Warplanes: French Combat Aviation In Libya


October 28, 2011: With NATO military operations over Libya winding down, the participating nations are reviewing their experience and seeking lessons learned. France was one of the major contributors to the effort, flying 25 percent of the air sorties and contributing many of the warships off the coast of Libya. The 4,500 French air sorties put their aircraft in the air for 20,000 hours. Many were flown from the carrier de Gaulle. French warplanes carried out 35 percent of the bombing missions, using 950 smart bombs. These included 15 French made SCALP missiles and 225 Hammer GPS guided bombs. French helicopter gunships flew 90 percent of NATO helicopter attack missions, using 431 HOT missiles and thousands of cannon rounds. French warships fired over 3,000 rounds of 100mm and 76mm naval gun rounds at sea and land targets off the Libyan coast.

These seven months of operations provided France with an opportunity to test their carrier aviation under intense combat situations. Although land based aircraft flew most of the missions, the de Gaulle was worked harder than ever before, and performed well. France also got to give its new smart munitions a heavy workout under combat conditions. While many of these weapons have been used in Afghanistan, air operations there are much less intense than they have been over Libya.





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