The use of amphetamines in U.S. Air Force tactical operations during Desert Shield and Storm

Aviat Space Environ Med. 1995 Mar;66(3):260-3.


Today's battleground requires round-the-clock air support. Modern aircraft systems enable tactical aircraft to be flown in all weather conditions, day or night, and for prolonged periods. U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command (TAC) aircrew who deployed to the Southwest Asia Area of Responsibility (SWA AOR) for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm were retrospectively surveyed to determine the extent and effectiveness of dextroamphetamine use in support of sustained flying operations. Surveys were sent in May 1991 to each tactical squadron that participated in Desert Storm. Of pilots who were surveyed, 65% used amphetamines during the deployment to the SWA AOR and/or during Operation Desert Storm. Pilots who used amphetamines in air operations described it as "occasional." The most frequent indications for amphetamine use were "aircrew fatigue" and "mission type." Of pilots who used amphetamines, 58-61% considered their use beneficial or essential to operations. Dextroamphetamine (5 mg every 4 h) was used effectively and without major side effects in tactical flying operations. Amphetamine use enhanced cockpit performance and flight safety by reducing the effect of fatigue during critical stages of flight.

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Dextroamphetamine / administration & dosage*
  • Dextroamphetamine / adverse effects
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Fatigue / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Iraq
  • Military Personnel*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Warfare*
  • Workload


  • Dextroamphetamine