Airpower in the Gulf 10 Years Later

Jan. 1, 2001

The United States seems certain to maintain a sizable military presence in the Persian Gulf indefinitely. This is true even if the UN lifts economic sanctions against Iraq or Saddam Hussein falls from power, say USAF leaders and regional commanders.

Now under way in the region are efforts to construct a long-term security structure that would build even closer, more formal ties among US and friendly air forces.

Should it become necessary to reprise the war against Iraq, the US and its coalition partners would likely be able to achieve the same results in even less time than it took in 1991, despite sharp reduction in the size of US forces, officials reported.

It has been 10 years since the start of Operation Desert Storm on Jan. 17, 1991. The US force, at peak strength, comprised nearly 500,000 active, Guard, and Reserve troops.

Today, US Central Command deploys about 20,000 personnel in the Gulf-10,000 Navy sailors and Marines at sea, 6,000 Air Force airmen, and 4,000 Army soldiers. Their primary missions are to “contain” the military power of Iraq and neighboring Iran, keep the oil flowing freely, enforce UN­ordered sanctions against Iraq, and deter-or, if necessary, fight-a Major Theater War.

Implied, but not stated openly, is another mission-support the removal from power of Saddam Hussein.

Of these missions, the one with the highest profile, and which routinely puts US and coalition aircrews at risk, is maintaining a no-fly zone over southern Iraq below the 33rd parallel-dubbed Operation Southern Watch. This effort is intended to prevent Iraqi aircraft from threatening either Iraqi minorities or neighboring countries, as well as to block cargo airplanes from bringing contraband technologies applicable to Weapons of Mass Destruction into the country. A similar effort, Operation Northern Watch, is flown over northern Iraq but is overseen by US European Command.

A Steady Hand

Most nations in the area acknowledge the US military as a politically steadying factor among them. For its part, the US welcomes the opportunity to operate cooperatively in a region upon which it heavily depends for oil and where-by national strategy-it will dedicate half its fighting forces if another Desert Storm­size conflict breaks out.

“Until the sanctions are lifted, we’ll continue to do what we’re doing,” said Lt. Gen. Charles F. Wald, commander of 9th Air Force and Central Command Air Forces, or CENTAF.

Wald oversees Southern Watch. Should another Desert Storm­style conflict erupt in the Middle East, Wald would be the Joint Forces Air Component Commander for all US and, in all likelihood, coalition air assets committed to the fight.

What if the sanctions are lifted? “Our belief,” Wald replied, “is that we will stay engaged in the region … because of the importance we play in regional stability.” Even if Iraq were to see a change in leadership, or sharply downgrade its military capabilities, attention would shift to Iran as posing at least an equal danger, Wald said. Iran is viewed by its neighbors as having ambitions as the “regional hegemon,” he added.

There is a perception that the US is only grudgingly tolerated as a presence in the region by the Arab states. This is not true. The reality is that area governments-notably those of the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council-actively seek sustained US participation in their security arrangements.

Last October, the United Arab Emirates hosted an unprecedented meeting of air chiefs from the coalition nations engaged in enforcing the sanctions against Iraq. These included the GCC countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, as well as Britain, Egypt, France, Jordan, and the United States.

The symposium was aimed at improving long-term interoperability among the coalition air forces, developing a common vision of aerospace operations, setting up new combined schools for common doctrine and tactics, and finding ways to improve communication and joint network defenses against information warfare.

Gulf Airlift Organization

Coalition nations even discussed the possibility of a new intratheater airlift program in which they all might contribute aircraft or where they might commonly own cargo airplanes that would be used for joint missions. The arrangement would resemble the NATO arrangement wherein the alliance collectively owns its own E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, crewed by personnel from member nations and used for NATO missions.

Wald said the symposium, which the UAE organized with CENTAF’s help, went “better than I hoped,” and he reported being pleasantly surprised that the group agreed in principle to all of the dozen or so initiatives put forward by the US.

These initiatives included starting up a Mideast version of the NATO tactical leadership program, a combination of academics and flying training to hone common tactics and doctrine. The new program would be hosted by the UAE. Jordan volunteered to host a regional fighter weapons instructor course patterned on the USAF version.

