At Langley AFB, it was day two of our anti-terrorist exercise when we heard on the radio this report.
August 2, 1990: News Reports: At about 2 a.m. local time Saudi Arabia, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, Iraq’s tiny, oil-rich neighbor. Kuwait’s defense forces were rapidly overwhelmed, and those that were not destroyed retreated to Saudi Arabia. The emir of Kuwait, his family, and other government leaders fled to Saudi Arabia as well, and within hours Kuwait City had been captured and the Iraqis had established a provincial government. By annexing Kuwait, Iraq gained control of 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves and, for the first time, a substantial coastline on the Persian Gulf. The same day, the United Nations Security Council unanimously denounced the invasion and demanded Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait.
More Reports: 2 August 1990: Iraqi Invasion The Iraqi attack had been launched at 01:00hrs of 2 August 1990, with the T-72s and mechanized infantry of the al-Medinah al-Munawera Division rolling over the border south of Safwan and along the Highway 6 towards Kuwait City. There was no opposition: although informed, the royal family and Kuwaiti officials did nothing to warn their armed forces, instead being busy with preparations for a hasty departure. The Iraqis swiftly bypassed the base of the 6th Kuwaiti Mechanized Brigade, and rushed towards south, reaching the outskirts of Kuwait City already by 05:00hrs, few minutes before the dawn. Simultaneously, the al-Medinah al-Munawera Armored Division entered the Rumaylah oilfields and raced towards the south, bypassing the base of the Kuwaiti 35th Mechanized Brigade in the process. It was only around 05:00hrs that the first Kuwaiti Land Forces unit – roughly a battalion of Chieftain Tanks from the 35th Mechanized Brigade, led by Col. Salem al-Srour – has moved out of its base and towards Jahra, with intention of mounting delaying action. At dawn, both sides brought their air forces into action, and it was around this time – shortly after 05:00hrs – that the Kuwaiti air defense units were activated. Shortly before the first wave of IrAF fighter-bombers arrived, two KAF A-4KUs were scrambled from the Ahmed al-Jaber AB. They attacked the front column of the al-Medinah al-Munawera Armored Division, making two strafing passes each, causing little (if any) damage before escaping undamaged. Due to chaos and break down of its chain of command – but at least as much due to the fact that none of its Pakistani, Indian and Bengali officers and NCOs that managed the armament and technical support of the KAF units was available – the KAF was not yet able of mounting additional sorties before larger formations of Iraqi fighter-bombers and helicopters reached Kuwait City. This meant that none of KAF was caught literally with its “trousers down”. Nevertheless, there was an active MIM-23B I-HAWK site at Bubiyan Island, controlled by a US contractor, who ordered it into firing action after detecting the first formations of Iraqi aircraft and helicopters approaching. Despite the Kuwaitis, subsequently claiming their “SAM-sites” to have shot down up to 14 Iraqi aircraft and helicopters, only two HAWK-kills can be confirmed: a Su-22 and MiG-23BN were shot down while approaching over the northern Persian Gulf at dawn. These two planes belonged to formations that took off from Wahda AB (better known as as-Shoibiyah), and were underway to attack Kuwait IAP, along the route as-Shoibiyah – al-Faw – Kuwait IAP. The Su-22 belonged to the No.109 Squadron, and the MiG-23BN to the No.49 Squadron IrAF, and both fighters were flown by young 1st Lieutenants. Both planes were shot down around 05:00hrs and the Iraqis found no trace of them subsequently. In reaction to activity of the Kuwaiti MIM-23B I-HAWK site at Bubyan, one of Su-22s from the No.109 Squadron IrAF (based at as-Shoibiyah AB), fired a single Kh-25MP anti-radar missile, forcing the site to shut down its radar. Although the IrAF has had Kh-25s since several years, it never used them against Iran, and this was the first combat firing of this weapon ever. The results of this strike remain unknown. Later in the day, around 09:00hrs, when Iraqi special units arrived on Bubyan Island to capture the I-HAWK site, they found out that it was set on “automatic” mode of operation. The US contractor had fled, leaving startled Kuwaitis to give up: they have just raised their hands on the sight of the first Iraqi.