Operation Allied Force: 20 years on

In March 1999 NATO launched Operation Allied Force to drive Serbian forces from the contested Yugoslav province of Kosovo. Tim Ripley looks back at the 78-day air campaign.

Air War Analysis

On a wintery March evening, six giant B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers could be heard starting their engines on the parking aprons at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. The ‘BUFFs’ taxied out and took off, heading south towards the English Channel. Their target was Serbia. Operation Allied Force was under way. Within weeks, approximately 1,000 NATO aircraft were involved in the air campaign to push Serbian troops and security forces out of Kosovo to allow more than 800,000 Albanian refugees to return to their homes. NATO air forces eventually flew around 38,000 sorties and in excess of 10,000 strike missions. It took nearly three months to make Serbia’s President Slobodan Milošević back down.

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