Shock has rippled through the Gulf, as JTF/HVY has been placed on High Alert since Saturday. Joint Task Force Heavy reported the heaviest losses in air-combat for Coalition Forces, since the kickoff of Operation Desert Storm in January-February 1991.
Once again for citizens of the UAE and Oman, the sight of flaming aircraft and SAM's streaking into the air from bases throughout the region was described as "horrifying".
It has been confirmed that the following aircraft were lost -
x4 AV-8B Harriers - VMA-290
x3 F/A-18C Hornets - (x2 VFC-119), (x1 VMFA-390)
x2 Ka-50 Black Shark - 48th Attack and Rescue
x1 F-14B Tomcat - VFC-119
x1 F-16C Viper - 472nd Squadron
x1 A-10C Warthog - 484th Squadron
It has also been said that several F-5E-3 Tiger II's and MiG-21 fighters were lost, though one may have escaped.
Rescue and recovery efforts are moving forward by U.S.M.C. ground units for those who went down or ejected over land, and U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawks for those who may have gone down at sea. It is unknown how many pilots are KIA/MIA.
In what U.S. Commanders are describing as a "clear and concise offensive" from enemy forces, they are stopping short of calling the destruction that occurred, war. However, the term "insurgency" seems to have fallen to the wayside, and U.S. officials have changed the nomenclature to "enemy combatants".
It is clear that the enemy forces are using older hardware, but are very skilled - as demonstrated in the devastating ambushes that occurred in the air this weekend. At the site of one F-5E-3 Tiger II crashes, it was noted that markings were purposely sanded in a hasty attempt to conceal the origins of the fighter jets.
With bad news seemingly stacked upon bad news, it has also been revealed that hostile forces are now located in the city of Fujairah - boasting some more advanced (captured) Surface to Air missile systems.
With the events that unfolded, it is clear that Joint Task Force Heavy must approach the threats in this region with extreme care and vigilance. Air Patrols will be running 24/7 until a strike can be planned.