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Operation Northern Watch

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Title: Operation Northern Watch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Operation Provide Comfort, Mark Kirk, 52nd Fighter Wing, 22d Fighter Squadron, 110th Bomb Squadron
Collection: 1997 in Iraq, 1998 in Iraq, 1999 in Iraq, 2000 in Iraq, 2001 in Iraq, 2002 in Iraq, 2003 in Iraq, Aerial Bombing Operations and Battles, Conflicts in 1998, Conflicts in 1999, Conflicts in 2000, Conflicts in 2001, Conflicts in 2002, Conflicts in 2003, Iraq–turkey Relations, Iraq–united Kingdom Relations, Iraq–united States Relations, Military Operations Involving Australia, Military Operations Involving the United Kingdom, Military Operations Involving the United States, Modern History of Iraq, No-Fly Zone Operations
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Operation Northern Watch

Operation Northern Watch
Part of the Iraqi no-fly zones
Three British RAF Jaguars on a Northern Watch mission in September 2002.
Three British RAF Jaguars on a Northern Watch mission in September 2002.
Date 1 January 1997 – 17 March 2003
Location Northern Iraq
Result Invasion of Iraq
 United States
 United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
George W. Bush Saddam Hussein
Around 50 aircraft and 1,400 personnel at any one time[3] Various Iraqi air defense forces
Casualties and losses
One F-16 damaged

5–10 Killed, 30–40 wounded, 4

air defense systems destroyed

Operation Northern Watch (ONW), the successor to Operation Provide Comfort, was a Combined Task Force (CTF) charged with enforcing its own no-fly zone above the 36th parallel in Iraq. Its mission began on 1 January 1997.

The coalition partners of the United States, United Kingdom, and Turkey provided approximately 45 aircraft[4] and more than 1,400 personnel to support Operation Northern Watch. The joint U.S. forces of some 1,100 U.S. personnel, included airmen, sailors, soldiers, as well as aircraft from every arm of the United States Armed Forces.

The original mandate from the Turkish government allowed the operation to continue for six months. Turkey subsequently approved two 6-month extensions, but indicated that it would not become a permanent mission.

For the first year of the mission, northern Iraq was quiet, with no combat between Coalition aircraft and Iraqi forces.

Operation Northern Watch forces did not take part in Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. After Desert Fox, Iraq announced they would no longer recognize the no-fly zones and urged their troops to attack Coalition aircraft. On December 28, 1998 Iraq fired SA-3 surface to air missiles against coalition aircraft patrolling the northern no-fly zone. In response, U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-15Es, F-16Js, and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) EA-6Bs launched anti-radiation missiles and dropped precision guided munitions (PGMs) on the SA-3 ground-based missile site that fired on the ONW aircraft, and destroyed it.[5] From December 1998 to March 1999, U.S. aircraft over northern Iraq came under almost daily fire from Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites and anti-aircraft guns. U.S. aircraft responded by bombing Iraqi air-defense sites, using laser-guided bombs as well as AGM-88 HARM missiles and AGM-130 long range air-to-surface missiles.[6] The first combat use of the AGM-130 was conducted during ONW.

Coalition aircraft flew patrols on an average of 18 days per month, and were usually fired upon. The most common threat was from anti-aircraft guns. Despite [7]

Low level conflict continued up until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, although the number of response incidents declined dramatically after 1999. The final combat air patrol occurred on 17 March 2003 (from the Incirlik Air Base). Six weeks later the operation concluded with an official stand down on 1 May 2003.

A grand total of 36,000 sorties were flown during Operation Northern Watch, and 40,000 personnel had been deployed at some point during the operation.[7] Operation Northern Watch was the longest combat operation in the history of the European Command.[8]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ News Article: Patrolling Iraq's Northern Skies
  3. ^ Operation Northern Watch |
  4. ^
  5. ^ transcript from Nov 16, 1999 briefing of Brig Gen David A. Deptula, commander ONW 1998, 1999 at the aerospace power seminar series, Washington, D.C.
  6. ^ Operation Northern Watch
  7. ^ a b Operation Northern Watch
  8. ^ transcript from Nov 16, 1999 briefing of Brig Gen David A. Deptula, commander ONW 1998, 1999 at the aerospace power seminar series, Washington, D.C.

External links

  • Global Security brief on Operation Northern Watch

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