The Weapons We’re Hitting Gadhafi With

I’m sure you’ve read all about the air strikes going on in Libya right now so I’ll spare you from any recap. However, I want to share this quick rundown of all the allied weaponry being thrown at Col. Gadhafi’s forces that my old colleague Chris Cavas tacked on to the end of a story about the strikes. It’s apparent that the U.S. and our allies are throwing all the tools of modern, high-end war at the Libyan government, from submarine-launched cruise missiles to strikes by B-2 Spirit bombers and British Tornado and French Rafale fighters. Even ancient airframes mounted with modern sensors like the Navy’s P-3 Orion and EP-3 Aries patrol planes are in the mix. It’s an example of the type of old fashioned, high-tech, knock em dead with overwhelming force, air- and sea-campaign that we haven’t seen for a while.

Here we go:



· Submarines Providence, Scranton and Florida launching Tomahawks.

· Destroyers Barry and Stout launching Tomahawks.

· Amphibious assault ships Kearsarge and Ponce, carrying Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

· Command ship Mount Whitney.

· Support ships Lewis and Clark, Robert E. Peary and Kanawha.

· U.S. Navy aircraft include EA-18G Growler electronic air warfare aircraft, at least four P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and one EP-3E Aries electronic surveillance aircraft, all flying from land bases in the Mediterranean. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jets are operating from the Kearsarge.

· Air Force aircraft include B-2 stealth bombers and F-15 and F-16 fighters.

· The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group will deploy from Norfolk,Va., on March 23 ahead of schedule to support Odyssey Dawn operations. The group includes the amphibious ships Bataan, Mesa Verde and Whidbey Island carrying the 22nd MEU.



· Aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle left its base at Toulon March 20 en route to waters off Libya. De Gaulle is carrying 20 aircraft, including Rafale and Super Etendard strike fighters, and is escorted by the destroyers Dupleix and Forbin, frigate Aconit, oiler La Meuse, and an unnamed nuclear attack submarine.

· Destroyer Jean Bart already on the scene.

· French land-based strike aircraft spearheaded the March 19 attacks on Libya.



· Destroyer Andrea Doria Frigate Euro Support ship Etna As of early March 20, more ships were to be en route from Italy: destroyer Francesco Mimbelli; frigate Fenice; patrol ships Libra and Sirio; amphibious ships San Giorgio and San Marco.

· At least 4 Tornado strike aircraft and 4 other combat aircraft are available.



· Frigate Charlottetown Six CF-18 Hornet strike fighters Canada’s forces are operating as part of Operation Mobile.



· Unnamed Trafalgar-class nuclear attack submarine launching Tomahawks.

· Frigates Westminster and Cumberland.

· Typhoon and Tornado strike aircraft operating from Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy. Tornado GR4s with Storm Shadow cruise missiles took place in the initial strikes on March 19, flying from the Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Marham in Norfolk, eastern England. Agence-France Presse reported the aircraft conducted four mid-air refueling operations during the 3,000-mile, eight-hour mission, the longest Royal Air Force bombing mission since the 1982 Falklands war.

· Additionally, E3-D Sentry, Sentinel and Tristar surveillance aircraft and VC-10 aerial tankers are operating.

· The British effort against Libya is dubbed Operation Ellamy.



· Six F-16 fighters to be ready for operations March 21.



· Six F-16 fighters and a transport are operating from Sigonella air base on Sicily.



· Four combat aircraft reportedly are in operation by March 20.



· Four F-18 strike fighters are operating from Decimomannu air base on the Italian island of Sardinia.

· One aerial tanker and one CN-235 maritime surveillance plane.

· A submarine and frigate are to deploy this week pending parliamentary approval, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.



· Strike aircraft are reported en route to Decimomannu air base.

The U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise, which recently passed through the Mediterranean, is now in the Arabian Sea conducting air operations over Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Compiled from reports from U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Navy, British Ministry of Defence, Canadian Forces, Agence France-Presse, Deutsche Presse-Agentur.



  • Cornhusker

    So Italy can field a total of eight combat aircraft for this mission? Wow, that makes the French look muscular.

    • jamesb101

      but they supply bases for the jump offs….

