Recent briefings in Brussels and London on Operation Unified Protector reveal that attack helicopters provided by France and the UK are now making key contributions to NATO-led operations over Libya, which has been extended until the end of September.
A week after U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates praised Denmark and Norway for punching above their weight in the Libyan operations, both countries indicated they would scale back their contribution of F-16 fighters. They “have provided 12 percent of allied strike aircraft yet have struck about one-third of the targets” said Gates, praising them for the effective use of their limited resources.
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.
Marshall Aerospace took steps to boost the future of its core business: C-130 Hercules maintenance and support. The Cambridge, UK-based company will partner with Lockheed Martin in the OEM’s offer to provide enhanced and performance-based sustainment solutions to the air forces of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Marshall Aerospace has previously overhauled and modifies C-130s for these countries.
The Moroccan government’s military transport wing has taken delivery of the first of four C-27J Spartans that it ordered from Alenia Aeronautica in October 2008. The aircraft, which arrived at Kenitra air base on July 7, is equipped with the self-protection suite but does not feature an in-flight refuelling probe.
Fifteen years after the concept was first mooted, NATO may finally acquire an alliance ground surveillance system (AGS). Northrop Grumman last month submitted a firm baseline proposal plus options on behalf of a transatlantic consortium that also includes EADS, Selex Galileo and a variety of smaller European companies.
Responding to mounting criticism of civilian casualties caused by air strikes, the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) tightened the rules of engagement (RoE) last July.
A report by the international Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization has put further pressure on U.S. and NATO air staffs and troops conducting air strikes in Afghanistan.
The proposed Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system for NATO was scaled back when program officials quietly dropped plans to convert four Airbus A321 airliners after deeming it too expensive. NATO also cancelled development of the Transatlantic Cooperative AGS Radar (TCAR), which would have been the main airborne sensor for the AGS.
A senior air force officer serving with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has challenged the defense industry to produce lighter and more capable equipment for troops calling in air strikes on Taleban positions.