The countries also agreed to work collectively on information network defense, to share more classified information on common threats, and to wire their networks together to perform distributed wargames and simulations.

It was telling, Wald said, that the group readily agreed to make the symposium an annual event. The UAE will host the symposium again next year; after that, members will take turns.

Gen. Michael E. Ryan, USAF Chief of Staff, turned aside suggestions that the conference aimed to lay the groundwork for a NATO­style alliance, claiming instead that it was a “reflection of the trust that both the [participating] nations and the air forces have for each other,” after a decade of operations.

Ryan added that the US was gratified the symposium went so smoothly. “We seldom operate in any area of the world unless we have coalition partners,” he said. The conference built on “some past successes, but also focuses us on the future,” he added.

There is clear evidence that the US is, in fact, wanted as a security partner in the Middle East, Wald asserted. He noted that an erroneous press report last spring-suggesting the US would withdraw 5,000 troops from Saudi Arabia-caused consternation in Riyadh and subsequent requests for clarification.

“The Saudis took that [report] very seriously,” he said, and “made a big issue” of it in meetings with US officials. The incident “probably for the first time showed that they really do want us to stay there,” he said.

Wald added, “My experience has shown that, first of all, they want us to engage, they want us to be there, they want to be able to see that we’re committed, long-term, they want us to have shared procedures, interoperability of equipment, they want to train more with us, and they’d like us to be in the region more often at my level.”

The Florida and South Carolina headquarters for CENTCOM and CENTAF/9th Air Force, respectively, are thousands of miles distant from their areas of responsibility. This is a problem, said Wald. He is on the road half of every month and has delegated great authority to Maj. Gen. Leroy Barnidge Jr., deputy CENTAF commander and 9th Air Force vice commander. Barnidge acts on Wald’s behalf to maintain a high-level leadership presence in the area.

Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, CENTCOM commander in chief, told Congress in June that he is “open” to moving CENTCOM’s headquarters from Tampa, Fla., to somewhere in the Gulf region. He said there are “obvious operational benefits” to such a move, and he believes that it’s worth the risk to headquarters personnel to be more effective in containing Iraq. Franks also said he believed the risk had declined since Operation Desert Fox in 1998.

Wald also noted that no one at the coalition air symposium even mentioned the issue of the Palestinian­Israeli conflict, which had broken out into violence just before the symposium took place. The terrorist attack on USS Cole a week before the symposium also had no effect on the proceedings.

Coherent Vision

The GCC nations have “a very, very clear-and I’d say coherent-vision of the future for themselves,” Wald observed. Each of the countries, he believes, wants to be responsible in its dealings with the rest of the world, and they recognize “they need to become interdependent on each other for regional stability.”

The Saudis, he said, want the US to “mentor” them. “They’ve used that word with me many times,” said Wald. “And every country I go to, I get the same story. … They want us to come there to teach them.”

The GCC countries in general and Saudi Arabia in particular see the US as a bridge to a more self-sufficient future, he said. “I see a clear recognition of the fact that they understand that technology is a major part of whether they’ll be secure in the future or not,” Wald continued. “For years … [the Saudis] purchased outstanding equipment, but they haven’t really trained to the same level that maybe the US has. They have come to the realization that they have to become more … self-sufficient, although they also know that’s going to take awhile.”

Wald noted that the term “Saudi­ization” has been coined by the government in Riyadh to label the process by which the nation weans itself from depending on third-country nationals doing the work of running the kingdom.

“They are not going to ask us to leave,” Wald summed up. Even terrorists “know we’re not leaving, they know the Saudis aren’t going to make us leave,” and make their attacks hoping instead for a “catastrophic incident” that causes the American people “to lose patience with this and … demand we come home. … That’s the only hope terrorists have.”

Under the UN Security Council resolutions, CENTAF and the coalition monitor and patrol Iraqi airspace below the 33rd parallel. Any flights of Iraqi military aircraft in that area are prohibited, and violating aircraft are subject to attack. UN signatories are enjoined from flying civilian aircraft in and out of Iraq if they are carrying anything other than humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.

