Although rebel forces have gained hardly any ground in Libya, NATO officials are still optimistic that airpower alone will eventually force Col. Ghaddafi’s regime from power. To that end, air strikes have increasingly focused on Libya’s defense and security infrastructure, including vehicle, ammunition and missile depots; intelligence and secret police headquarters; the presidential complex in Tripoli; and other command and control sites.
In the wake of the killing of terrorist chieftain Osama bin Laden last month by U.S. forces in Pakistan, there have been reports of specially trained personnel from the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security visiting FBOs located at airports served by airlines.
NATO-led air operations over Libya have failed to prevent a stalemate in the civil war there, although humanitarian aid flights and shipments have been protected. Air strikes on the heavy weapons of the Gaddafi regime have continued, but NATO commanders admitted the difficulty of identifying and attacking regime forces that move in light vehicles and trucks.
The coalition of nations flying over Libya to protect civilians under UN Resolution 1973 is still flying some 150 sorties daily. Countries contributing aircraft are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, the Netherlands, Spain, the UAE, the UK and the U.S.
The air campaign over Libya has rekindled the debate about what exactly air power can accomplish without “boots on the ground.”
AgustaWestland announced at Heli-Expo 2011 the debut of the AW139M, a customized, military version of its successful multi-role AW139. Featured earlier this year at the AFA Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, it carries in it military technology required by the U.S. Air Force’s common vertical lift support program (CVLSP).
A pilot was arrested in Ozana, Texas, after he failed a field sobriety test and deputies found firearms and empty beer cans inside his Robinson R22. The officers were called to the scene by residents who saw the helicopter flying low and then land in a field next to a barbecue party.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has an ambitious plan to design, develop and manufacture 1,500 helicopters in next 10 years. According to a senior HAL official, "100 of those will be advanced light helicopters (ALH), 300 will be light utility helicopters (LUH) and the rest will be multi-role helicopters (MRH)." HAL will invest $4.4 billion to modernize and expand its capacity to execute current orders worth $22 billion.
I have long suspected that the main U.S. purpose in supplying huge arms packages to Gulf countries is to recycle petrodollars. Uncle Sam pays heavily for its reliance on imported oil, but offers in return a shopping list of shiny new weaponry from the U.S. defense industry. Like kids in a candy store, the Arabs take up these offers, although with not enough thought given to how they might absorb and operate the kit.
J. Richard “Dick” Bennett, 88, the founder of Pensacola Aviation, died on November 17 in Florida. A heavy bomber pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he was later involved in the lumber manufacturing and timber business as well as aircraft sales. He also served as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party before founding Pensacola Aviation in 1977.