Base Prepares For Flight Ban Mission With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt
AVIANO, Italy (AP) _ With the start of NATO’s operation to enforce the U.N. ban on flights over Bosnia only hours away, U.S. military personnel worked Sunday at an Aviano air base to get crew and equipment ready.
Fighter jets from an array of nearly 60 U.S., Dutch and French aircraft were scheduled to start their patrols for violators early Monday afternoon (after 8 a.m. EDT). The operation is the first time NATO has conducted a military mission outside its members’ territory.
The exact flight schedule was being made out over the weekend, and spokesmen at the NATO base in Naples said Sunday they had no details.
The U.N. Security Council earlier this month decided to enforce the ban it ordered in October on flights over Bosnia. It hopes the air patrols, under NATO command, will pressure Bosnian Serbs to stop the war against Bosnia’s Muslim-led government.
NATO says its planes will fly up to violators and order them back. Shooting down violators is a last resort. Ground positions can only be attacked in self-defense.
About 300 U.S. personnel for the mission arrived last week at Aviano, in northeast Italy. Twelve F-15s from the 53rd Fighter Squadron of the 36th Fighter Wing were flown from Bitburg, Germany, to Aviano on Thursday.
In addition to the jets at Aviano, another dozen U.S. fighter craft, FA- 18s, will take off from the aircraft carrier Roosevelt in the Adriatic.
Twelve Dutch F-16s - eight fighters and four reconnaissance craft - are based at Villafranca, near Venice. At Cervia, near the beach resort of Rimini, are 10 French Mirage 2000-c fighters. Four French Mirage reconnaissance craft are at Istrana, northwest of Venice.