U.S. Drones Still At Libya, Can Help Find Benghazi Attackers

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Last year, U.S. Predator drones ruled the skies of Libya. The war has officially ended last October, but the drones have stayed put and continue to fly in Libyan airspace.

“Yes, we have been flying CAPs since the war ended,” says Army Lt. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. (CAPs is a military acronym for “combat air patrols,” a term of art that typically refers to several planes flying at once for a particular mission.) The drone flights were done for surveillance purposes and the new Libyan government had given their consent.

Last year, Predator drones were deployed in Libya for surveillance missions and mission attacks on Gadhafi loyalists. From April to October 2011, drones carried out 145 strikes on ex-regime targets, doubling the drone strikes launched in Pakistan for the whole year. Pakistan was thought of to be the epicenter of U.S. drone strikes.

With the attacks of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, the U.S. drones maybe called for more proactive missions. It can be called to assist in spotting the instigators of attacks last Tuesday.

President Obama had already stated that the U.S. will work with the Libyan government to bring justice to the killers of the attack. A team of about 50 marines is already being shipped to Libya in response to the attacks, but their mission remains unclear. However, U.S. predator drones will be on hand to assist the military in this intense situation.

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News source: www.wired.com

RAF launched Tornados against targets in Libya

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The Royal Air Force has once again deployed Tornado GR4s from its base in Britain against targets in Libya using Storm Shadow missiles. The RAF Tornado aircraft launched from RAF Marham in East Anglia to conduct 8-hour round-trip missions over Libya. Armed with state-of-the-art Storm Shadow missiles, the six GR4 aircraft flew long distance sorties from the Norfolk base to target elements of Colonel Qadhafi’s military command and control facilities and air defence infrastructure.

The Tornado GR4s jets, some from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and some from Marham, were playing a crucial role in protecting Libyan civilians as authorised under United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. The involvement of the Tornados, together with the Typhoon fighters forward located in Italy, means that the UK can strike both air and ground targets as required by NATO.

The Tornado Squadrons have played a leading role in the military operations in Libya since operations began in March, carrying out precision strikes, making use of the GR4’s high-tech Litening 3 targeting pods and a variety of highly precise guided munitions.

“This mission has, once again, proved the GR4’s capability at long range. The engineers and crews comprised of personnel from Marham and Lossiemouth. I feel great pride in having the opportunity to command such an adaptable and capable Tornado force that proves its agility time and time again, “ said Group Captain Pete ‘Rocky’ Rochelle.

Source: Royal Air Force

Tornado not ‘babysitting’ Eurofighter in Libya

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Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Rupert Joel told reporters at the Paris airshow that pairing the Tornado with the Eurofighter over Libya does not mean that the older jet is babysitting the younger.

While enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya since mid-March, the modern Eurofighter, which had not been used in real-life combat since its introduction in 2003, has generally been accompanied on missions by Tornado jets, which have been used in air-to-ground combat for some 20 years.

“It may seem strange to fly with the Tornados but it’s worked well,” UK Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Rupert Joel told reporters at the Paris airshow.

Asked whether it was not odd that the Typhoon — one of the most modern warplanes on the market today, with a list price of around $125 million — was being accompanied by the veteran Tornado, Joel said the pairing gave the British pilots an edge.

“The advantage of flying ‘mixed pair’ is that there are three different types of weapons available for use as well as the fact that Typhoon can use the benefits of the Tornado, whose pilots have huge experience of air-to-ground missions,” he said.
The British military has admitted that the Typhoon‘s air-to-ground missile attack capability was activated several years earlier than planned but said pilots were well-trained enough to conduct bombing raids.

“It’s true to say we had not done a huge amount of multi-role training before the Libyan conflict,” said Joel, who added the operation has gone well for the Typhoon team so far.

Some military analysts view the deployment of the Typhoon and the French Rafale in Libya as a move to give the two aircraft battlefield credentials in an effort to win orders.

Source: Reuters

US bombs remains of F-15 in Libya

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An F-15 fighter jet carrying two 1,000-pound missiles went down in a field near the eastern city of Benghazi on March 22.

US forces later bombed the remains of the crashed F-15 to destroy what they called sensitive technology.

A local man was injured in the US bombing of the F-15 crash site.

“Fortunately we got rid of it (the F-15 plane). Before that we were always worried by the plane crash but today after they blew it up we feel safe and everything is good,” Associated Press quoted a local resident as saying on Monday, April 25.

An international team of demolition experts has disposed of the scattered wreck.