    • dan seven

      French have the 6th largest Military on the planet..regards Dan7

    • Giulio

      Italy could deploy around 75 Typhoons, 20-30 F-16’s and some 60-80 Tornado, talking about operative fighters only. The reasons of the scarce effort is that the Italian actual mafia-government has been very friendly with Gheddafi in the past 3 years because of the immigrants invasions that he has managed to stop after receiving 5 billions and other favors from the government.

  • Wells

    looks like the French brought the whole gang for this one

    • @Cr4shDummy

      Yep, and I’m glad they’ve devoted a whole squadron to the mission. They should be the ones spearheading the operation.

  • Sanem

    all these cruise missiles and B-2s seem absurd to me, paying $1-2 million dollar per shot or using the world’s most advanced, most expensive bomber to attack some soviet-era installations

    this goes to show how much of a game-changer UCAVs would be: at $50 million a piece, using SDBs, these could fly in from their home bases in Europe or from nearby carriers, bomb and loiter all you want, and than fly back home for a quick re-armament. stealthy, cheap and with no risk of crashed pilots, this will be the ultimate bomb delivery system

    and even after they’ve bombed all the static targets, the UCAVs can be used for intelligence gathering for days on end. if they spot a moving target, the pilot can give control to an in-field operator (like AWACS, 2-seater fighter or a nearby base or ship using a relay aircraft) to execute the attack without any time delays

    • Sev

      Hey. You wanna complain about cost, complain about the stimulus packages and Obamacare. For now, lets just enjoy giving Gadaffi a good hard pounding. The guy f***ing deserves it. Although I would’ve prefered we let the Arabs sort it out. However since we are in this mess now, might as well enjoy seeing that little Goat f***ker that we are not a paper tiger

      • Jacob

        You mean the stimulus packages that most economists agree helped to revive the economy? The ACA is considered to be deficit neutral as well, so don’t pick on that. The reason we’re facing deficits now is because of tax cuts, two prolonged wars (this can’t be helped), a defense budget that pays for “nice to haves” rather than “must haves”, and Medicare.

        • William C.

          Most economists agree? lol. The stimulus was a joke that cost us billions. A waste. A B-2A is a bargain by that measure.

    • STemplar

      I’m sure the Pentagon agrees with you since they are funding that development. I wouldn’t expect cruise missiles to disappear from the mix though. 100 cruise missiles at actually less than 1 million per shot to take down air defenses, as opposed to losing one manned air plane at a cost of upwards of $100 million, even for teen the series, when including life cycle cost and pilot’s. Seems about right to me, plus no funeral.

      • blight

        Wars are inevitably lost when attrition kills all your best personnel. Cruise missiles are a dress rehearsal on how to smackdown a legitimate future enemy for which loiter and bomb may not always be the safe option.

    • jamesb101

      the weapons where made to be used….

      anyone looking for the Defense Budget to get cut is dreaming….

    • William C.

      Except you ought to have manned bombers and fighters too even with UCAVs. The increased flexibility is a must.

      Meanwhile cruise missiles are incredibly useful for a number of reasons. They give US Navy cruisers and destroyers the ability to attack countless land-based targets, they are even cheaper than UCAVs, and the enemy can waste a ton of SAMs trying to stop them.

  • Chops

    Just out of curiousity why are only 2 of the 22 member Arab League nations contributing to the U N military effort-they were the ones begging for U N INTERVENTION.

    • STemplar

      Because the rest are worried about the same thing happening to them and they want to keep their air forces at home to resist the next round of UN bombing on them……

      • Chops

        Or is it because they got their lackeys that need their oil doing their dirty work for them?We spend the money and the lives of our troops and they reap the profit-as usual.

        • Nadnerbus

          Disgusting and dirty, but there is a sad amount of truth to this. The west comes in and takes out a trouble maker. They smack down their own dissidents in the mean time, offer a few token concessions to their unhappy people, and then go on with business as usual. Then, no matter how things in Libya turn out, whatever problems remain will be blamed on the west in general, and the US and Israel in particular. France in particular and Europe in general will ensure the flow of oil out of Libya for their economies, and the rest is just window dressing.

          I am tired of trying to fix the world. We are only hated for our efforts. Let them fight it out, and maybe with some blood, sweat, and tears, they will actually learn to build a better life for themselves. We can’t give it to them. At the very least, this operation should be a purely European one. France could not have cared less about our interests when we went into Iraq, and did everything they could to sink us. Now we have their back to protect their oil flow?

