National Security

Trump’s ‘Punishing’ Strike Used Tons Of Explosive Warheads

REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes/Handout via Reuters/Files

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s strike on Syria focused a massive amount of firepower on a single target, including as many as 60 missiles.

The strike targeted the al-Shayrat airfield, which is believed to be the origin of Tuesday’s chemical weapon attack on a town in northwestern Syria. Two U.S. destroyers based in the eastern Mediterranean sea, the USS Porter and Ross, were reportedly involved in the strike.

“I think this is the single fastest punishing strike I have ever seen,” said ABC’s Martha Raddatz Thursday.

The Porter and Ross are Arleigh Burke class missile destroyers, each capable of carrying 56 Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missiles. Each missile carries a 1,000-pound warhead, meaning approximately 60,000 pounds of ordnance was used to destroy the airfield. The missiles were reportedly timed to hit within a minute of one another.

Tomahawk cruise missiles are highly accurate and have a range of up to 1,000 miles away. They are particularly deadly due to their ability to fly under an enemy’s radar. Tomahawks also have the option of being mounted with a cluster warhead, which deploys multiple smaller munitions over a target. These warheads would be particularly useful against any Syrian aircraft located at the airbase.

The U.S. currently does not have an aircraft carrier located off the coast of Syria. The closest carrier, the USS H.W. Bush, is located in the Persian Gulf, according to The Washington Post.

Tomahawks may have been chosen not only because they were available, but also because of the low-risk associated with them. Syria currently has a modest air defense system comprised of old Russian S-200 surface-to-air missiles, however, their Russian allies in the area operate the more advanced S-300 and S-400. While the U.S. has the capability to jam most of these systems, a missile is the safer bet.

“We have the advantage, but it doesn’t mean it renders the Russian air defense irrelevant,” Chris Harmer, a former naval officer and current defense analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, told the Washington Post.

It is unclear whether or not the Trump administration will authorize further strikes.

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