Comparative Air Power Inputs Kosovo vs. Iraq (1991)

April 13, 1999

Comment: #257

Discussion Thread:  #252

Pressure is building on the United States & NATO to send ground troops to the Balkans to conquer Kosovo and set up the conditions for a return of the Kosovar refugees. To date, the ever widening air campaign has been unable to stop or reverse Serb ethnic cleansing operations in Kosovo and, in fact, may have played into Serbian hands [see Comment #252] .

The attached table was assembled by a member of the Congressional staff and is now circulating widely on Capital Hill. It helps to put the current Kosovo bombing operation (code name "Allied Force") in perspective by comparing it with the input numbers of Allied Force to the campaign against Iraq in 1991 (Desert Storm).

Bear in mind, the much larger Desert Storm air campaign was conducted in better weather conditions against targets in the open, low-clutter, desert terrain, but it nevertheless did not preclude the requirement for a massive ground offensive into Kuwait.

Table: "Allied Force Numbers" Vs. "Desert Storm":


Comparisons of Air Operations Input Numbers of ALLIED FORCE Compared to DESERT STORM




Total sorties flown 5,924 118,661
Combat sorties flown 1,687 * 68,661
Days of operations 21 43
Daily avg (cmb sorties) 80 1,597
Aircraft deployed:    
  Total about 700 1,694
  Attack types about 550 1,386
  Attack helicopters to be 24 220

*General Clark stated that about 50% of all sorties are cancelled due to weather. It was not explained if this number of 1,687 should be halved, or if twice this number were attempted. 

Chuck Spinney

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