NATO attack helos conduct raiding campaign over Libya

UK and French attack helicopters (AHs) have been conducting a raiding strategy along the length of the Libyan coastline to keep regime forces off balance and uncertain as to where the next attack will come from, according to UK Army Air Corps (AAC) commanders involved in the mission over the North African country.

"AH attacks are a visible demonstration of NATO resolve," Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Cook, head of the UK's Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) Air Manoeuvre Planning Team (AMPT), told a media briefing on 8 July. "We are operating from Brega [on the eastern edge of regime-controlled territory] to Zuwaya [between the capital Tripoli and the Tunisian border]. This increases the risk and sense of uncertainty among regime forces and provides a vital psychological effect."

The UK AgustaWestland WAH-64D Apache AH.1s embarked on the Royal Navy (RN) helicopter carrier HMS Ocean , in conjunction with French Army Light Aviation Eurocopter Tiger HAP and Aerospatiale SA342 Gazelle helicopters, flying from the amphibious assault ship BPC Tonnerre , began strike operations against Libyan targets on 3 June.

"In a 24-hour period Ocean and Tonnerre can appear anywhere on the Libyan coast, and then the regime will not know where we will strike next," said an AAC officer who had recently served on HMS Ocean off Libya.

[Source: By Tim Ripley, Jane’s, 22Jul11]

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