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Thursday, February 5, 1998 Published at 20:34 GMT

Special Report

Military facts and figures

A powerful arsenal has been assembled in the Gulf by the United States and Britain.

A number of other countries have also contributed armed forces. In 1991, the US-led coalition had 1,200 strike aircraft, 90 warships and six carriers in the region. The number today is considerably smaller. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have refused permission for planes to fly from their airfields. The Turkish Government has also refused to allow jets based in its country to take part in an attack on Iraq.

The size of the forces available to General Anthony Zinni is therefore complicated. However, the following list gives an indication of the firepower aimed at Saddam Hussein:

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  • There are two US aircraft carriers: USS George Washington and USS Independence.
  • 18 other ships including cruisers, destroyers, anti-mine vessels and the amphibious assault ship, USS Guam are now in Gulf waters. Submarines provide the underwater threat..
  • The UK has sent the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible, plus one frigate, one destroyer and two auxiliary vessels.
  • Invincible's sister ship, HMS Illustrious, is heading to the region.
  • A frigate, HMCS Toronto, has been offered by the Canadians.
  • The Dutch Government has ordered a destroyer, Abraham Van Der Hulst, to the Gulf, but they have not yet promised to be part of any military action.


  • Iraq's Navy was largely destroyed in the Gulf War and is unlikely to pose much of a threat. It is thought to comprise two frigates and a small number of patrol aircraft.

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  • The US has over 350 aircraft in the region, although some are not allowed to fly against Iraq.
  • At least 150 planes are carried on USS George Washington and USS Independence. These include F/A-18C Hornet fighter bombers, F-14 Tomcat fighters, EA-6B Prowler radar-jammers and E-2C Hawkeye airborne radar planes.
  • Long-range B-52 bombers are based in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
  • F-117 Stealth fighters, F-16 fighters and A-10 "tankbusters" based in Kuwait.
  • There are 14 British Harriers (Invincible carries seven Sea Harriers and seven GR7s).
  • Eight British Tornado GR1s are stationed in Kuwait.


  • The International Institute for Strategic Studies says Iraq has more than 310 fighter aircraft, but around half are in poor condition.
  • 130 ground attack aircraft and 180 air superiority fighters, mainly French, Russian and Chinese-built, including MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-25s, MiG-29s, and Sukhoi Su-17s, Su-20s and Su-25s and some Mirage planes
  • 6 Tupolev Tu-22 bombers

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  • Most of the US ships are carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles. B-52s also have cruise missile capability.


  • Iraq has been able to rebuild its air defence system that was crippled in the Gulf War. But while it still has highly capable mobile missile systems like the SAM-6, the flexibility of its overall air defence network is probably limited.
  • Iraq is still believed to have some modified Scud missiles equipped with chemical or biological warheads, with a range of up to 450 miles (700 km).

    Ground Forces
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  • The US has standing equipment stationed across the region
  • It has kept an armoured brigade in Kuwait for many years, which the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates would comprise 120-140 tanks.
  • Apache attack helicopters will support ground forces.


  • Iraq has about 2,700 tanks of varying age, type and combat readiness.
  • It also keeps 900 armoured fighting vehicles and 1,800 towed artillery units.

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  • The US already had a substantial troop presence in Kuwait.
  • US Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered reinforcements which takes the number of US ground troops there to approximately 9,700 to 10,000.
  • The UK and Australia have special forces troops in the region to rescue aircrews who crash behind enemy lines.


  • Iraq has 350,000 soldiers in its army, including hundreds of thousands of conscripts.
  • Six republican guard force divisions, four special republican guard brigades and two special force units.
  • Around 1,000 airforce staff

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