April 18, 2021
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Combing down
How Iraqi Navy was targeted during Gulf War After 2 August 1990, once Iraq had overrun its hapless former ally, Iraqi naval patrol boats were able to slip out of Umm Qasr and down the coast between Kuwait and Bubiyan Island. Iraq quickly secured the naval bases at Al Ahmadi, south of Kuwait City, and Shuwaikh, capturing most of the Kuwaiti Navy intact. Kuwait had some twenty-three patrol boats and coastal vessels, the most significant of which were six German-built TNC-45s and two German FPB-57 missile patrol boats equipped with MM-40 Exocet missiles. Some of these were pressed into service to support the Iraqi attack on Khafji almost six months later, but the Iraqi Navy was little more than a bit player during Desert Storm. RAF Jaguar jets roaring over the Bubiyan Channel in early 1991 caught Saddam’s navy bloodied and fleeing the fight; with nowhere to hide the outcome was predictable. The Kuwaiti island of Bubiyan was the very raison d’être of the Iraqi fleet, but once in Saddam’s possession it heralded the Iraqi Navy’s death knell. Saddam’s naval forces had always been the poor cousin to his powerful army and air force. Geography had seen to this: Iraq is largely a landlocked nation, although it has a small outlet into the Gulf and part of its eastern border with Iran runs along the infamous Shatt-al-Arab Waterway. By the time the preliminary air campaign for Desert Storm opened in mid-January 1991, th
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