Thursday, 17 March 2011

Libyan No Fly Zone Authorised

There are reports that the United Nations Security Council has just authorised a No Fly Zone over Libya.

Other Reports suggest that air forces from the Arab World will participate in the operation.

Italy is said to be prepared to allow it's bases to be used.

Italy had previously been opposed to the no fly zone.

Italian bases such as Sigonella are far closer to Libya than the British base at Akrotiri on Cyprus.

Italian "Host Nation Support" (H.N.S.) will make it far more practical for British combat aircraft to operate over Libya if they are based there.

This highlights how Britain is now dependent on foreign assistance to conduct combat operations.

The above graph shows the time on station at various radii of a typical modern fighter with 3 hours unrefuelled endurance at 500 miles per hour and also the number of such aircraft required to sustain a single aircraft on patrol for 24 hours assuming each aircraft flies 1 sortie per day.

Long distances between the base and operational area dramatically increase the assets which are required to generate a given level of air power.

Shortening those distances increases the air power which can be delivered by the available assets.

It will be interesting to see where British combat aircraft are based.

It will also be interesting to see where Canadian aircraft will be based as they are said to be contributing 6 CF18 Hornets to the operation.

Though we do not know how many aircraft will be involved in the no fly zone,the historic norm is that the nearest bases cannot accommodate them all.

Aircraft become spread across a spider's web of bases stretching across continental distances at ever increasing radii from the operational area.

This has the effect of increasing the number of combat aircraft required and increasing the demand for tanker aircraft.

The United States Ship (U.S.S.) Enterprise,a nuclear powered aircraft carrier was apparently in the Red Sea recently having left the Arabian Sea but is now reported to have returned to the Arabian Sea rather than passing through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.

The assault ship U.S.S. Kearsarge is in the Mediterranean Sea.

She usually carries a small force of Harriers in addition to helicopters and marines but can carry a larger,all Harrier air wing.

We do not know how many Harriers she has aboard at present.

The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle was recently in port in Toulon.

The United States Air Force has said that F22 Raptors may take part in operations,possibly the combat debut for that type as well as the Typhoon.

There are also American F16s based at Aviano.

It is not known if Greece will allow the use of facilities at Souda Bay on Crete.

Libya's 150 mile range SA-5 missiles are likely to be prime early targets for destruction.

A number of warships and submarines in the Mediterranean are capable of engaging such sites with cruise missiles.

Western air defence ships can also provide some air defence capabilities in coastal areas.

There is a possibility of 250 mile range Libyan Scud B missiles being used against targets on Malta which may be defended by Arleigh Burke class destroyers.


The Bald Cuban Press said...

No offense intended to our European friends, but as an American I'm having a hard time understanding how this is going to be anything other than a mostly American opperation, with the American taxpayer footing most of the bill, and mostly American lives at risk.

TheRagingTory said...

With bases in Italy, Malta and Crete (why not), carrier aircraft would be badly outclassed and outnumbered.

This should be prime RAF/FAF stomping ground.

The UK doing it alone was tricky, with basing rights in Italy....

GrandLogistics said...

Hello The Bald Cuban Press,

I was thinking the same thing until I heard that Enterprise had gone back to the Arabian Sea.
It is not often you see an operation without an American carrier.
I'm not sure if it is being left to the United States Air Force or the Europeans,time will tell.
There are some estimates of how much it would cost the American taxpayer:

"$100 million to $300 million per week

- Initial strike to secure airspace: $500 million and $1 billion

- Six month total: $3.1 billion - $8.8 billion"

It would be interesting if America held back and let the Europeans look impotent in their own back yard.


P.S.January 15ths entry on your blog was memorable.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello TheRaging Tory,

I will have to do an update,Greece and Italy were opposed to the no fly zone but both are now offering their bases,that makes things a lot easier.

The Tyranny of distance still dictates that land based aircraft will need far greater numbers to generate the same effect as a carrier even if they are based in Sicily.
But the numbers are far more reasonable from Sigonella than from Akrotiri,if the British aircraft end up there.
We shall see.

The American navy's Super Hornets are probably the best aircraft for this task at present,they have full air to air and air to ground capability.
Tornado is very limited air to air and Typhoon is currently limited in air to ground.

I am looking forward to a good set of statistics with Typhoon and F2 seeing combat for the first time and potentially having carrier and land based aircraft alongside.

As soon as more basing decisions are made public I can come up with more estimates.


The Bald Cuban Press said...

Hello again GrandLogistics. Thanks for the compliment. As you can tell, I live a life of un-paralleled excitement. And thanks for the straight up cost estimates. But my point was more pointed to the what you said about time on station and you later comment about F-18's and American carriers. I don't see any other way it could be done, with most;y American lives at risk, unless there are some basing options in Egypt that we don't know about. During a break at work some analyst was going on about American Logistics, E-8s, awacs etc... being provided, and European strike aircraft doing the actual fly overs. Again, I just don't see that as a workable option.