Until Operation Unified Protector shuts down on Oct. 31, NATO will continue to run missions over Libya, principally intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance flights and enforcement of the no-fly zone and arms embargo, according to NATO’s air commander, Lt. Gen. Ralph Jodice. He told the Daily Report in an interview Monday that NATO aircraft performed their last “kinetic” mission in Libya on Oct. 20, but the alliance continues to be “prepared to protect civilians if they are so threatened.” Jodice said he’s been gratified that NATO partners and four other coalition members have contributed “everything they could” in manpower and hardware to the operation. It’s been “a big success,” he said. Despite complaints of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that NATO partners were short of munitions, Jodice said weapons availability was never a problem. “I never once had to cancel or postpone a sortie because I didn’t have the right munitions,” he said.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.