The Nuts and Bolts of a No-Fly Zone in Libya
Former fighter pilot describes the sizeable military buildup needed for no-fly.
March 10, 2011 -- U.S. officials and the Pentagon have pushed back against calls from Capitol Hill and the international community to implement a no-fly zone in Libya, citing the logistical difficulty and need for military action.
Supporters of a no-fly zone point to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's military advantage against rag-tag rebels who have little or no military training.
As the United States and others contemplate what actions to take in Libya at NATO meetings today in Brussels, here is a look at some possible options, from the view of Stephen Ganyard, a former fighter pilot who has enforced no-fly zones in Bosnia and flown combat missions in Iraq, as well as served as a deputy assistant secretary of state.
QUESTION: What would it actually take to implement a no-fly zone?
ANSWER: The first thing that would have to happen is we would have to bring in aircraft to take out the enemy surface to air missile systems and enemy fighters that are on the ground.
Q: What would you actually have to take out? What does Libya have in terms of air defenses?
A: There are air defenses all the way 600 miles from Bengazhi to Tripoli and inland 2-300 miles into the southern part of the oil fields. So you would have to take out not just the airfields themselves but the surface to air missile systems that are defending the key ports and airfields themselves.
Q: What it would take in terms of ships, naval bases, how that would work?
A: It would take a sizeable buildup of both naval and air forces, we'd put forces in Sigonella, Sicily, and in Crete, NATO air space here in Southern Europe. We'd have to have aircraft carriers off shore. We have air to air refueling tankers off shore and we'd have to have fighter combat air patrols off shore before we even thought of going inland.
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