan. 12, an F-16CJ fired a high-speed anti-
 radiation missile at an Iraqi early warning radar at a missile 
 site in the northern zone. 
 The radar was "involved in the initial process of acquiring and 
 perhaps firing a missile," Doubleday said at a Pentagon briefing 
 later that day. More than 100 such radars are part of integrated 
 air defense systems located throughout Iraq, he said. He 
 compared these systems to a string of firecrackers. 
 "You only light one fuse," he said. "Within nanoseconds, the 
 whole bunch are going off.
 U.S. fighter jets also fired on Iraqi missile sites in the 
 northern zone Jan. 11 after being targeted by radar. 
 Similar confrontations have occurred since late December when 
 Saddam declared the no-fly zones invalid following Operation 
 Desert Fox, the coalition's four-day bombing campaign. 
 "It is clear from all the actions that have been reported for 
 the past several weeks that the Iraqi approach to the no-fly 
 zones has changed," he continued. Violations in the north and 
 south now seem regular. Five occurred in the south Jan. 12, 
 involving at least one Iraqi Mirage F-1 and MiG-21, -23 and -25 
 fighters. Two others occurred in the north and involved Iraqi F-
 1s and MiG-21s.
 Doubleday said the Iraqis' goal is to end constraints imposed on 
 them since Operation Desert Storm in 1991, including the no-fly 
 zones and U.N. economic sanctions and weapons inspections. 
 "These actions on the part of the international community are 
 designed to contain Iraq, to keep Iraq from threatening its own 
 population and its neighbors and from continuing to develop 
 weapons of mass destruction," he noted.
 U.S. determination to enforce the no-fly zones remains firm in 
 the face of Saddam's persistent challenges, he said. "We have 
 flown over 140,000 sorties in support of the no-fly zones since 
 they were first started," he said. "We're going to continue 
 doing that."