Airpower Innovation Over Libya

During Operation Unified Protector, airpower assets were often stretched thin over the vast populated regions along Libya’s coast, precipitating a great deal of innovation amongst the NATO coalition, retired Lt. Gen. Ralph Jodice told a Mitchell Institute crowd on Thursday. With no tasking authority on space assets, and limited access to ISR aircraft assigned elsewhere, he had to look elsewhere to meet ISR needs. For example, Jodice noted, he got a max of six U-2 sorties in a month during OUP. One way he overcame the ISR shortfall was to utilize the Swedish Gripen fighters, which had deployed in combat for the first time, and their highly capable targeting pods, for use in non-traditional ISR operations, flying tactical reconnaissance sorties. Jodice also praised the Jordanians, who dispatched F-16s to Aviano AB, Italy, and flew defensive counter air taskings six days out of the week, as well as the Qataris, who paired up with French fighters to fly DCA over Libya’s east near Benghazi and Brega, and the United Arab Emirates’ modern Block 60 F-16s, which carried out “deliberate targeting.” Maritime patrol aircraft, such as the P-3, as well as French and Italian assets, also took fire support teams on board to fly offshore, use sensors to find targets and pass them off to other aircraft for engagement, Jodice said.