In addition, Iraq is forbidden from taking any hostile action against coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone, though Iraq denies it is bound by the rule and routinely attempts to shoot down coalition fighters it says are intruding in its sovereign airspace.

Iraq’s 700 Shots

Since Operation Desert Fox in December 1998-in which the coalition struck Iraqi targets with bombs and cruise missiles for four days in response to Iraq’s refusal to comply with UN weapons inspectors-Iraq has shot anti-aircraft artillery or surface-to-air missiles at coalition fighters or committed other violations more than 700 times. In response, the coalition has struck elements of Iraq’s integrated air defense system, though not always the elements involved in the incident.

Brig. Gen. David A. Deptula, who from April 1998 to October 1999 commanded Northern Watch, said the rules of engagement governing coalition responses are highly classified. However, he explained that US forces have wide latitude to protect themselves.

“When they [Iraqi forces] act in an aggressive fashion, with the intent to kill or harm our people, the response needs to be one which reduces their capability to do that in the future,” Deptula said.

The response strikes are not “tit for tat,” or limited only to the offending missile or artillery batteries themselves, since such rules of engagement could be exploited by Iraq to set up what Wald termed “SAM­bushes.” Iraq, he noted, has many times attempted to lure coalition aircraft into an area where surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery are waiting, in an attempt to shoot them down. Everything possible has been done to make ONW and OSW unpredictable.

Brig. Gen. Allen G. Peck, who commands the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia, said that Southern Watch maintains a routine though “randomized” schedule of operations, varying day and night flying, the number of days in a row that flying continues, and other procedures to guarantee “there aren’t any patterns [Saddam Hussein] could use to anticipate … where we’ll be.”

Both OSW and ONW have an integrated air picture of the theater, Deptula said. During his tour, he set up a hotline between the two headquarters–Incirlik AB, Turkey, for ONW and Prince Sultan AB for OSW–to ensure that both had the same information and could coordinate their efforts as necessary. The two commanders also meet about every month or two to discuss procedures.

The Saudis perceive themselves as leaders of the Arab world, based on the kingdom’s wealth, size, and its status as home to Islam’s holiest cities, Mecca and Medina. Wald said the Saudis do not want to appear heavy-handed in dealing with other Arab nations, feel a genuine compassion for the suffering of the Iraqi people, and “would like to see Saddam go away.”

To avoid the appearance of being too heavy-handed, though, the Saudis have strict rules regarding how their territory may be used to enforce the no-fly zones. For example, at Prince Sultan AB, known as P-SAB, US forces may deploy air-to-air missiles such as AMRAAM and Sidewinder as well as HARM anti-radar missiles, since these are all considered defensive weapons.

However, the Saudis have rebuffed US requests to deploy the satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions at P-SAB, even though it would be used only in response to Iraqi threats to the aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone. When such missions are warranted, they are conducted by aircraft based in Kuwait, which imposes no such restrictions.

War reserve stocks of weapons, vehicles, and spare parts have been stored in Saudi Arabia, however, with the proviso that they only be used in an all-out crisis.

No Enthusiasm for Sanctions

In some parts of the Arab world and Europe, support for sanctions on Iraq appears to be waning quickly. Only Britain continues to patrol the no-fly zones with the United States.

The Iraqi sanctions issue heated to a boil last fall. Aircraft from France and Russia as well as airplanes from other Arab states flew into Baghdad in apparent defiance of UN sanctions. Representatives of those and other countries said that the economic embargo had gone on long enough and had only served to hurt the Iraqi people and not Saddam Hussein.

Wald said preventing civilian passenger aircraft from going in and out of Iraq was never part of the mission.

“What they’re claiming is, they’re flying in there and they’re breaking the sanctions,” said Wald. “They’re not.”

He explained, “We had allowed this to occur a couple of years ago, and Saddam quit allowing it to happen on his own. … We have no problem with legal aircraft flying in there, announced, under UN approval.”

The coalition doesn’t want civilian aircraft flying through the no-fly zones, though, Wald said, “because of the danger they would encounter, … not from us shooting at them, but from Saddam shooting at us.”