          I’m really starting to feel like the US is the world’s biggest sucker.

          • Chops

            Exactly-look at kuwait, saudi arabia, and iraq in part 1 and 2-American and Coalition forces lives lost to help insure their freedom and they continue to hate us.We are being played-plain and simple.One of these years when oil doesn’t matter anymore some country is finally going to get fed up with this Mideast B S and bomb these people back to the stone age.

          • Nadnerbus

            you mean forward

          • STemplar

            I think when the oil runs out far worse will happen to the middle east, they’ll be ignored…

      • jamesb101

        He, he, he….Yup!

  • reader

    FYI, i dont think it was mentioned here, but couple days ago rebels shot down their own Mig-23 over benghazi .. videos up on tubes.

  • FormerDirtDart

    I believe this is the first use of the Ohio class SSGN in combat.

    • hotel55

      Speaking of first uses in combat, I wonder why no F-22s have been deployed? Patrolling a no fly zone would seem like a perfect job for them, since the “air-dominance” mission is what they’re made for….

      • Chops

        As a guess I would say because Gates doesn’t want the world to see its’ full capabilities and admit he was wrong to cancel production of the most advanced Stealth Fighter in the world.

        • Joe Schmoe

          More than likely he didn’t want their radar signature recorded for such a small operation.

          The F-22 in regular patrol flight carries a radar reflective beacon which prevents someone from getting the full stealth profile (and they can see the plane), it can be ejected by the pilot in case of emergency (engagement in combat).

          • hotel55

            Still, as an American taxpayer, I’d like to see sometime what we’ve bought and what it can do besides acrobatics at air shows. Gotta “cut the cord” sometime and let the chick out of it’s nest! To me it’s almost like the big wigs are afraid of failure instead of saying “That’s right! Deal with that!” And I don’t think Libya has anything left that can record a radar signature..

          • Joe Schmoe

            Not just Libya, you have a Chinese cruiser sitting in the Mediterranean and you have Egyptian advanced radars (American ironically) which would also cover the area.

            Not to mention our “Allies” such as France, etc. No need for them to know those details either.

      • STemplar

        Why would the be deployed, nothing else was. The Kearsage was moved and some extra marines flown in. This whole effort so far has been an Oscar Sierra whatever we had at the moment kinda thing. Qaddafi called their bluff and the allies used pretty much they had without anything being moved. The F15s came from the same base as the UK Tornados, and they flew the whole way from there. They may have armed them at Aviano or something but they came from England. Obviously the B2s from the USA.

        I’m curious where the Growlers came from. The E in the Red Sea?

  • amauyong

    No F-22 involvement please….you won’t want one of these beautiful rare birds to develop some kind of “technical problem”…low probability as it is…(i.e. “desert dust”, atmospheric temperature/heating in that part of the world etc) ..and crashed somewhere in Libya…imagine the Russkies and the Chinese having those crashed “parts” to play or leverage or reverse-engineered on for their own “stealth fighter” programs…

    • Jay

      like they did with the shotdown F117’s 70’s stealth tech in Kosovo? They dont need the F-22 over there. They could get by with F-111’s, A6’s, and F-14’s like they did in the 1980’s.

    • Justin H

      Why use B-2s then?

  • amauyong

    Well…once the ADS (Air Defence Sites), arty/armor assets and C&C capabilities are heavily degraded into uselessness….it is up to the rebel “army” to take up the slack…problem is…will the rebel “army” use the “time given” to train up such as it is and properly/correctly at least equiped itself 1st (mind you from the youtube vids i don’t see any of them packing a shovel, you need to dig in to protect yourself from arty, mortar rounds with fragmentation, clear LOF from enemy heavy weopons @ MGs/Direction fire rockets etc and others…a handy shovel helps a lot…else use civilian equipment on-hand to “dig” in your foot soldiers or provide additional protection cover for your “technicals” too)…

    It is easy to start a war….stopping one takes a lot…

    Hope this turn out right for Libya and its people who really cares about Libya and where she should go.

    Good day folks.

