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Tank plinking: Wikis

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Tank Plinking is a term that was given by pilots during the Gulf War to the practice of using guided munitions to destroy artillery, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and other targets .[1] As the war progressed, the term began to encompass all forms of destroying a target (such as a T-72 tank) with an overly capable weapon (such as an A-10 Thunderbolt II's GAU-8 Avenger cannon, at a cyclic rate of 3,900 rounds-per-minute)[2]. This term was discouraged by the military.


General Norman Schwarzkopf was looking for a plan to incapacitate 50% of the Iraqi army before any ground invasion could begin. Planning was performed including high intensity air strikes with General Dynamics F-111, A-6 Intruder, F-15E Strike Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and F-16 Falcon crews. This culminated in December 1990, with Operation Night Camel in which air crews of the F-111 evaluated the ability of aircraft to use guided munitions with the LANTIRN and Pave Tack target designation systems from medium altitude.

This is a deviation from standard military air engagement due to the prevalence of the surface to air missile; most aviators would prefer to engage a target from either a very high altitude, or a very low altitude, and certainly with low observability aircraft. However, the Iraqi defenses proved to be very inadequate. The winning combination for the eventual campaign was either a pair or quartet of F-111F aircraft loaded with four GBU-12 500-lb, laser-guided bombs. Bombs were designated for both entrenched, hard targets, as well as softer targets (eg APCs).


  1. ^ "Foreign Affairs - The New American Way of War - Max Boot". Retrieved 2008-05-06.  
  2. ^ TCTO 1A-10-1089, Flight manual TO 1A-10A-1 (20 February 2003, Change 8), page vi, 1-150A.

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