(Shortly after Wald uttered this comment, Iraq began flying regular passenger service between Baghdad and Mosul and Basra through the no-fly zones.)

Wald asserted that the “implication that Saddam is getting resupplied from the air is specious.” Ground borders between Iraq and Jordan, Syria, and Iran are “porous,” he said, and all sorts of things-including technologies to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction-are getting through by smuggling on the ground.

Saddam “plays the information [game] a lot better than we do,” Wald observed. While allowing his people to suffer famine and economic privation-and getting international sympathy as a result-Saddam has been spending his oil revenue on personal luxury and “doing his darndest to reconstitute his [Weapons of Mass Destruction],” Wald said.

“He continues to sell oil,” Wald noted. “Under the oil-for-food program … [Saddam is] allowed to sell $5.6 billion worth of oil every six months,” ostensibly to alleviate the plight of the Iraqi people.

He actually is probably selling, including smuggling, about $20 billion worth a year, a figure that is greater than Iraq’s pre­Gulf War oil income, Wald maintained.

Reconstituting Power

“He’s spending his money on trying to reconstitute his military,” Wald asserted. Among the spending projects are what Saddam calls “palaces.” Said Wald, “He’s built over 60 of them since the Gulf War ended. Some of those ‘palaces’ house probably secret development programs.”

There is plenty of money available to ensure that all of the Iraqi people get more than 2,200 calories a day, but Saddam is diverting the funds to try to re-establish his military, specifically WMD, according to Wald.

The no-fly zones were also originated “to keep Iraqi aircraft from bombing their own people. … So we’ve done that,” he added.

In Wald’s estimation, Iraq has not substantively added military equipment since the Gulf War, and its air force has atrophied from extremely limited flights and almost no combat training. By most accounts, Iraq’s integrated air defense system has been degraded by about 30 percent from its capability just after the Gulf War.

Nevertheless, in an unprecedented provocation since the no-fly zones were established, Iraq sent a MiG-25 up and briefly into Kuwaiti airspace in late September. As it happened, it was a “down day” for Operation Southern Watch.

“It didn’t do any harm,” Wald said. “[Saddam] was actually trying to get us to do something in response to that. … It was almost like a trap.”

Iraq’s main objective is to “knock an aircraft down,” Wald said. “That would be a giant success in their minds. … They know they’re pretty much neutered from an air perspective in the south.”

He added, “We have procedures in place now so that if he tries this again, it would probably be a bad thing for him to do.”

Iraq continues to field what Wald described as “a fairly strong ground army, from the standpoint of numbers, and some tanks.” The Iraqi air force, though, has not been upgraded in 10 years, and “he’s having a very difficult time doing replacement of any serious military equipment.”

Saddam has, however, replaced knocked-out communications infrastructure and is laying large quantities of fiber-optic cable. Wald said that “we’re aware of what he’s doing. … If and when we need to do something [to disrupt Iraqi communications] we have a way to do that.”

If the Gulf War had to be re-enacted with the forces now available, could USAF, which has reduced its size by about 40 percent since then, pull it off today

Superior Capability

“Comparing what we can do now to Desert Storm is really a kind of apples-to-oranges comparison,” Ryan said.

While USAF enjoys far superior precision capability today than it did in 1991-all F-16s, for example, are capable of dropping precision guided munitions, now, and the stealthy B-2 fleet has a proven track record with the satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition-the bigger question is what the scenario will allow, Ryan said.

“Can we get at more targets with precision now?” asked Ryan. “Absolutely.”

However, what the US has gained in precision it may have traded off in mass, Ryan said. Not only precision but also the ability to maintain “day/night operations, constant pressure” weighs into the formula, since the overall size of the force is much smaller.

“In some cases, technology doesn’t apply,” he said. “You can’t be in two places at once.”

Overall, though, Ryan said the new technology “allows us to achieve our end result faster.” Kosovo, he said, might not have taken 78 days “if we’d been turning on with all our technology early on.” Ryan said he thinks the force is “about the right size,” but he did allow that “quantity matters.”