    • Nadnerbus

      There is no way this doesn’t end with someone’s troops on the ground from the coalition. Hell, I guarantee some of them are already there. Who’s coordinating with the rebels, making sure the bombs go in the right place, not on “friendlies” etc? It’s a small step to training and advising them, as it were. Taking out the IADS does little to save the rebels, Qaddafi can just pulverize them with arty and tanks , so then we move up to supporting from the air in their defensive, eventually offensive efforts. This is how you get sucked into a wider war. Once you take sides and commit force, national prestige and future ability to deter are at stake. It’s too late to back down. Then you get to find out exactly who the people are we are helping, and I am kind of afraid of what that might look like.

      I really hope this all turns out for the better. The history of that whole region doesn’t lead me to that conclusion though.

      • Chops

        The part that worries me is that in 2 or 3 days we will have 2 M E Us sitting off the coast of Libya.Obama better not use those troops to help people that want nothing more than to see us dead-I don’t want to see the life of one Coalition Troop put in danger for those people.

      • Tech

        UK already has SAS “advisors” on the ground; this was reported a couple weeks ago. So yes, we (UN/Coalition Forces) already have boots on the ground.

        Hell, I’m sure our own clandestine agencies already have “advisors” on the ground.

  • Stratege

    It’s called a “baby beating”

  • Brian

    Libya is a tough situation. Ghadafi is a douche, and he is bombing and gunning down his own people. When your troops turn machine guns on crowds in your own country, you’re not a good guy. Then he basically dared us to do anythnig about it.

    Are the people opposing him any better? Don’t know. Won’t ever know unless the take power. They can hardly be worse than Ghadafi though. Dude has a statue of a fist crushing a US airliner in his front yard. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • Kevin

    Is this just overkill?

    • blight

      Overkill is when you start killing the wrong people. Your mileage may vary.

    • Charles Lucas

      Remember ! Russia is just laying low! Their time could come soon ! This has something to do with this awsome presence - I suspect! I am just a carpenter!

  • William C.

    Funny how Saudi Arabia with all of it’s F-15s, Tornadoes, and Typhoons is doing nothing.

    • hotel55

      I agree! The Arab air forces in that region have the capability to do things like this on their own!

      • mike j

        Most countries lack the ability to plan these ops regardless of equipment. They can defend themselves alright, but they need help operating over foreign territory. It’s not easy for anyone. Just look at Britain and France: They aren’t slouches by any stretch, but there’s a reason AFRICOM was initially put in charge.

        As for the Saudis, more than anything it’s politics that’s keeping them out. They’ve had it with us, we’ve become undependable.

    • Jay

      Why would they? They are worried about a revolt in their own backyard. Look what happened to the French after they helped the American revolution, their people wanted it too. The Saudi’s are busy funding massive public works projects to try to avoid going the way of kingdoms passed.

  • Jay

    Off topic-ish but what do you think will happen if Gadhafi pops some chemical weapons?

  • Rob G

    Who’s paying for all this? How about we tell our Arab League (ahem) allies: “For every day we have our forces cleaning up your little problem,you give us ten supertanker loads of oil”

    • Chops

      I wouldn’t hold my breath for even 10 barrels of oil from our -ahem- illustrious arab allies.

  • subutai

    Except all of it’s for show, because we have announced to the world Gahafi can stay after we blow up some rusted old tanks with million dollar missiles. What a recipe for disaster. When you pull a gun on someone, be prepared to use it, or they will get their revenge.

  • daved

    I spent eight weeks drilling figure-8s in the ocean north of Libya during the first Gulf War back in Jan 1981, aboard the USS Belknap CG-26 with COMSIXFLT embarked. Wish we could have been involved then in what is going on now. Great report on the equipment being used. Nice to see the Ohio-class SSGN in operation. I think part of this is “opportunity” to engage weapons is to give those military folks real hands-on experience. Nothing wrong with going in with massive firepower. Too bad though that we (the U.S.) has to lead this effort. Who pays for it? We do. We will.

  • Chops

    One F15E down-thats 100mil. to the tab.Thank God both crewmembers are safe and sound.

  • FlyHiFlyLo

    Donald Trump would be renting our forces out by the hour plus expenses. This is how we get used like a 2 dollar whore by the French after all the cash they stole from Oil for Food program then refused to back us up in Iraqi Freedom. WAJ Our leaders are “”Foolish or Stupid”

  • F.Scott

    what no A10 s?

  • Greg Anderson

    Well another case of you feed your dog when he’s good and you spank his ass when he’s bad. This is one expensive ass whipping.