Tank plinking

Tank plinking is a term that was given by pilots during the Gulf War to the practice of using precision-guided munitions to destroy artillery, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and other targets.[1] As the war progressed, the term began to encompass all forms of destroying a target with an excessively capable weapon.[2] This term was discouraged by the military.[3]


General Norman Schwarzkopf was looking for a plan to incapacitate 50% of the Iraqi army before any ground invasion could begin. Planning was performed including high intensity air strikes with General Dynamics F-111, A-6 Intruder, F-15E Strike Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and F-16 Falcon crews. This culminated in December 1990, with Operation Night Camel in which air crews of the F-111 evaluated the ability of aircraft to use guided munitions with the LANTIRN and Pave Tack target designation systems from medium altitude.

This is a deviation from standard military air engagement. Due to the prevalence of surface-to-air missiles, most aviators would prefer to engage a target from either a very high altitude, or a very low altitude, and certainly with low observability aircraft. However, the Iraqi defenses proved very inadequate. The winning combination for the eventual campaign was either a pair or quartet of F-111F aircraft loaded with four GBU-12 500-lb, laser-guided bombs. Bombs were designated for entrenched, hard targets, and for softer targets (e.g. armoured personnel carriers).


  1. "Foreign Affairs - The New American Way of War - Max Boot". www.foreignaffairs.org. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  2. Flight manual TO 1A-10A-1 (20 February 2003, Change 8), page vi, 1-150A.
  3. "Air Force Magazine - Tank Plinking - Maj. Michael J. Bodner and Maj. William W. Bruner III - October 1993". www.airforcemag.com/. Retrieved 2013-06-04.

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