Wald was even more upbeat. “I think we could do it with about half the sorties” flown during the Gulf War, he said.

“We just have a hell of a lot better capability right now,” he explained. The US possesses more-accurate precision guided weapons, and many of those weapons have greater standoff range, Wald said. USAF has more stealth platforms, with larger payloads. Moreover, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities are dramatically improved, most combat aircraft have capability for night vision systems, and “we’re much better now than during the Gulf War at doing nodal analysis,” which is the science of choosing targets whose loss will in turn affect many more of the enemy’s systems. Power grids and command-and-control facilities are two examples of key nodes.

From UN inspections and 10 years of watching Saddam, “we’ve got a lot better knowledge of Iraq,” Wald said.

“We would still need an MTW­type force; we’d still need a lot of aircraft,” to defeat Iraq, Wald summed up. However, with 1,500 sorties a day, “I feel confident we could do it.”

In the Wings, Iran

Wald said that, after Saddam is gone, the Iranian threat will likely make the US welcome in the Gulf for a long time to come. He believes that a division of Iraq would be in the interest of no one, and the other nations in the area would like to see “a reasonably strong Iraq that can counterbalance Iran.”

Asked how he’d feel about squaring off against Iran in an all-out fight, Wald said, “I hope we never have to do it.”

Iran has a larger and more cohesive population than Iraq, greater sophistication, and according to Wald, a “stronger … better trained” military.

Great distances separate bases in GCC countries and worthwhile targets in Iran. That fact alone would make it “a lot harder” to mount an effective air campaign against Iran, when compared with Iraq.

Also, Iran has not been the subject of constant surveillance for 10 years, as has been the case with Iraq. Iran’s military has not been degraded as Iraq’s has.

“The good news,” Wald added, is that CENTCOM was set up “with Iran in mind,” and the war plans used in Desert Storm had been rehearsed with Iran as a probable adversary. When the Gulf War was fought, “we did well,” he said.

He acknowledged the rise of Iranian moderates who have relaxed their anti­US rhetoric and noted that the GCC countries have been sending out feelers to Iran for better relationships. Wald would welcome joint exercises with Iran-for example, search and rescue and disaster response. “I think it’d be a good idea,” he said, but he cautioned that rebuilding a relationship with Iran would have to happen slowly. The situation in Iran, he said, is “delicate.” He added, “We’ve got to be careful and go slow.”

Wald sees the possibility of an Iranian­type Islamic revolution in Saudi Arabia as “very, very small” at this time. “They are more westernized in their thinking and their values than the Iranians probably ever will be,” he said. The Saudis want to avoid inflaming the few radical elements in their society- “There’s some, just like [in] every country,” he noted-and prefer the US to keep a low profile as a result.

Wald went on, “I don’t have any problem with that. I think the United States would feel the same way if we had Saudi Arabian forces flying near several major cities in the United States, defending America. We’d probably have a little sensitivity as well.”

Wald said turf battles between services that characterized the era just after the Gulf War are over. The Navy, Army, and Marine Corps accept that the Joint Forces Air Component Commander needs to be in control of everything involved in Southern Watch, Wald said.

“The NAVCENT [Naval Forces Central Command] commander understands that the JFACC is in charge of Southern Watch,” Wald said. When Navy or Marine aircraft take off from a carrier, they “chop” to the JFACC, “and that works just like a champ.”

Likewise, when the Army deploys with the Apache helicopter, the helicopters, too, will be under the control of the JFACC, as will the Army Tactical Missile System, which will also likely be part of the air tasking order, Wald said.

“Certainly it will be in the airspace coordination order, and like [in] Korea, I would suspect we will probably use ATACMS for some strategic targets. … I doubt very seriously we would have a big argument about whether or not we ought to use those weapons in the early phases of combat.”

Wald noted, “I don’t think [the concept of the] JFACC is as threatening as it used to be,” adding that there will also be a joint forces land component commander-to whom Marines will report in a war-and joint maritime component commander.

“That’s just joint doctrine. It works. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re being successful.”

The point, Wald said, is that “it’s pretty mature over there. We’re beyond some of the petty squabbling.”

