Air War Iraq

Author: Tim Ripley

Details: Pen and Sword Books Ltd, ISBN 1 84415 069 0, 112pp, illus, sbk, £16.99

TIM RIPLEY will be a familiar name to many of our readers as he has written a number of articles for AFM over the past year shedding much-needed light on various subjects related to the war in Iraq. The author spent most of the lead-up to the war and the combat phases reporting from the Middle East, so is well qualified to write such a book. In doing so he provides a photo-journalistic perspective on the vital role that aviation played in toppling Saddam Hussein. The book’s ten chapters cover a decade of containment through to the occupation, as well as a summary of the US and UK aircraft losses during Iraqi operations in February-June 2003.

The author has illustrated his first-hand account of the war with his own images and those provided by official sources.

One picture of a 39 Sqn Canberra in Jordan, that had been supplied by the US DoD, particularly caught my eye, as I know how sensitive the RAF still is about this particular deployment. Throughout the book, the author has interspersed his text and photographs with separate panels containing interesting interviews with US and UK military personnel. A number of the interviews were with key RAF personnel included Wg Cdr Dave Roberston, Tornado navigator and CO of 617 Sqn; WG Cdr David Prowse CO 18 Sqn on board the HMS Ark Royal; Wg Cdr ‘Moose’ Poole Tornado pilot and II (AC) Sqn CO and Gp Capt Mike Harwood CO RAF Harrier Detachment Ahmed Al Jaber in Kuwait. One enjoyable comment which came from the latter was ‘Decision-making took place in the cockpit by the pilot. In a single-seat aircraft a pilot became a lawyer, accountant and media man. Tactical actions had a strategic affect’. Perhaps a tad over the top. but then that’s a Harrier pilot for you! This is an enjoyable read, although at £16.99 it is slightly overpriced. Alan Warnes

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