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CNN provides an analysis of the weapons used by the US, France and the UK in the air strikes on Syria.
A US defence official said the US Air Force used B-1B bombers in the Syria strike. CNN’s defence sources did not say where the B-1s flew from, but Air Force media earlier this month showed the bombers arriving at the Al Uldeid US air base in Qatar, on the Arabian peninsula. At least one US warship in the Red Sea participated in the Syrian airstrikes.
US defense officials did not specify what weapons were used during the airstrikes early Saturday on Syria. However, the Tomahawk cruise missile has been the military’s go-to weapon in past such operations, including the one the Trump administration launched a year ago in Syria, when 58 of the Tomahawks hit a Syria airfield after a previous use of chemical weapons by the Syria regime.
The Tomahawk is carried by the dozens by US and British warships, including cruisers, destroyers and submarines, and is capable of delivering a 1,000-pound warhead.
It is designed to fly extremely low and can navigate around defenses using its on-board guidance systems. Its target can also be changed mid-flight through communication with controllers.
The US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers carry dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles).
Britain contributed four Tornado fighter jets armed with Storm Shadow cruise missiles to the operation, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said. The jets took off from RAF Akrotiri, the Royal Air Force base on Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean and targeted a Syrian chemical weapons site in Homs, the British Ministry of Defence said.
The French defence minister, Florence Parly, said the jets flew from bases in France. Like the British Tornado, the twin-engine Rafale could be armed with Storm Shadow missiles that can fly for more than 250 miles. This means jets could strike without having to fly over Syria and avoid anti-aircraft defences.