NATO¹ has confirmed that British Apaches and French Tiger close air support attack helicopters have been used with success according to the pilots over Libya. This comes at a time where NATO has announced that it will extend its operations in Libya for an extra 90 days under Resolution 1973, enacted to the protect the civilian population of Libya.
British attack helicopters were launched from sea from HMS Ocean a 20,000 metric tonne helicopter-carrier which can hold up to 18 helicopters. France on the other hand deployed Tonnerre (L9014), an amphibious assault helicopter carrier which also weighs in at over 20,000 metric tonnes.
According to Major General Nick Pope:
“Hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon were used to destroy the targets. The helicopters then returned safely to HMS Ocean.”
The targets according to Major General Nick Pope were RADAR stations and checkpoints around Briga according to a BBC news source.
The general further stated that, “He said the targets had been “carefully and rigorously selected” and said intelligence about the positions of the Gaddafi forces had been improving “despite their efforts to conceal themselves”.
Instead of using bombs from jets which are larger than 500lb and cause massive destruction, hell-fires are more concise and precise in the fact that they will not effect as much an area in comparison to a 500lb bomb dropped from a fighter-jet. The US made hell-fire missiles are meant to penetrate tanks and is considered an anti-tank weapon. However the missile can be used on other targets usually lazed by forces on the ground. Which means that these targets which were targeted and which were attacked were under the eyes of NATO for weeks and likely considered too dangerous for a large bomb to be dropped on them.
The official name of the entire operation under NATO is Operation Unified Protector.