Adding 300 jets likely to require reserve call-up

Requested U.S. planes would put 1,000 craft in Yugoslav campaign

War In Yugoslavia


WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon plans to approve the deployment of 300 additional warplanes in the fight against Yugoslavia, deepening American involvement so significantly that President Clinton will almost certainly have to call up reserves for the first time, senior officials said yesterday.

The added planes, which were requested by NATO's supreme commander, Gen. Wesley K. Clark, would increase the number of American and NATO aircraft committed to the campaign to nearly 1,000. That is more than double the number -- 430 -- that the alliance had on hand when it began the strikes March 24.

Clark's request would increase the American contribution by 60 percent, from nearly 500 to 800.

With the expansion, the Air Force would need to rely on reservists to provide crews for the aircraft, particularly the aerial refuelers, a senior defense official said. Until now, the only reservists involved in the campaign are those who volunteered.

Clark made his request two days after the Pentagon announced that it had approved an earlier request for 82 more planes, including tankers and F-16s, which are designed to destroy air defenses.

The officials declined to provide a full breakdown of the numbers and types of aircraft in the general's latest request, but said they included both combat and support planes, including F-15s and A-10s designed to go after targets on the ground, and still more tankers. The United States has already committed about 10 percent of its fighter force to the effort.

The Pentagon needs to work out many details, such as where to base the planes.

Bases in Italy, from which most of the strikes are being carried out, are increasingly overcrowded. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is considering bases in other countries, including the Czech Republic, France, Germany and Hungary.

The planes requested last week are just starting to be moved overseas. If approved, the roughly 300 aircraft could be under Clark's command in a week.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.