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The Targets in Iraq

September 04, 1996

President Clinton ordered the initial airstrikes after Saddam Hussein reportedly ignored demands to cease an attack against Kurds in northern Iraq and withdraw his troops. Expanding a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq will further limit the reach of Hussein's army.


A total of 27 missiles were fired from aircraft and ships. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf launched 14 Tomahawk missiles against the sites in southern Iraq. Two B-52s flying from Guam launched 13 cruise missiles.



Seventeen more missiles were launched at the same targets from U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf after bomb damage assessments indicated all the targets had not been taken out in the initial raid.

The B-52s

B-52s had to fly 19 hours to reach the Persian Gulf because allies in the region did not participate. Once in the area, the two planes launched 13 cruise missiles.


* First flown: B-52A model in 1954.

* Total of all B-52s built: 744.

* Number still in service (all B-52Hs): 94.

* Range without refueling: 8,800 miles; capable of midair refueling.

* Unofficial nickname: BUFF, for Big Ugly Fat Fellow.

A Tomahawk Attack

From the Persian Gulf, two U.S. Navy ships launched 14 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the sites in southern Iraq. The Tomahawk, much like the 13 cruise missiles launched by the B-52s, are capable of delivering nuclear or convention warheads. They are able to fly complicated routes by comparing surface terrain with on-board computer maps that control altitude and direction along the route.

Tomahawk at a glance

* Length: 18 ft. 3 in.

* Diameter: 20.4 in.

* Wing span: 8 ft. 9 in.

* Cruise engine: 606 pounds thrust turbofan

* Range: 690 miles

* Cruising speed: 550 mph


1) The missile is launched vertically from a missile destroyer or a cruiser. After launch, tailfins and wings deploy.

2) A solid propellant powers the missile until a small turbofan engine takes over for the cruise portion of flight.

3) The missile descends to a very low altitude to avoid radar detection as it heads for land.

4) To determine correct positioning as it travels, the missile uses a sophisticated guidance system that constantly compares a stored map reference on board with the actual terrain.

5) When target coordinates are reached, missile hits straight on or rises to strike from above.

Sources: Pentagon, Modern Naval Combat, Associated Press, staff and wire reports

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