“More than 350 aircraft are involved in some capacity. Only slightly more than half belong to the United States.” AFP quoted US Navy Vice Admiral William Gortney as saying on Thursday at a Pentagon briefing.
As the Western alliance’s military operations entered its six day on Thursday Gortney added, “It’s fair to say the coalition is growing in both size and capability every day.”
According to the US military officials, between Tuesday and Wednesday, there were 175 air missions — including non-combat flights — in the Libya operation. Of that total, 65 percent were flown by US planes and 35 percent were flown by aircraft belonging to the Western forces, including France, Britain and Canada.
Canadian warplanes on Wednesday launched their first strikes since the start of the operations on Saturday in the opposition-controlled city of Misrata, some 210 kilometers (130 miles) east of Tripoli.
A blast of Tomahawk and Storm Shadow missiles fired from submarines in the Mediterranean, bombs dropped by B-2 stealth bombers and an array of fighter jets mounting military strikes over several Libyan cities have simply cost the US and Western governments hundreds of millions of dollars.
The first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn had a price tag of over $100 million for the US in missiles alone, according to estimates.
The 162 Tomahawk missiles fired into the eastern city of Benghazi and the capital Tripoli in the early stages of the operations cost more than $1 million each.
The F-15E fighter jet that crashed on Tuesday cost about $30 million and more will be needed to replace it.
According to experts at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the Western countries participating in the military operations in Libya would have to pay $30 million to $100 million per week in order to have a UN-mandated no-fly zone over the country up and running in the long term.
The United Sates has a long history of enforcing a no-fly zone in overseas, an example of which dates back to the 1990s, when the US took part in Operation Noble Anvil, an air assault in Yugoslavia. Enforcement of the no-fly zone lasted from March 1999 to June 1999, and cost $1.8 billion.
After the first Persian Gulf War, two no-fly zones were enforced in Iraq in an attempt to “protect civilians” from former dictator Saddam Hossein, a move that cost about $700 million a year — from 1992 to 2003.