Operation Deliberate Force was a sustained air campaign conducted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), in concert with the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) ground operations, to undermine the military capability of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), which had threatened and attacked UN-designated “safe areas” in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War with the Srebrenica and Markale massacres, precipitating the intervention. The shelling of the Sarajevo market place on 28 August 1995 by the VRS is considered to be the immediate instigating factor behind NATO’s decision to launch the operation.
The operation was carried out between 30 August and 20 September 1995, involving 400 aircraft and 5,000 personnel from 15 nations. Commanded by Admiral Leighton W. Smith Jr.,the campaign struck 338 Bosnian Serb targets, many of which were destroyed. Overall, 1,026 bombs were dropped during the operation, 708 of which were precision-guided.
On 30 August, the Secretary General of NATO announced the start of air strikes, supported by UNPROFOR rapid reaction force artillery attacks. Although planned and approved by the North Atlantic Council in July 1995, the operation was triggered in direct response to the second Markale massacre on 28 August 1995.
As many as 400 NATO aircraft participated in the air campaign.Overall, 3,515 sorties were flown and a total of 1,026 bombs were dropped on 338 Bosnian Serb targets located within 48 complexes. NATO aircraft struck 97% of their targets, and seriously damaged more than 80% of them.708 of the bombs dropped were precision-guided munitions. The aircraft involved in the campaign operated from Italian air bases, such as Aviano Air Base, and from the US aircraft carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS America, and French aircraft carriers Foch and Clemenceau (rotating) in the Adriatic Sea. The VRS integrated air defence network, comprising aircraft and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), presented a high-threat environment to NATO air operations.
The only Eagles involved in this campain were the F-15E’s from RAF Lakenheath while deployed to Aviano AB, Italy