On January 16, 1990, Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched against targets in Iraq, announcing the beginning of UN efforts to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. A massive armada of naval, air force, and Allied aircraft followed up with attacks on targets in Iraq. The Gulf War was short, and ended on February 27, with the liberation of Kuwait. The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in a change in strategic priorities, with increased emphasis on regional rather than global threats and challenges. As a result, naval aviation experienced the largest drawdown in personnel and force levels since World War II.
On April 12, 1993, NATO officials in conjunction with the UN Began the enforcement of a "no-fly" zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina, known as Operation Deny Flight, in which naval aviation forces, operating in the Adriatic Sea, became actively involved. In August 1995, Theodore Roosevelt aircraft led the initial attacks on Bosnian Serb military targets in Bosnia during Operation Deliberate Force.
The opportunities for women in naval aviation increased dramatically in the 1990s. President William Clinton signed legislation lifting the ban on women serving on combat ships on November 30, 1993, to be followed several months later by the assignment of sixty-three women to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on March 7, 1994, making her the first combat ship to have women permanently assigned. On February 21, 1994, Lt. Shannon Workman became the first female combat pilot to pass successfully fleet carrier qualifications, while Lt. Kara Hultgreen made her first qualifying landing in an F-14A on board Constellation on July 31, 1994. And on March 2, 1995, Lt. Comdr. Wendy Lawrence became the first female naval aviator in space when she launched as a crew member and mission specialist on the space shuttle Endeavour. Eventually, assignment of women to combat squadrons became a routine event.