The Cost Of Flying The F-15

f-15Recently, the pentagon decided to cut the 65th Aggressor Squadron, the United States Air Force F-15 unit that mimics enemy fighters like the Russian Su-27.  This squadron was used for training, playing the adversary role in dogfights.

The reason was the cost.  According to Time Magazine, the cost per flight-hour for some military jets is gigantic.  The F-15 costs roughly $41,921 per flight hour. (This includes fuel and maintenance costs.)

By comparison, the  F-16 costs $22,514.

Some European fighter jets like the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen have costs closer to that of the F-16.

The A-10 Warthog costs $17,716 per flight hour.  (It is also the subject of a budget battle at the Pentagon and may be cut to help fund the new F-35 Joint Strike fighter.)

Smaller drones like the Predator and Reaper drones cost $4000 or $5000 per flight-hour.

These costs do not include the costs of the bombs and ammunition.

Barrel Bombs

A barrel bomb is a type of improvised explosive device (IED) that is actually made from a barrel. Barrel bombs have been used extensively by the Syrian Air Force during the Syrian civil war.  The barrels are filled with high explosives and possibly shrapnel, oil or chemicals, and then dropped from a helicopter or airplane. The bombs are inaccurate, but highly explosive.

Due to the large amount of explosives that can be packed into a barrel, their poor accuracy and indiscriminate use in populated civilian areas (including refugee camps), the resulting explosions have been devastating. Though it is basically a cheap copy of a standard unguided military bomb, critics have characterized them as weapons of terror and illegal under international conventions.

The earliest known use was in South Sudan in the 1990s where they were rolled out of cargo-doors of transport planes.

U.N. Resolution 2139 of February 22, 2014, ordered all parties to the conflict in Syria to end the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs and other weapons in populated areas.

The UN resolution also strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and torture of civilians in Syria, as well as kidnappings, abductions, and forced disappearances, and demands that “all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders.”

When Syria failed to comply with that demand, the Security Council, in a July 14 follow-up resolution, authorized UN agencies and their implementing partners to deliver humanitarian assistance across the border even without government consent.

Pentagon: 334 Airstrikes Against ISIS

As of Friday the Pentagon said it had conducted 334 airstrikes against ISIS — 248 in Iraq and 86 airstrikes in Syria.

The U.S. has begun using Apache AH-64 attack helicopters to strike at ISIS targets inside Iraq, the first time the aircraft have been used for offensive strikes since arriving in Baghdad in early July.

Their use opens up a new capability in the airstrike campaign against ISIS in Iraq, but one that also comes with risks, as they could be vulnerable to ground fire.

A defense official confirms that Apache helicopters were used this weekend as part of four airstrikes on a large ISIS force northeast of Fallujah. The attack was conducted in coordination with Air Force fighter aircraft that supported the operation.

The official confirmed that the strikes were the first use of the Apache helicopters that were deployed to Iraq in early July.

The defense official said the strikes northeast of Fallujah were coordinated with Iraqi security forces to support their operations.

Several Apache helicopters were included in an additional deployment of several hundred U.S. military personnel sent to Baghdad to reinforce security at U.S. embassy facilities and access to the Baghdad Airport.

The deployment of the attack helicopters was intended to be defensive nature, but their offensive capabilities are now being used against ISIS. Any restrictions on their use for offensive purposes were presumably lifted in early September when President Obama announced that offensive air strikes could be used against ISIS targets.

Apache helicopters can be used to provide close air support for ground troops, but can also fire Hellfire missiles at enemy targets from several miles away.

The use of long-distance sensors and missiles lessens the potential exposure to small arms fire the helicopters could face in a ground combat situation. The aircraft are still vulnerable to small arms and missile fire, however, and during the war in Iraq several were shot down by enemy fire.

“It’s a capability we have, that they asked for, and that could contribute to their operations” the official said.
In recent weeks Iraqi security forces have struggled against ISIS forces that have attacked several cities in Anbar Province west of Baghdad. ISIS victories there could pose an even greater security threat to Iraq’s capital.

Iraq has used a limited number of Russian-made attack helicopters against ISIS and has long sought to acquire Apache helicopters.  In January the Pentagon announced the potential sale to Iraq of 24 of the aircraft for $4.8 billion, but so far Iraq has not indicated it will purchase the aircraft.

Airstrikes Over The Weekend

Canadian CF-18s

The United States carried out three airstrikes against ISIS militants in Syria on Saturday and Sunday using fighter jets, according to the U.S. Central Command. In a separate offensive, U.S. military forces used bombers, fighter jets and helicopters to conduct six airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, CENTCOM said.

