US Central Command officials in Iraq say that a US Air Force F-16 delivered two 500-pound bombs on an “identified, isolated safe house,” killing the al Qaeda brain in Iraq—Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—and one of his key lieutenants. The air strikes flown by two USAF Vipers took place July 7 at 6:15 p.m. Baghdad time. Officials said that tips and intelligence led them to target the safe house, located about five miles north of Baqubah. Zarqawi has been the mastermind for al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Iraq for years and was one of al Qaeda’s top three leaders worldwide. (Read the statement by President Bush and a report of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s notification to NATO.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.