homemade howto build bombs
WBGH-TV Boston. "Nova: Can Bombing Win A War?", January 19, 1993. Show #2002. Transcripts: Journal Graphics, Inc., 1535 Grant Street, Denver, CO 80203

Nova is made possible by grants from public television stations, the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and Lockheed. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission. For information about buying or renting a videocassette or film of any NOVA program contact Coronet Films & Video, 108 Wilmot Road, Deerfield, IL 60015 or call: 1-800-621-2131. p.12-13

Narrator: [voice-over] As soon as the flight crew goes off for debriefing, the ground crew readies two more smart bombs for another sortie. The Air Force hopes that the war in the Gulf will finally erase the lingering frustrations and doubts about bombing's effectiveness. This time all the signs are good. The enemy doesn't hide in the jungle, but sits in the desert. The United States is not bitterly divided over the need to fight. The end of the cold war has eliminated fears of World War III. The strategy of terrorizing civilians with bombing has been abandoned, keeping direct civilian casualties low and making the air war more political (sic) acceptable at home. And perhaps, most importantly, the planes and weapons being used are finally sophisticated enough to make precision bombing work.

Lt. Col. DEPTULA: Airpower technology has finally caught up with airpower theory. We've had theorists around since the days of Mitchell and Douhat that have described what we did, but they didn't have the tools and systems capable of achieving them. For example, in World War II, it took 9,000 bombs to get a significant amount of damage on a given target what it took 2,000 bombs to accomplish in Vietnam. We were able to do that today with one bomb and one aircraft.

Narrator: [voice-over] No plane symbolizes the Gulf war better than the F-117 Stealth. Although officially a fighter, it was used here as a light bomber. For 15 years, the existence of the plane was a closely guarded secret. It carries only two smart bombs, with a range of just 1,000 miles. But the F-117 does have something that no other plane has, a skin that absorbs and dissipates radar, making it almost impossible to detect. The Stealth could be sent out alone at night without any fighter escort to the most heavily defended areas of Iraq. The impact of the F-117 was out of all proportion to its numbers and the amount of time it spent in action. Although the planes flew only two percent of the war's total sorties, they bombed 30 percent of all strategic targets. Not a single Stealth was hit by enemy fire.

Lt. Gen. HORNER: I don't think there's any doubt that Stealth has revolutionized not only serial warfare, but all of warfare, and I'm sure at some point in time there'll be some way to counter, to some effect, Stealth technology. But I think that misses the point. All the existing conventional defenses now are built around radar technology, which is defeated by Stealth.

Narrator: [voice-over] In the last stages of the war, more than 200,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered. Over 30,000 lay dead. Total coalition casualties were less than 500. The ground offensive required only a few days. To many, it was airpower that deserved the credit.

Col. WARDEN: The answer is unequivocal, that bombing won this war, and it won this war not because it was in the desert, not because it was against Iraq, but because the technology had come together which allowed us to hit and knock out those things on which any enemy depends--the communications, the command and control, the electricity. It is not an anomalous win, it is a pattern for the future.

  • Media lies and the Gulf War