NEARLY ONE QUARTER of the 44 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAMs) and Boeing AGM-86C conventional air-launched cruise missiles (CALCMs) launched at Iraqi targets during raids on 3 September failed to strike their intended targets, says the US Department of Defense.

Thirty-one Tomahawks and 13 AGM-86Cs were launched at targets in the southern Iraq no-fly zone during two phases of Operation Desert Strike. The TLAMs were fired from US Navy warships, and the CALCMs from two Boeing B-52H bombers.

Three of the TLAMs misfired and three others were not programmed in time to take part in the attack, but about half of them struck within 12m of intended targets. At least four of the 13 AGM-86Cs malfunctioned: three could not be launched and a fourth failed to ignite after launch.

Eleven of 15 targets were either destroyed or severely damaged, including five of eight surface-to-air missile sites attacked. Of the seven air-defence and command-and-control centres attacked, five were put out of commission, but two heavily fortified sites suffered minor or no damage.

William Perry, the US defence chief, says that the cruise missiles "-performed as we expected... within specifications".

More air strikes were expected as Iraq moved to rebuild its damaged air-defence systems and fired surface-to-air missiles at USAF Lockheed Martin F-16s patrolling the expanded no-fly zone.

Source: Flight International