Wald believes the advent of the Expeditionary Aerospace Force concept has made no difference in operational terms but has had a huge impact on the morale of troops, who have far longer notice of a deployment to the Middle East. The change has been, from a theater commander’s perspective, “transparent.”

Morale has also been boosted by the dramatic improvement of living conditions at P-SAB, now among the best in the Air Force. Though troops deployed to P-SAB don’t get much chance to leave the base during their 90-day deployments there, and they are not allowed to drink alcohol, “they are actually looking at that as maybe a nice time to get back in shape,” Wald asserted.

One benefit of the long-term mission in the Gulf is that the vast majority of USAF pilots now have combat experience.

“Just prior to the Gulf War, we were just about out of combat experience from Vietnam,” said Wald. “Well, now it’s unusual if you haven’t got some combat experience. That’s a real plus. It’s one of those intangibles that’s hard to … measure.”

USAF’s people in the Gulf are “real warriors,” said Wald. He explained, “The Air Force ethos is changing. There actually is a warrior spirit. They act like it, they look like it, they’re proud of it.”

CENTCOM and Iraq

US Central Command and its air arm, Central Air Forces, are the descendants of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, created by President Jimmy Carter on March 1, 1980, to handle problems in the Middle East.

The RDJTF was created primarily in response to two 1979 events-the Islamic revolution that deposed the shah in Iran and, late in the year, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. These two events convinced Washington the Gulf faced dangers requiring a stronger US military presence.

The RDJTF was a component of what was then called US Readiness Command, and its mission was to pick up and rush to the Gulf area in the event of a military crisis.

The first commander, Marine Lt. Gen. P.X. Kelley, was hampered by a lack of bases and pre-positioned equipment, as well as long distance from the theater. He also did not have any forces of his own; in a crisis, he would have to “borrow” them from other commands on short notice.

Reagan defense officials disdained the RDJTF as a weak creation of Carter. Reagan tried to fix RDJTF’s problems by recasting it as CENTCOM on Jan. 1, 1983.

Its area of responsibility was widened to include segments of Africa, and CENTCOM eventually got its own assigned component forces and a four-star commander, putting it on an even footing with European Command, Pacific Command, and Southern Command.

Over time, CENTCOM widened its role from force of intervention to a politico­military entity seeking to extend US influence in the region through engagement activities.

Its first major test was Operation Earnest Will, the reflagging and escort of Kuwaiti oil tankers, 1987­90, which involved numerous violent clashes with Iranian naval forces.

CENTCOM’s biggest challenge stemmed from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Under Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, its commander in chief, CENTCOM first organized the defense of Saudi Arabia and then launched the counterattack that ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait, Operation Desert Storm.

Shortly after the war, the coalition launched Operation Southern Watch to prevent Iraqi attacks on ethnic minorities and revolutionaries in the south. Joint Task Force Southwest Asia was created to run the operation. After several months, Iraq began challenging the no-fly zone, and skirmishes have continued since.

In October 1994, CENTCOM staged Operation Vigilant Warrior, a response to Iraq’s troop movements on the Kuwaiti border. In days, the coalition beefed up its Gulf presence to 28,000 troops and more than 300 aircraft, winning quick approval for basing from GCC countries. Iraq backed down.

The terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers housing complex in June 1996 prompted the US to move its Saudi­based forces inland to Prince Sultan AB, which also became the headquarters for Joint Task Force Southwest Asia. Originally a tent city, P-SAB has evolved into one of USAF’s best-equipped facilities.

Renewed Iraqi attacks on the Kurds in the north brought about Operation Desert Strike in 1996, a sea- and air-launched cruise missile strike followed up by the deployment of F-117 stealth fighters to the region.

In December 1998, CENTCOM, under Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, orchestrated Operation Desert Fox, which comprised four days of coalition airstrikes and missile attacks on Iraqi air defense and weapons development sites. The operation was intended to punish Iraq for its failure to comply with UN weapons inspections.

Zinni innovated what has been called “near-continuous presence” in the Gulf region. Under this philosophy, fewer units are deployed in the Gulf region at any given time in order to reduce stresses on the force.

