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Airpower On the Rise

 

May 16, 2011—Close air support sorties have increased in Afghanistan by more than 400 percent from 6,495 in 2004 to 33,679 in 2010, according to statistics provided by the Air Force. In 2010, CAS sorties jumped by 5,864 compared to the precious year, following the trend of unabated rise over that seven-year span. During the same period, the number of weapons released in CAS sorties in Afghanistan spiked from 86 in 2004 to more than 5,000 last year. The 2010 total was roughly one thousand more than in 2009. There also has been a substantial increase in airdrops in the Afghan theater, climbing from 2 million pounds of supplies delivered via this means in 2005 to more than 60 million pounds in 2010. Airdrop poundage has roughly doubled each year since 2005, according to USAF's data.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, CAS sorties in 2010 continued the precipitous decline that began in 2009 as US-led combat operations winded down and the transition to stability operations took hold. There were 6,316 CAS sorties in 2010, with just eight weapons releases, compared to 8,061 sorties and 61 weapons drops the precious year. The number of air-released weapons during CAS peaked at 1,708 in Iraq in 2007.

Intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance activity in Southwest Asia continued an upward surge in 2010, with 28,747 sorties, nearly 10,000 more than in 2009 and nearly quadrupling the 7,400 in 2004. Airlift sorties in the combined theaters grew by 10,419 in 2010 compared to 2009, while tanker sorties remained steady. For airlift and aerial refueling sorties, the trend has been positive since 2004.