To what extent were smart bombs the most important factor in the way the Gulf war of 1991 was conducted?
Laser-guided bombs have been called the “invention that shaped the Gulf War.” (Correll, 2010). By the time of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, laser guided bombs were in widespread use. (Handwerk, 2005). In fact, 90% of the bombs hauled to Iraq’s borders were smart weapons. For some, the Gulf War is remembered as the war where smart weapons played a major role in the way the Gulf War was conducted. (Sample, 2003) For others, using smart bombs is meaningless because they result in minor victories with collosal death tolls (TV, 2012). There are both claims and counterclaims for these arguments. But lets investigate which statement is correct. Have smart Bombs been the most important factor in the way the Gulf War has been conducted? We must look more closely on the Gulf War, on how the smart bombs were used, and any limitations they have. Only after, will we be able to understand thoroughly if smart bombs were the most influential technology used in the Persian gulf war of 1991.
In the first Persian Gulf War of 1991, there was the invasion of the small nation of Kuwait by Iraq. Iraq was facing major debt issues due to the Iran-Iraq war, and wanted to invade Kuwait in order to steal their oil fields. After having invaded from August 2-4 1990, the Kuwait force was defeated and Kuwait was now part of Iraq. In response to this action, the UN and US President George Bush authorized the use of military force against Iraq to push Saddam Hussein back to Iraq (Yahoo Answers, 2010). When Saddam Hussein refused to agree, the operation “Desert Storm” was launched (Jan 18, 1991). Bush formed an international coalition of 32 nations including the United States, Middle Eastern countries of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria as well as Britain and France to oppose Iraqis forces (Office of the Historian). The coalition forces were much stronger and kicked Iraq forces out of Kuwait, which by then most Iraqi forces in Kuwait, which by then most Iraqi forces in Kuwait has fled or surrendered there was significant damage of infrastructure, property damage, as well as deaths. Iraq and the UN signed ceasefire in April of 1991 (Yahoo Answers, 2010).
The Gulf War was the first major conflict of modern military, armed with advanced technology such as smart bombs, which were reserved for special operation and difficult missions. By the time of the war, the use of laser guided weapons was already very widespread (Sample, 2003) (Handwerk, 2005). According to the “Gulf War Airpower Survey”, the desert storm “reconfirmed that smart bombs possessed a near (…) target-destruction capability, and a (…) revolutionary development in aerial warfare.” (Correll, 2010). In fact, the 2,000-pound laser-guided bomb crashed through the hardened concrete of the Amiriyah bomb shelter in Iraq, creating a large hole as well as killing 208 Iraqi civilians. The bombs targeted Amiriyah because they had picked up electronic signals, and sattelites could see a lot of vehicles and people moving in/out of the bunker. (Handwerk, 2005). Before dropping the most widely used smart bombs (Paveway IIs and IIIs), an infrared laser illumitnated the spot on the target. This laser could be wielded by troops on ground, by the plane carring the bombs or by other planes. When the bomb is released from the plane, an infrared sensor on the smart bomb depicts the laser spot and sends signals that are able to control the smart bombs and steer it into position, ready to hit the target. These bombs were invisible to radars and had an average accuracy of 10 feet (Sample, 2003) (Correll, 2010). It must not be forgotten that there are also a few limitations about these bombs as well.
Image showing laser guided bombs being dropped
Despite their success, smart bombs did not gain instant acceptance (Office of the Historian). The trouble is, that...
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