However, ready forces on standby in the theater, backed up by frequent deployments of larger units, along with constant engagement and combined exercises are considered by CENTCOM to be an appropriate answer to intermittent Iraqi provocations.

Air Forces of the Persian Gulf

B a h r a i n

Fighter aircraft: 20: 8 F-5E/F, 12 F-16C/D.

Personnel: 1,500 air force, 8,500 army, and 1,000 navy.

Exercises with US: Initial Link large flying exercise with GCC, every April–May.

US support: WRM storage, 254 short tons.

K u w a i t

Fighter aircraft: 103: 16 S312 Tucano, 12 Hawk Mk 64, 21 A-4KU Skyhawk, 14 Mirage F1, 40 F/A-18C/D.

Personnel: 2,500 air force, 11,000 army, and 1,800 navy.

Exercises with US: Lucky Sentinel command exercise.

US support: Hosts Operation Southern Watch operations in four locations; weapon storage, 1,259 short tons.


Fighter aircraft: 43: 15 Jaguar, 12 BAC-167, 16 Hawk 102/203.

Personnel: 4,100 air force, 25,000 army, and 4,200 navy.

Exercises with US: Accurate test exercise of reinforcement by US assets.

US support: WRM storage, 6,381 short tons; weapon storage, 5,910 short tons.

Q a t a r

Fighter aircraft: 22: 5 Mirage F1, 6 Alpha Jet, 6 Hawk Mk 100, and 5 Mirage 2000.

Other noteworthy aircraft: 2 Boeing 707 transport, 1 Airbus 340 transport.

Personnel: 1,500 air force, 8,500 army, and 1,800 naval.

Exercises with US: Impelling Victory tactical exercise, every other year.

US support: WRM storage; 4,595 short tons of weapons storage.

Saudi Arabia

Fighter aircraft: 346: 80 F-5E Tiger II, 24 Tornado, 78 Tornado IDS, 92 F-15C/D, 72 F-15S.

Other noteworthy aircraft: 5 E-3A AWACS, 2 EC-135 Rivet Joint, 8 KE-3 tanker/transport, 7 KC-130H tanker/transport, 41 C-130E/H.

Personnel: 18,000 air force, 70,000 army, and 13,500 navy.

Exercises with US: Emerald Falcon air combat exercise.

US support: Hosts Operation Southern Watch operations, aircraft, personnel in two locations; weapon storage, 28,000 short tons.

United Arab Emirates

Fighter aircraft: 100: 8 Mirage RAD, 18 Hawk Mk 102, 19 Hawk Mk 63, 6 Hawk Mk 61, 22 Mirage 5, 27 Mirage 2000EAD. (Note: 30 Mirage 2000-9 and 80 F-16 Block 60 on order.)

Other noteworthy aircraft: 20 AH-64 Apache.

Personnel: 4,000 air force, 59,000 army, and 1,500 navy.

Exercises with US: Iron Falcon exercise set for spring 2001.

US support: Hosts tanker aircraft supporting Operation Southern Watch.

I r a n

Fighter aircraft: 254: 30 MiG-29, 60 F-14, 50 F-4D/E, 60 F-5E/F Tiger II, 30 Su-24, 24 F-7.

Other noteworthy aircraft: 3 Boeing 707 tanker/transport, 1 Boeing 747 tanker/ transport, 6 Boeing 747 freighter, 18 C-130E/H.

Personnel: 50,000 air force, 350,000 army, 20,600 navy, 125,000 Revolutionary Guard, and 40,000 paramilitary.

I r a q

Fighter aircraft: 310, including MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-29, Mirage F1EQ5, Su-7, Su-20, Su-25.

Other noteworthy aircraft: 2 Il-76 tanker, 6 bomber (H-6D and Tu-22 Blinder).

Noteworthy air defense equipment: SA-2/-3/-6/-7/-8/-9/-13/-14/-16, Roland, Aspide.

Personnel: 35,000 air force, 375,000 army, 2,000 navy, 17,000 air defense.

Note: WRM = War Reserve Materiel. Personnel numbers are for indigenous forces.

Source: US Air Force and International Institute for Strategic Studies.