Air Weapons: A Pinpoint Success

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January 3, 2008: Israel managed to kill 40 terrorists in Gaza in December, all from the air, and in the process not causing any civilian casualties. This is the end result of a five year trend. Back in 2003, one civilian was killed or wounded for each terrorist casualty. That has come down every year, until for this year, only three percent of the casualties from these missile attacks were civilians. This was a combination of better training for the helicopter and F-16 pilots, extra attention paid to the preparation of the missiles or smart bombs to be used for the attacks, and better intelligence on exactly where the terrorists are.

The principal weapon for these attacks has been the Hellfire II missiles, which weighs 106 pounds, carries a 20 pound warhead (containing only a few pounds of explosives) and has a range of 8,000 meters. The missile is most commonly used by the AH-64 helicopter gunship (which can carry up to sixteen Hellfires at once), while larger weapons are fired from F-16 fighters. Over the years, Hellfires intended for anti-terrorist work have been gone over very carefully by the maintenance personnel. That's because the slightest deviation by the missile can cause lots of civilian casualties. Usually, the Hellfire is being used against a car, truck or SUV carrying the terrorists. The bad guys know the Israelis go out of their way to avoid hurting civilians, so the terrorists try to stay among civilians as much as possible. In other words, the terrorists use civilians as human shields. But the Israelis know what is going on, and have improved their spy network in Gaza, and use of high flying UAVs, so they can track the terrorist vehicles and nail them during those few moments when they are away from civilians.

 


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