Kosovo: The cost of war

Dusan Miladinovic (mdusan@EUNET.YU)
Fri, 9 Apr 1999 06:10:24 +0200

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The war in Kosovo is burning a hole in
the Pentagon's pockets.
Every year, the Defense Department's
share of the federal budget reaches about
$270 billion. But very little of that money is
reserved for actual fighting.
That means that when the United States
goes to war - or just tries to degrade a
dictator's assets - the Pentagon has to ask for
more cash. And that is something it has done,
requesting another $51 million to convert missiles
armed with nuclear warheads into missiles with
standard high explosives.Nobody seems to know
exactly how much the U.S. share of NATO's
operation in Yugoslavia will be, but it's certain to
be high.The Center for Strategic and Budgetary
Assessments, a nonpartisan think tank,
released a report estimating that the campaign
- which entered its third week Wednesday -
has already cost as much as $500 million.
And it predicts that the operation could wind up
racking up a bill of between $2 billion and $4
billion if it continues for a few
weeks more.
Other experts at the Federation of American
Scientists estimate that the first 24 hours of
airstrikes against Yugoslavia cost more than
$100 million and that additional military action
will run from $10 million to $30 million a day.
Most of the tab comes from cruise missiles.
Crammed with sophisticated electronics and
requiring no pilots, they can be safely launched
hundreds of miles from their targets, but they cost
a bundle. The Navy's Tomahawk cruise missiles
are $1 million each, and the Air Force's more
powerful cruise missiles cost twice that.
Precision-guided bombs cost about $60,000
each, and even gas and operating costs are
adding up. To fly a B-2 bomber from its base
in Missouri to Kosovo and back hits taxpayers
up for $441,270.
The F-117 stealth fighter that went down cost
$45 million, but since Lockheed isn't building
them any more, the Pentagon isn't figuring that
amount into the operation's cost.
But with President Clinton insisting that NATO
will "persist until we prevail" in Kosovo, no
amount of clever accounting by the Defense
Department will stop the attacks from costing
hundreds of millions of dollars.

Here's what some of the more prominent
aircraft, bombs and missiles cost.

Cost of Military Force
E-3 Sentry: This aircraft provides surveillance,
command, control and communications needed by
commanders of U.S. and NATO air forces. Unlike
most radar systems, the E-3 can detect, identify
and track both enemy and friendly low-flying aircraft.
Cost per aircraft: $270 million.

F-117A: The F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter is the
world's first operational radar-avoiding aircraft. This
twin-engine aircraft can fly at high subsonic speeds
and carries weapons in an internal bay. Cost per
aircraft: $45 million. One has already been shot down.

F-16: The performance of this compact, multi-role
fighter aircraft exceeds all potential enemy aircraft,
especially in regards to maneuverability. It can drop
bombs and fire missiles accurately even in poor
visibility conditions. Cost per aircraft: $20 million.

F-15: This aircraft's maneuverability, acceleration,
range, weapons and avionics outmatch any current
enemy aircraft. It can penetrate enemy defenses and
engage in air-to-air combat with only one crew member.
Cost per aircraft: $43 million.

B-52: This bomber can fly at high speeds at altitudes up
to 50,000 feet and can launch cruise missiles armed with
high-explosive warheads. It's also effective for ocean
surveillance and can assist in anti-ship and mine-laying
operations. Cost per aircraft: $30 million. Seven have
been deployed for the campaign in Kosovo.

B-1 Bomber: This aircraft is capable of performing
long-range missions and flying long distances without
refueling. It can outperform present and future enemy
defenses. Cost per aicraft: $200 million. Five B-1
Bombers were deployed to Yugoslavia

B-2: The B-2 "Stealth Bomber" can drop both
conventional and nuclear bombs. Its stealthy design
allows it to penetrate an enemy's most sophisticated
defenses and destroy heavily defended targets.
Cost per aircraft: $1.3 billion, according to the
Air Force, although many experts put the cost at
about $2 billion. Two have been deployed.

Tomahawk Cruise Missiles: Relies on global
positioning satellites to guide them to targets up
to 900 miles away. Cost $1 million each.

AGM-65 Maverick: This air-to-surface guided
missileis designed to strike a wide-range of
targets, including armor, air defenses, ships,
transportation equipment and fuel storage
facilities. Unit cost: $17,000-$100,000.

AGM-86C: These air-launched cruise missiles
were developed to increase the effectiveness
of B-52 bombers. In combination, they deplete
an enemy's forces and complicate defense of
its territory. Unit cost: $1,160,000.

AGM-88: The air-to-surface missile is designed
to seek and destroy enemy radar-equipped air
defense systems. Unit cost: $200,000.

GBU-15: An unpowered glide weapon dropped
by F-15E and F-111F aircraft to destroy vital
enemy targets. Unit cost: $195,000 - $300,000.

AGM-130A: An air-to surface missile designed
for high- and low-altitude strikes at long ranges
against a variety of targets. Unit cost: Less than
$300,000 per missile.

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