The strikes in Syria destroyed an ISIS bulldozer, two ISIS tanks, another ISIS vehicle and six ISIS attack positions, CENTCOM said in a release. The strikes in Iraq hit two mortar teams, a large ISIS unit, two smaller ISIS groups, and destroyed a total of three ISIS Humvees. CENTCOM said all of the friendly aircraft used in the attacks “departed the strike areas safely.”

Friday, multiple armored personnel carriers which had been controlled by the terrorist group were destroyed. That was the same day that ISIS revealed it had beheaded United Kingdom citizen Alan Henning.

The airstrikes were conducted by the United States, using both manned aircrafts and drones, although CENTCOM said that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates lent support.

The anti-ISIS coalition has grown slightly larger in recent days. Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his country would launch airstrikes in Iraq and possibly Syria, depending on whether the Syrian government gave permission.

“We will strike ISIL where, and only where, Canada has the clear support of the government of that country. At present, that is only true in Iraq,” said Harper. “If it were to become the case in Syria, then we would participate in airstrikes in that country also.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott also announced that it would participate in airstrikes against ISIS on Friday. Like Harper, Abbott said Australia would only launch attacks in Iraq for now, leaving Syria untouched.

First Airstrike By British Jets


British jets have carried out their first strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq.

The British Ministry of Defence said the attacks were in support of Kurdish units in the north-west of the country.

They attacked a “heavy weapon position” and an armed pick-up truck.

The strikes – by two GR4 Tornados – came four days after Parliament approved military action, and were said to be “successful”.

Information from Kurdish sources suggests the RAF strikes had helped the Kurds retake an “important border crossing” at Rabia near Syria, said the BBC’s Clive Myrie in Irbil, northern Iraq.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said both Tornados had “returned safely to their base”, RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

He also said the “RAF jets assisted Kurdish troops under attack”  and said they were in action in support of the Iraqi government.

“On arriving overhead, the RAF patrol, using their Litening III targeting pod, identified an Isil heavy weapon position which was engaging Kurdish ground forces,” an MoD statement said.

“One Paveway IV guided bomb was used to attack the Isil position.”

“Following this engagement, the patrol identified an Isil armed pick-up truck in the same area and conducted an attack on the vehicle using a Brimstone missile.

“An initial assessment indicates that both precision strikes were successful.”

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain would not be “panicked” into dropping bombs in Iraq by reports that militants were advancing.

He said the RAF would carefully target IS, as hitting civilians would have the “opposite of the effect we are intending”.

TYT Video On Airstrikes In Syria

United States conducted airstrikes on targets throughout Syria.

The U.S. hit not only ISIS, but some other rebel groups you may or may not have heard about.

Targets controlled by the groups Jabhat Al-Nusra and Khorasan were hit. These groups are affiliated with Al Qaeda in Syria.

There is also disagreement on whether Congress has given authorization for the airstrikes.

TYT tries to take a look and break it down.

Reports Claim Moderate Group In Syria Signs Truce With ISIS. But Is That A Good Thing?

ISLAMIC STATEThis is the world of the the 3-way war in Syria – The war betweenn the “government,” the “moderates,” and the “extremists (ISIS).”

Moderate rebel groups in a Damascus suburb in Syria signed a “non-aggression” agreement with the Islamic State (ISIS), a Syrian monitoring group said.

Some of the brigades are part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front but have now agreed to a truce in Hajar al-Assad with ISIS in order to take down Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to the Agence-France Press.

The shifting alliances highlight the challenge faced by the Obama administration in its fight against ISIS in Syria: Even moderates supported by the U.S. can’t be relied on to help battle the terrorist group.

“The two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime,” the U.K-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. (Nussayri is the pejorative term used for Assad’s Alawite regime.)

The Huffington Post:

The prospect of a group once supported by the U.S. now sitting down with ISIS raises fundamental questions about U.S. strategy in Syria. Why support Syrians who have a very different, clearly stated goal and who will act as they see fit to achieve it?

Given reports that Assad avoided fighting ISIS in order to crush the moderate rebels — his calculus being that the West would eventually combat the extremists, as it is now doing — potential U.S. partners may decide that instead of being prey to both extremists and the government, they should settle one battle.

The problem in Syria seems to be that the moderate Sunni rebels want to align themselves with other Sunnis such as ISIS that are having success on the battlefield.

Washington Post Map Of Known U.S. Military Drone Bases In The Middle East and Africa

The sites are marked in red at these locations: 

Incirlik Air Base, Turkey


United Arab Emirates

Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti

Arba Minch, Ethiopia

Victoria, Seychelles

Niamey, Niger

According to the Washington Post, there are two sites in Niger and another in Chad.