Surface Forces: August 11, 2000

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TOMAHAWK TACTICS; The US Navy says that it used the Kosovo War as a laboratory to perfect tactics for the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile or TLAM. The US Navy fired 218 TLAMs at 66 targets during the Kosovo War, of which 181 hit their aim points. The British submarine HMS Splendid fired 20 TLAMs, of which 17 hit their targets. TLAMs were used to crack into air defense complexes and heavily defended targets, and to hit targets on days when bad weather kept manned aircraft out of Serbia. TLAMs were used sometimes to attack mobile targets. Utilizing high-speed data-links, recon aircraft spotted mobile units (usually anti-aircraft units) and passed the word to incoming cruise missiles, which then attacked those targets. A total of 26 TLAMs were used against 18 such targets, damaging or destroying 10 aircraft on the ground and 14 radar sets. TLAMs accounted for half of the mobile radars destroyed during the War. The Navy used sophisticated targeting concepts to focus the blast of the missiles. To cause vertical destruction, the missile needs to approach the target from a low and horizontal flight path. To cause horizontal destruction, the missile must dive into the target. A carefully designed attack on the Socialist Party building (which also housed the state-run television headquarters) opened up the building to fire and destroyed its fire-suppression system, leaving the huge building to burn for three days. This was the desired goal, as the continuing fire damaged civilian morale in Belgrade. --Stephen V Cole

 


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