Air Weapons: You Can Fly But You Can't Kill


January 24, 2012: Perhaps fittingly, December 2011 saw the fewest ground attacks by aircraft (133) in Afghanistan ever. Still, there were 1,675 such attacks in 2011, which was seven percent less than in each of the previous three years. Overall ground support sorties in Afghanistan grew from 20,359 in 2008 to 27,800 in 2009 and 33,600 per year for 2010 and 2011. In contrast, one of the peak years in Iraq (2008) saw 18,422 sorties, with 533 of them resulting in the use of weapons. Weapons released also varied. In Afghanistan in 2011 there were 4,896 bombs, missiles, or bursts of cannon fire. There were 5,101 in 2010, 4,163 in 2009, and 5,215 in 2008. In 2008 there were 1,075 weapons released by American warplanes in Iraq. In Afghanistan there were also 116,000 additional military sorties, about a third of them reconnaissance and most of the rest airlift. This did not count medical evacuation, which represented about six percent of those non-combat sorties.

In all, Afghanistan saw some 150,000 aircraft and helicopter sorties in support of combat operations last year. That was an increase of more than 50 percent from 2008. Most of the increase went to airlift, especially resupplying hundreds of small outposts in remote areas. These outposts made life very difficult for the Taliban and drug gangs, who had to be careful moving near these bases and devote thousands of gunmen to keep an eye on them.

Meanwhile, the Taliban use of human shields led to a reduction in the use of air attacks. At the same time, the Taliban were more frequently avoiding contact with foreign troops. This was often fatal for the Taliban gunmen, whether or not aircraft were involved.



Article Archive

Air Weapons: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close