|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Nov 06, 2016 08:58 PM EST|
(Photo : USAF) B-52 drops bombs on ISIS in Iraq.
The United States said its aircraft launched iron bombs, smart bombs or guided air-to-ground missiles at ISIS targets in and around the Iraqi city of Mosul at the rate of one every eight minutes during the first three days of the offensive that began Oct. 17.
That translates into some 180 bombs or missiles striking ISIS targets daily or close to 550 during the first three days of the ongoing offensive. That number has likely risen since then as the tempo of ground combat has greatly increased with the Iraqi Army now fighting inside Mosul.
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The air coalition attacking ISIS has conducted more than 191 strikes through Nov. 1, employing over 1,352 weapons, according to Air Forces Central Command. From the start of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014, the coalition has struck 1,239 targets in Mosul, dropping 5,941 bombs.
B-52 bombers, which can carry up to 31,500 kg of bombs, are being used to soften up ISIS targets during the air campaign. U.S. Navy attack aircraft such as Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets have been launching airstrikes daily.
U.S. airpower has been key to easing the rapid advance of the offensive in the first week by blasting ISIS fighting positions or destroying car bombs trying to impede the advance of the Iraqi Army and their allies. Calls for U.S. air support are a constant hourly feature of this intense campaign that might take up to six months to complete.
The U.S. Air Force said the massive number of airstrikes sets the operation apart from others in the ongoing campaign against ISIS. Mosul (al Mawsil) is the only Iraqi city still in the hands of ISIS.
"It's a pretty intense bombing campaign if you think about each of these bombs are precision-guided weapons ... so it's a really high rate to be concentrated over one city over a prolonged period of time," said Col. Daniel Manning, the deputy director of the Combined Air Operations Center.
"You tend to employ more weapons when the weather is better, and when you're partner forces are on the move because when they're on the move, they're finding the enemy, forcing the enemy to reveal themselves, and we're there to strike them," said Manning.
"We can certainly employ weapons in all weather -- we have sensors that can look through the weather -- but (a storm) usually slows down an operation of this size."
The B-52 Stratofortress has been invaluable in the air campaign with its ability to stay airborne for up to 10 hours. It also has sensors that can identify targets and can attack everything from vehicles to large targets.
"Frankly, we want our partners and the enemy to see the airpower (the B-52) has overhead," said Manning.
"A B-52 encourages our partner force that we have their back. Being seen is actually a pretty good thing."
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