First Apache Sorties over Libya

Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)06.06.2011 Libya
First Apache Sorties over Libya

First Apache Sorties over Libya

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Apache Attack Helicopters, flying from HMS Ocean, conducted their first operational sorties over Libya last night as part of NATO's Operation Unified Protector to protect civilians under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

The mission was carefully coordinated with other allied air missions by NATO's air operations centre, based at Poggio in Italy, and in particular was planned alongside an operation by French helicopters from the assault ship Tonnerre.

Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategic Communications Officer, said: "The Apaches were tasked with precision strikes against a regime radar installation and a military checkpoint, both located around Brega. Hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon were used to destroy the targets; the helicopters then returned safely to HMS Ocean.  In the same area, Royal Air Force (RAF) ground attack aircraft destroyed another military installation, whilst a separate RAF mission successfully attacked 2 ammunition bunkers at the large Waddan depot in central Libya.
Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, said:  "This was the first operational mission flown by British Army Apaches at sea. Their deployment from HMS Ocean demonstrates the flexibility of not just the aircraft, but also the Royal Navy's Responsive Force Task Group, held at very high readiness for contingency operations around the world.

The Apache Attack Helicopters are operated by crews of 656 Squadron, Army Air Corps, from the Royal Navy helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean. Ocean also has embarked a number of supporting Fleet Air Arm helicopters, including Sea King early warning aircraft.

HMS Ocean is one of 5 Royal Navy ships that have been diverted from a long-planned exercise deployment (Cougar 11) to support the enforcement of UNSCR 1973, demonstrating the adaptability and flexibility of maritime forces.
The task force, known as the Responsive Force Task Group, is led by Commodore John Kingwell in the flagship HMS Albion, which is equipped with excellent command and control facilities and a range of other capabilities. The ships are escorted by the Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland, and are supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Wave Knight (carrying fuel) and Fort Rosalie (carrying ammunition and stores).

Source: Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)


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