With tribute to:

Martin Spirit

James Paul

Co-written by:

David Carter

Britain's Small Wars

The preservation of British Military History

Bosnia 2002

"A Frustrating Mission"

Operation Deny Flight

Deny Flight started on 12th April 1993 and continued until 20th December 1995, having been preceded by NATO's Operation Sky Flight, which had monitored no-fly zone breaches for the previous six months.

Deny Flight had three purposes; to monitor and enforce compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 816 banning flights by fixed wing and rotary aircraft over Bosnia, to provide air cover at the request of UNPROFOR, and to conduct air strikes against targets threatening UN safe havens.

Harrier being maintained, copyright NATO

Deny Flight was commanded by CINCSOUTH, Admiral Leighton W. Smith Jr, USN, headquartered in Naples Italy. Authority was delegated to COMAIRSOUTH (Commander, Allied Air Forces Southern Europe), Lieutenant General Michael E. Ryan, USAF, and operational control was delegated to 5th Allied Tactical Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Andrea Fornasiero, Italian Air Force, at Vicenza, Italy.

Aircraft and personnel from 12 NATO countries participated in Deny Flight. The United Kingdom contributed six F3 Tornados, twelve GR-7 Harriers, six Sea Harriers, two L-1011 tankers and two E-3D AWACS. The British combat aircraft were based at Gioia del Colle, with the tankers based at Palermo, Sicily and the AWACS at Aviano airbase.

Full details of the contributing countries are available at this website: The Canadian Connection.

Aircraft carriers also provided cover when they were in the area, the French Foch and US Navy carriers all provided air cover from the Adriatic.

All three British Aircraft carriers were involved in providing air cover for Operation Deny Flight. HMS Ark Royal was the first aircraft carrier to participate in the summer of 1993, when she was targeted in Piraeus harbour by the November 17 group who aimed RPGs at the ship on a timed firing mechanism, which failed to initiate due to bad weather. HMS Invincible took over in August 1993, followed by HMS Illustrious in March 1994. HMS Invincible returned in July 1994, followed by HMS Illustrious in March 1995 and the final tour was undertaken by HMS Invincible from July to November 1995. HMS Invincible suffered the loss of 3 personnel and 2 aircraft during it's three tours.

23,021 fighter sorties and 27,077 close air support sorties were flown over Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 983 days of Operation Deny Flight, in addition another 21,164 AEWs, tanker, SEAD, reconnaissance and support sorties were flown.

On the closure of Operation Deny Flight, all the forces involved were transferred to NATO's Operation Decisive Endeavor - as part of the overall NATO's Operation Joint Endeavor - to provide support to the Implementation Force and close air support for the UN RNCRO forces in Croatia.