U.S. finds 30 hidden Iraqi war jets, some buried in the sand

Friday, August 1, 2003

The United States and its allies have found at least 30 Iraqi combat jets.

"Our guys have found 30-something brand new aircraft buried in the sand to deny us access to them," House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Porter Goss said. "These are aircraft we didn't know about."

Officials said the warplanes were buried or concealed in a range of locations around Iraq.

Among the combat jets found were Soviet-origin MiG-25 fighters and Su-25 ground-attack aircraft. The Su-25 is regarded as among the most advanced in Iraq's former air force, Middle East Newsline reported.

The regime of Saddam Hussein did not use its air force during the war against the United States in March and April.

Some of the Iraqi jets were found near air bases around Baghdad. The biggest find was in April, when Australian forces found more than 70 Iraqi fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft at Al Assad air field about 200 kilometers northwest of Baghdad.

Officials said most of the aircraft were found in poor shape and are no longer deemed as operable. They cited the damage from burial in the sand.

Iraq was said to have 300 combat aircraft, many of them in poor condition. The most advanced was the MiG-29 fighter-jet.

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