Tuesday, May 24, 2011

France, UK to Deploy Attack Helicopters in Libya

The French Defence Minister says Britain and France are to deploy attack helicopters to protect civilians in Libya.

While the Ministry of Defence is yet to confirm the announcement it has said it is constantly reviewing the ways it can support the NATO operation in Libya.

If the UK does adopt the same strategy as France, it would probably use attack helicopters such as the RAF's Apaches, which can hit small targets in built-up areas. Such a move would represent a significant stepping-up of international military operations.

French foreign minister Alain Juppe told reporters in Brussels: "The British, who have similar resources to us, are going to do the same thing we are."

French amphibious assault ship Le Tonnerre sailed from Toulon last week and reports in the Paris media suggest it is carrying 12 helicopters and sailing for the Libyan coast.

Apaches could fly from HMS Ocean in the Mediterranean for joint operations with French aircraft.

Speaking in London last night after talks with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Foreign Secretary William Hague declined to comment on the prospect of the use of attack helicopters.

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