Electronic Weapons: May 6, 2003


To prevent Iraqi air forces from detecting and shooting at the 300 Tomahawk cruise missiles the U.S. Navy launched on the opening night of the war, a unique distraction was used. The Navy took five Firebee target UAVs and set them loose over Baghdad. Three of the Firebees were launched from a C-130 modified for the task. Two other Firebees were launched from Kuwait. The one ton Firebees were themselves to dispense chaff (strips of tinfoil that cause radar to see a huge electronic "cloud" and nothing else.) The five Firebees, with an endurance of about an hour, criss crossed Baghdad until their fuel ran out, and then crashed. Iraqi air defenses were suitably shocked and awed and did not interfere with the cruise missiles that arrived soon after the Firebees went down. This was a bit of a swan song for the Firebees, which first entered service in the 1950s. The Firebee is due to be replaced by a more capable UAV next year. Some 6500 Firebees were built over the last fifty years.


Article Archive

Electronic Weapons: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 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