"Wild Weasels" - modified attack planes from a line dating back to the Vietnam War - will lead the way in any U.S. aerial assault to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.

The F-4G planes, upgraded over the past 20 years, are designed to dart across the Persian Gulf front line and knock out Iraqi defenses as part of allied strategy to gain a quick and decisive aerial advantage."Our job is to knock out Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries and radar bases," Air Force Col. Merrill Karp, standing beside his grey jet emblazoned with the words "The Wildest Weasel," told reporters.

Karp, commander of the California-based 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, said the mission of the Wild Weasels would be to seek and destroy the radar systems and "a great number of surface-to-air Iraqi missiles massed near the Kuwaiti border."

The F-4Gs would be joined in the first wave by radar-seeking missiles and electronic warfare aircraft designed to jam Iraqi communications.

Karp had no doubt the Weasels' radar-seeking missiles would help clear the first Iraqi firepower barrier.

And "if the Iraqis come at us, we can shoot them in the lips" with the F-4G AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile.