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No Let-up in Airpower



June 27, 2011
Combat and mobility airmen remained heavily engaged in supporting ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq from overhead throughout the first five months of 2011, based on statistics from the combined forces air component commander in Southwest Asia.

Close air support sorties in Afghanistan hit a monthly high back in February with 5,113. Yet that month also saw the fewest number of sorties with weapons dropped: 83. By comparison, there were 2,818 CAS sorties in May, including 140 with weapons released on targets.

Although CAS sorties in Iraq have been rising in the past several months, peaking at 524 in May, there's still been only one weapon released there in all of 2011.

With 31.5 million pounds of supplies delivered by airdrop through May in Afghanistan, mobility airmen are on a pace to break the record of 60.4 million pounds for all of last year. (See 2010 airpower statistics.)

Monthly airlift sorties in Southwest Asia have fluctuated so far this year between the mid 4,000s and slightly more than 5,000. Tankers sorties have ranged from nearly 1,200 to 1,800 per month. Intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance flights reached 3,363 in May, the monthly high mark so far in 2011, after hovering in the mid- to high 2,000s for the other four months. There were 698 personnel recovery sorties in May, a spike of nearly 100 over each of the previous two months.

Air activity was up across the board in May compared to April.