COMBAT AIRCRAFT’S NEW REGULAR COLUMN
WHEN THE US Air Force launched its major air campaign against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on January 17, 1991, the flying branch didn’t expect to remain in a state of war for more than 26 years. USAF aircraft came under fire almost daily enforcing no fly zones over Iraq during the 1990s and went to war in the Balkans, Afghanistan and then Iraq again. In the current war on so-called Islamic State (IS) the USAF is expending between 100 and 200 precision-guided munitions per day. Combat deployments have not stopped. To make matters more stressful during that timeframe, the USAF’s number of combat-coded fighter squadrons shrank from 134 during ‘Desert Storm’ in 1991 to 55 in 2017, including the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve — a nearly 60 per cent decrease.