March 19, 2011 / 2:12 PM / 8 years ago

FACTBOX-Military assets in play in Libya crisis

 March 19 (Reuters) - Military action authorised by the
United Nations against Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi
could take place under NATO command or under a coalition of the
willing led by France and Britain.
 NATO said its ambassadors would meet to discuss their
response, while analysts expect an initial strike would target
Libya's military aircraft, air force bases and communication
 Following are assets that could be used in action against
Libya, and those belonging to Gaddafi's military:
 France, which was at the forefront of the push to take
action in Libya, would likely deploy Mirage and Rafale fighters
from air bases near the Mediterranean towns of Marseille and
Istres or from the island of Corsica.
 Airborne refuelling tanker aircraft are also ready to depart
from Istres.
 Fighter jets could reach Libya in around an hour and a half
from the south of France and in around an hour from Corsica.
 France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is at the
Mediterranean port of Toulon and could be deployed on Sunday.
 The carrier could reach the Libyan coast in one and a half
days carrying 15 fighter jets. Its battle group includes three
frigates, a fuel-supply ship and an attack submarine.
 France rejoined NATO's military command in 2009.
 Britain said it would deploy Typhoon patrol jets and 
all-weather Tornado attack aircraft which are based at Royal Air
Force bases in Scotland and the eastern county of Norfolk but
would be moved in the coming hours to unidentified bases nearer
 Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament that air-to-air
refuelling and surveillance aircraft would also be used.
 Britain has two frigates off the Libyan coast: HMS
Cumberland and HMS Westminster. The Ministry of Defence said it
was not clear if they would be used in any operation and added
destroyers could also be deployed.
 The Pentagon said that it was ready to carry out orders on
Libya but said it would not discuss possible operations. 
 The U.S. Navy has five combat ships in the Mediterranean,
including at least one guided missile destroyer. The United
States does not have any aircraft carriers close to Libya.
 The USS Enterprise, which in recent weeks was stationed in
the Red Sea, has been moved eastwards, away from Libya, to join
the USS Carl Vinson, in the Arabian Sea to support Afghanistan
 Aviano, south of the Alps in Italy, is the region's only
U.S. air base with aircraft assigned to it -- 42 F-16s. The
Pentagon has declined to discuss the positioning of other planes
in the region.
 The United States has a range of military bases and
installations in the Mediterranean elsewhere in Italy, Greece,
Spain and Turkey.
 Italy has given its full support to military action against
Libya, saying that it would actively participate and offering
its airbases.
 Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said seven bases in Italy
-- at Amendola, Gioia del Colle, Sigonella, Aviano, Trapani,
Decimomannu and Pantelleria -- were available and some allies
had already asked to use them. 
 Five of them are on the southern mainland or Sicily, making
them some of the closest available bases to Libya.
 Spain has offered up to six F-18 bombers and an F-100
frigate, as well as troops. Two Spanish bases - Rota in Cadiz
and Moron de la Frontera in Sevilla -- are also available for
use in the military operation.
 Norway said it will make its F-16 fighter jets available for
an operation in Libya and could also provide Hercules transport
aircraft to assist in humanitarian efforts.
 Denmark said it would send six F-16 planes and one military
transport plane to support an intervention in Libya. The planes
were ready to leave Denmark on Saturday for a southern European
base with around 100 personnel including pilots and support.
 The Dutch government said it backs the no-fly zone over
Libya and would support a military intervention if asked, but
has not been asked to contribute for now.
 Non-NATO member Sweden is seen as possibly coming into
support enforcement of the no-fly zone at a later stage.
 Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are seen as
the most likely Arab nations to provide back-up for an
 Libya's military before the insurrection was on paper made
up of 100,000 troops, backed by heavy artillery, tanks,
warplanes and a small navy.
 Since the rebellion, some members of the armed forces have
defected and some hardware has fallen into rebel hands.
 The level of rebel strength is difficult to ascertain, but
the best-equipped and -trained units -- up to 12,000 men -- have
remained loyal to Gaddafi because they are outside the regular
army structure and are commanded by family members or people in
his inner circle.
 Libya's military has been undermined by sanctions and
neglect. Much equipment is poorly maintained or unusable.
 In Libya's east around Benghazi, regular military forces
appear to have either defected to the opposition or melted away.
Citizen groups have taken up arms. But analysts say the
opposition lacks command and control.
 GROUND FORCES - Numbers: 50,000 including 25,000 conscripts.
 Main Battle Tanks - 800, although many are thought to be
 Armoured Infantry Fighting vehicles - 1,000.
 Armoured personnel carriers - 945.
 Artillery pieces 2,421
 Air Defence surface-to-air missiles - More than 400.
 NAVY - Numbers: 8,000. Two patrol submarines, which might
both be out of action. Three surface vessels and 16 patrol and
coastal ships.
 AIR FORCES  Numbers: 18,000. Combat capable aircraft - 394
(A mixture of Russian and French aircraft, many non-operational
or in store) French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday
that only 20 were operational.
 Air Defence Command has at least 216 surface-to-air missiles
and 144 towed and 72 self propelled missiles. Maintenance may be
an issue. Most analysts believe Libya's armed forces could not
seriously threaten outside air forces enforcing a no-fly zone.
 Sources for Libyan military: Reuters/IISS Military Balance
 (Reporting by Catherine Bremer in Paris, Keith Weir in London;
Additional reporting by David Cutler; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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