The developments come as NATO airstrikes have destroyed Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s office in the capital, Tripoli. Reports say at least 45 people were wounded in the attack — 15 of them seriously.

Dozens of civilians have also been killed in Libya since the Western military alliance launched their attacks on the North African country.

The US Department of Defense has recently confirmed that it is using Predator missile strikes on Libya amid rising controversy over such attacks in other parts of the world.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday that President Barack Obama had approved the use of armed Predator drones to improve the precision of strikes in Libya.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the western city of Misratah with the population of over one million has been reported as alarming with many people in dire need of food, water and medical supplies.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for an immediate ceasefire in crisis-hit Libya, urging that the resolutions made by the UN Security Council should be implemented.

An image from derived from PressTV's video

See video posted by PressTV.

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F-22s not in Libya due to limitations

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One aircraft whose absence is noticeable over the skies of Libya is the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor air dominance fighter. Analysts said the Raptor was likely excluded due to its inability to communicate with other coalition aircraft and its limited ability to hit ground targets.

“The designers of the F-22 had a dilemma, which is whether to have the connectivity that would allow versatility or to have the radio silence that would facilitate stealthiness. What they opted for was a limited set of tactical data links,” said Loren Thompson, an analyst and chief operating office at the Lexington Institute, Arlington Va.

On of the F-22’s limitation is it can only connect with other F-22s via an intra-flight data link, and can only receive, but not transmit, over the standard Link-16 data link found on most allied aircraft. Radio emissions from various data links could potentially give away the aircraft’s position. For that reason, while the Raptor is the stealthiest operational aircraft in the world, it lacks much of the connectivity found on other warplanes.

The aircraft also lacks a significant air-to-surface punch.

The F-22 aircraft can only use two 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which are GPS-guided bombs, against fixed targets. It does not yet have the ability to carry the 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) or to create synthetic aperture radar maps, which are black and white photo-quality images of the Earth’s surface, needed to select its own ground targets.

Under the Air Force’s global strike task force doctrine, the Raptor would normally escort B-2 Spirit stealth bombers. However, U.S. Africa Command, which is running Operation Odyssey Dawn, confirmed the F-22 has not flown over Libya.

“I see no indication that F-22s were used as an escort for the B-2 nor do I see anything that indicates the Raptor will be used in future missions over Libya,” said Air Force Maj. Eric Hilliard, a spokesman for Africa Command.

On March 20, three B-2 Spirits flew bombing runs out of their base at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB), Mo., against targets in Libya.

Analysts agreed that the reason for the absence of the Raptor is that it was not needed to defeat Libya’s relatively pedestrian air defenses. The Libyans have a largely obsolete fleet of aircraft and only older model Soviet surface-to-air weaponry.

“Libya is not generally considered a highly capable adversary,” Thompson added.

Source: AirForceTimes, photo via Google Images

F/A-18 Hornets launch first mission in Libya

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A Spanish F/A-18 from Aviano AB, Italy

Two Spanish Hornets flew the country’s first mission in Libya along with a 707 tanker on Monday.

The Defense Ministry confirmed that Spanish F/A-18s joined the military operation in Libya on Monday. Two F-18 fighters and a Boeing-707 refueling aircraft took off at midday from Decimomannu airbase in southern Italy.

The official announcement from the minister of defense states that these aircraft will perform the first air-patrol mission as part of the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.

Spain has deployed four F-18s and the refueling plane to assist in enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya which was approved Thursday, authorizing the use of force to protect the civilian population from attacks by troops loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

The Spanish F/A-18 Hornets will operate under the command of the international coalition, currently led by U.S. Gen. Carter Ham.

The F/A-18 has proven to be an ideal component of the carrier based tactical aviation equation over its 15 years of operational experience. The only F/A-18 characteristic found to be marginally adequate by battle group commanders, outside experts, and even the men who fly the Hornet, is its range when flown on certain strike mission profiles.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will appear Tuesday before the lower house of Parliament to request authorization for Spain’s armed forces to take part in the Libyan mission. The requirement for the operation to get the green light from Parliament is stated in Spain’s National Defense Law, which nonetheless says that for reasons of urgency, the operation could begin without formal approval.

Source: Original Article from Fox News Latino
Aircraft Information from FAS,
photo via Google images

Growlers,Harriers supported Libya operations

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In support of Operation Odyssey Dawn, the U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers from coalition bases and the U.S. Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harriers was launched last March 20 aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)  to enforce citizens from further harm.

