Murphy's Law: October 10, 2002

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The coalition (U.S. air force and the British Royal Air Force) has been flying patrols over the Iraqi no-fly zones since 1991. These missions have been boring more than anything else. Lasting 3-6 hours, they were pretty boring until Iraq expelled UN arms inspectors in 1998. At that point the Iraqis began to fire anti-aircraft guns and missiles at our aircraft. None have been hit. To encourage his anti-aircraft forces, Saddam has offered substantial cash rewards (up to a million Saudi riyals) to the crew that brings down a coalition aircraft. The Iraqis have tried a number of tactics to entice coalition into a position where they can more effectively be shot at. This is made possible because coalition aircraft often drop smart bombs on Iraqi weapons that are firing. If the Iraqis can set up enough guns and missiles in the right position, it's theoretically possible for the bomber to get fired on by enough weapons to hit the aircraft. So far this has not happened, but there have been some close calls. On a few occasions the Iraqis have even flown one of their own fighters into the no-fly zones as bait, trying to entice a coalition aircraft into an ambush by ground based anti-aircraft weapons. This has, so far, also been unsuccessful. Some of the Iraqi aircraft have been shot down. The Iraqi use of force is a violation of the ceasefire agreement they signed in 1991, but the UN has not made a big thing about this so far.

 


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