Libya reveals changes in NATO air power

"France is flying its EADS/Israel Aerospace Industries Harfang/Heron 1 systems"

From Craig Hoyle, Flightglobal:  While aircraft from multiple nations continue to strike pro-Gaddafi assets as his supporters continue to oppose the regime change brought about as part of the "Arab Spring" , the allies’ emphasis will increasingly turn to maintaining intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance duties while maintaining the ability to use lethal force when needed.

This shift has been evidenced by the large number of strike aircraft equipped with reconnaissance pods, including those from France, Sweden and the UK. And in a marked change, the French and Italian air forces also in late August began operating medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicles over Libya for the first time. . . .

Italy is using its newly introduced General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator Bs from Amendola air base, while France is flying its EADS/Israel Aerospace Industries Harfang/Heron 1 systems from Sigonella, Sicily (above). France has also brought other assets closer to the operational area, having moved its Dassault Mirage F1 reconnaissance and Thales Areos/Reco-NG reconnaissance pod-equipped Rafale strike aircraft there from Solenzara, Corsica.

For some nations, Unified Protector has been a voyage of discovery. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have learned lessons by deploying and operating their respective Mirage 2000-5s and Lockheed Martin F-16s as part of a major coalition campaign. Others, such as Denmark, have surprised their partners by their willingness to perform a large number of strikes using a detachment of just four F-16s deployed in Sigonella. By 31 August, its aircraft had dropped more than 800 weapons during the NATO campaign and the preceding US-led phase, Odyssey Dawn. . . .

Following a meeting between contributing nations, NATO on 30 August said: "There is no intention and no plan to put any ground troops in Libya. NATO will not be taking the lead role in a post-Gaddafi period. That is very clearly for the United Nations to do." But for some allied air forces, "mission accomplished" is unlikely to mean "mission over".  (photo: French Air Force)

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