A U.S. Air Force jet carrying Soviet inspectors arrived here Tuesday as American officials prepared to begin the destruction of 41 cruise missiles as part of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

In addition to the Air Force ground-launched missiles, 41 protective canisters for the mobile weapons and seven transporter-erector launchers are to be cut in pieces with power saws or torches during an elimination inspection at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, said Air Force Lt. Col. Donald Black.The Soviets arrived at Davis-Monthan Tuesday morning after flying from Travis Air Force Base in California to witness the work, which Black said would be completed by late Wednesday or early Thursday.

The first missile to be destroyed was built in 1986 by McDonnell-Douglas Astronautics Co., tested at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and deployed at an installation in Italy before being shipped to Davis-Monthan in February, officials said.

Soviet inspectors have made two previous visits, in July and August.