According to the report, the Growlers provide electronic warfare support over Libya while Harriers from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conduct strikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s ground forces and air defenses, joining an international effort to halt an offensive against the Libyan populace.

“Protecting the innocent and conducting combined operations are what we are designed to do,” said Col. Mark J. Desens, commanding officer of 26th MEU.

The EA-18G Growlers has the capability to operate autonomously or as a major node in a network-centric operation and will provide accurate emitter targeting for employment of onboard suppression weapons such as the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).

On the other hand, the AV-8B Harrier was designed primarily to improve upon the performance and handling qualities of the AV-8A/C. It was a new design, with composite structures, a bigger wing, higher engine thrust and reliability, and state-of-the-art avionics.

“Our forces are doing both as part of the U.S. commitment to protect Libyan citizens,” added Col. Desens.

- navy.mil
- global security.org
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Original Article: Navy, Marine Corps Aircraft Strike Libya

Denmark willing to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya

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Foreign Minister Lene Espersen told parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that the Air Force is preparing four F-16 fighter jets to take part in an internationally-backed no-fly zone over Libya,should Nato high command decide to act.

The government is trying to build support in parliament and internationally for a United Nations-backed no-fly zone over Libya to block Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from making further advances against rebel forces and attacking Libyan civilians.

“The Arab world has made it very clear that the UN Security Council must make the decision. That’s why we all need to work right now to ensure that the UNSecurity Council has the backing it needs to make that decision,” Espersen said.

She added that a UN-backed no-fly zone was “a very important and correct step,” towards showing Qaddafi that the international community does not accept his attacks against civilians.

The UN Security Council was scheduled to meet again on Wednesday morning to discuss the feasibility of a no-fly zone.

The F-16 has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations.

In an air combat role, the F-16′s maneuverability and combat radius (distance it can fly to enter air combat, stay, fight and return) exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft. It can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles (860 kilometers), deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point. An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions

- the Copenhagen post Online
- GlobalSecurity.org

RAF C-130 hit by small arms fire in Libya

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Disaster was narrowly averted when small arms fire entered the cockpit of a RAF C130 Hercules evacuating Britons and foreign nationals from Libya, it has emerged.

One round bounced off the pilot’s helmet but he was unscathed during Sunday’s rescue of oil workers. Earlier, 50 Britons and 150 foreign nationals arrived in Malta on HMS Cumberland as evacuation efforts go on. David Cameron said the UK is working to establish a no-fly zone over Libya.

The prime minister has also urged Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to “go now”, adding that the north African country had no future “that includes him”.

The BBC’s Frank Gardner confirmed details of the narrow escape during the evacuation of oil workers – 20 of whom were British – from the desert.

He said an insurgent group on the ground which fired at the C-130 plane had mistaken it for a Gaddafi regime plane. They have since apologized for the incident.

Some of those rescued described the moment the Hercules was shot at, forcing it to abandon a landing.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that one of its C130 aircraft appeared to have suffered “minor damage consistent with small arms fire”, adding that “there were no injuries to passengers or crew and the aircraft returned safely to Malta”.

On Saturday, another 150 oil workers, many of them British nationals, were rescued from the desert by two RAF Hercules and flown to the safety of Malta.

- BBC News

Libya requests its Mirage F1s back

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Libya has formally approached Malta to return two Mirage F1 fighters that defected there recently.

The Libyan government has formally requested the return of two Mirage F1 fighter jets flown to Malta by defecting pilots on Monday.

The aircraft are under armed guard at the airport. The pilots have requested political asylum and their case is being considered. The pilots claimed they flew to Malta after being ordered to bomb fellow Libyans in Benghazi.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said there has been no contact with the Libyan government on the fighter aircraft.

The F-1 was designed to replace the Mirage III, and remained the standard French fighter before the Mirage 2000 entered service. Although it has a smaller wingspan than the Mirage III, the F1 nevertheless proved to be clearly superior to its predecessor. It can carry up to 40% more fuel, has a shorter take-off run, a superior range in lo-lo missions, and better maneuverability.

Dassault designed the Mirage F1 as the successor to its Mirage III and Mirage 5 fighters. Unlike its predecessors, it has a swept wing mounted high on the fuselage, as well as a conventional tail surface.

Meanwhile, Malta International Airport remains a hive of activity, with many countries using it as a transit point for the evacuation of their nationals.Informed sources said that 41 flights have been operated to Malta from Tripoli since Monday, while Air Malta has operated 10 flights from the Libyan capital, including two today. All Maltese who were at Tripoli airport were picked up.

- Times of Malta
- Global aircraft