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U.S. AIR FORCE ANNOUNCES EXISTENCE OF PREVIOUSLY CLASSIFIED WEAPON USED DURING DESERT STORM

U.S. AIR FORCE ANNOUNCES EXISTENCE OF PREVIOUSLY CLASSIFIED WEAPON
 USED DURING DESERT STORM
 WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The United States Air Force announced today the existence of a previously classified weapon which was used during Operation Desert Storm on the longest combat mission in aviation history.
 On the first night of Desert Storm one year ago, Strategic Air Command B-52 bombers flew a 35-hour, 14,000-mile mission from Barksdale AFB, La., and fired conventionally-armed air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) at targets in Iraq.
 Exemplifying the Air Force's Global Reach-Global Power capabilities, the B-52s from the 2nd Wing at Barksdale were able to strike targets directly from the United States, flying through international air space and avoiding the need for forward basing and allied governments' permission.
 The seven B-52s fired a total of 35 missiles at eight high- priority targets in Iraq, including power generation and transmission facilities and military communication sites. The missiles were fired from outside the reach of Iraqi air defenses. The airplanes were refueled in flight four times, landing back at Barksdale after more than 35 hours airborne. Each airplane carried augmented crews to safely deal with the length of the flights.
 Tomorrow at Barksdale, Lt. Gen. Martin J. Ryan Jr., 8th Air Force commander, will present medals to the men and women of the 2nd Wing to recognize their dedication and heroism for their participation in this historic air combat mission.
 The missiles used during this mission are modified versions of the nuclear ALCM. These weapons were previously classified. The modified missiles carry a conventional blast/fragmentation warhead in place of the nuclear warhead. A Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance capability replaced the nuclear missile's terrain contour- matching guidance system. The existing inertial navigation system remains in the conventional missile, designated AGM-86C. The nuclear version is designated AGM-86B.
 The original missile was built and the modifications were completed by Boeing Aerospace Co. The modification program was managed by Air Force Logistics Command's Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla. The modification program began in June 1986. Initial operational capability was in January 1988.
 These B-52s were the first airplanes launched in support of Desert Storm, although the missiles were not the first fired in the air campaign.
 "Coupled with long-range bombers and air refueling aircraft, the conventional air-launched cruise missiles provides the Air Force a highly responsive capability to launch very accurate conventional attacks against targets located nearly anywhere in the world, without the support of bases located outside the continental United States," said Peter Williams, chief spokesman for the secretary of defense.
 -0- 1/16/92
 /NOTES: -- To cover the ceremony at Barksdale (Jan. 17 at 3 p.m. CST) or to interview crews who participated in this mission, call the 2nd Wing public affairs office, 318-456-3065.
 -- As of Jan. 14, Military Airlift Command has flown more than 26,700 missions (including Civil Reserve Air Fleet commercial flights), carrying more than 1,016,700 passengers and 796,200 tons of cargo in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm since Aug. 7, 1991. Redeployment of equipment from Desert Storm will continue until April 1992./
 /CONTACT: Capt. George Sillia of the U.S. Air Force, 703-695-0640/ CO: U.S. Air Force ST: Virginia IN: ARO SU:


SB -- DC019 -- 0614 01/16/92 14:48 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 16, 1992
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