Aired November 27, 2002 - 12:22PM ET
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Despite the apparent lack of complications as U.N. weapons inspectors resume around Baghdad, the threat of war still looms. Some, in fact, would say that the threat of war is
the reason there were no complications. And that brings us to Keith Rosenkranz, a former top gun in the first Gulf War, who wrote a book called, "Vipers in the Storm." And he joins us now with his insights on air combat in Iraq. Thanks, Keith, very much for being with us.
KEITH ROSENKRANZ, FORMER F-16 PILOT: Thank you for having me, Martin.
SAVIDGE: We've talked about the war then, the possibility of war still to
come in the future. When it comes to an air campaign, how do you think they will differ?
ROSENKRANZ: The difference this time will be the type of bombing that will take place. It will start out with a massive air power campaign as before, but it will be more surgical in the sense that command and control, radar defenses, antiaircraft artillery sites, surface-to-air missile sites, and of course, the bases that Saddam would try to launch his aircraft out of.
The difference between 12 years ago and now would be that we would not want to bomb bridges, petroleum facilities, oil facilities, because the chances are we're going to be around for the next 10 years rebuilding those. So, it doesn't make sense to tear down and build the infrastructure all over again.
SAVIDGE: A lot has been made about changes in technology, advancements in weaponry. And give us an idea of how much, not so much specifically its change, but say numerically.
ROSENKRANZ: In the past 12 years, technology has increased tenfold for the United States and for the military. Iraq has not had that opportunity at all. Most of their weapons are older, Soviet style that had been given to them from in the past. American technology is 10 times better. The surgical precision of the weapons will allow the aircraft to fly at a higher altitude, stay above the NIR (ph) aircraft artillery, the
surface-to-air missiles, and then bomb with precision that will take out the sites that need to be taken out.
SAVIDGE: I imagine the number of sort of smart weaponry has increased as far as when you were flying and say the percentage.
ROSENKRANZ: It has. The F-16, for example, has a targeting pod, which we did not have during the Gulf War. That targeting pod allows the pilot to target specific, accurate targets, drop his bombs, and leave
without having any problems at all.
SAVIDGE: Anti-aircraft fire during the Gulf War, how severe was it, and how problematic could it be?
ROSENKRANZ: There were times where it was pretty heavy. I flew two trips to Baghdad, and it was very intense, and a few other trips in the middle of the night were as intense. The chances of being shot down increase the lower you fly. But with the precision-guided weapons that
we have now, we can fly at a higher altitude; therefore, stay above the NIR (ph) aircraft artillery. It's safer for the pilots.
SAVIDGE: You were involved in one of the many missions that took place on the "highway of death." Can you tell us about that?
ROSENKRANZ: I flew a few missions at the end of the war along the "highway of death," and it was a 30 square mile kill box, titled Alpha Gulf
6, that had the road from Kuwait City up to Basra. And generally, we would come in with what we had about 20 minutes of play time. I would target a northern steer point and a southern with two maverick missiles, and my wingmen would carry four canisters of what was called CVU 87.
And basically, I would target anything that moved along that highway with my ground-moving target track radar. I would lock it up. I'd have bearing
and distance to it. I'd start to ramp down at a lower altitude. I'd call up the Maverick video about 15 miles out, get the Maverick to lock onto the same target. And then inside of seven or eight miles, fire the missile. We'd make a 180 back to the south, and my wingmen would drop two canisters of CVU on the same highway, another pass, another Maverick and we'd head out. The next ship would come in for the next 20 minutes and do the same thing.
SAVIDGE: And it went on for quite some time. We talk about the lessons learned from the Gulf War, especially for the U.S. I imagine the Iraqis, though, learned a number of lessons as well, particularly when it comes to maybe defense against aircraft. Does that concern you for pilots?
ROSENKRANZ: I'm not concerned, and I don't think my friends that are over there flying are going to be as concerned. The Iraqis I think are
scared. They had a front row seat to the fight the last time, and I'm sure the soldiers out in the field are very fearful. There's a great psychological effect that takes place when bombs are dropping on you, and I don't think they've forgotten that.
SAVIDGE: Keith Rosenkranz, thank you very much for joining us. The name of his book, "Vipers in the Storm," what it was like to be an F-16 pilot during the Gulf War.
ROSENKRANZ: Thank you very much, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Thank you.