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U.S. Planes Have Flown 3,475 Sorties Since Libya Mission Was Handed Over To NATO

The Navy Times reports that American forces have been involved in operations over Libya to a far greater extent than the Obama Administration’s representations have led us to believe:

Air Force and Navy aircraft are still flying hundreds of strike missions over Libya despite the Obama administration’s claim that American forces are playing only a limited support role in the NATO operation.

An Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that since NATO’s Operation Unified Protector (OUP) took over from the American-led Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 31, the U.S. military has flown hundreds of strike sorties. Previously, Washington had claimed that it was mostly providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and tanker support to NATO forces operating over Libya.

“U.S. aircraft continue to fly support [ISR and refueling] missions, as well as strike sorties under NATO tasking,” AFRICOM spokeswoman Nicole Dalrymple said in an emailed statement. “As of today, and since 31 March, the U.S. has flown a total of 3,475 sorties in support of OUP. Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.”

A White House report on Libya sent to Congress on June 15 says that “American strikes are limited to the suppression of enemy air defense and occasional strikes by unmanned Predator UAVs against a specific set of targets.” The report also says the U.S. provides an “alert strike package.”

Dalrymple named the Air Force’s F-16CJ and Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft as the primary platforms that have been suppressing enemy air defenses.

However, those F-16s are not solely drawn from units based in Spangdahlem, Germany, or Aviano, Italy. The service has reportedly deployed U.S.-based units to Europe to conduct these operations.

Earlier this month, Malta Today reported that two F-16s from the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, made emergency landings on the island. The 20th Fighter Wing is based at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

But remember, we’re not “engaged in hostilities” over there.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    According to the DoD comptroller’s office the F-16CJ costs about $9,366 per hour to operate.

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  2. John Peabody says:

    We are way past the smell test… this thing REEKS. Hey White House: It’s a Duck! Glad to ponder incredible denial this along with the debt ceiling over the weekend.

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  3. I was rather suprised by:

    Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.

    That seems rather low to me. Can anyone comment if it’s normal for nearly 7 of 8 planes sent out to bomb something to return without really having done anything? That seems rather inefficient.

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  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Can anyone comment if it’s normal for nearly 7 of 8 planes sent out to bomb something to return without really having done anything? That seems rather inefficient.

    Yes, that struck me, too. I think I’ll drop a line to Galrahn to see if he can round somebody up who can comment knowledgeably.

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  5. michael reynolds says:

    They may have been sorties sent in to draw anti-aircraft radar and only responded if they were lit up.

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