Apache attack helicopters, flying from HMS Ocean, conducted their first operational sorties over Libya last night as part of NATO's Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR to protect civilians under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
The mission was carefully co-ordinated with other allied air missions by NATO's air operations centre, based at Poggio in Italy, and in particular was planned alongside an operation by French helicopters from the assault ship Tonnerre.
Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategic Communications Officer, said:
"The Apaches were tasked with precision strikes against a regime radar installation and a military checkpoint, both located around Brega. Hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon were used to destroy the targets; the helicopters then returned safely to HMS Ocean.
"In the same area, Royal Air Force ground attack aircraft destroyed another military installation, whilst a separate RAF mission successfully attacked two ammunition bunkers at the large Waddan depot in central Libya.
"The targets which were prosecuted by the attack helicopters, Tornados and Typhoons had been carefully and rigorously selected; our understanding of the detailed disposition of Colonel Gaddafi's forces has been improving in a very satisfactory manner, despite their efforts to conceal themselves.
"The UK and NATO have been clear throughout this operation that they will use whatever assets and resources are most appropriate to enforce UN Security Council Resolution [UNSCR] 1973 and protect Libyan civilians under threat of attack.
"Operations to date have made good progress in securing the no-fly zone and preventing serious loss of life in Misurata and Benghazi. It is therefore now appropriate to employ attack helicopters to help intensify the effect that NATO can deliver at key points against regime forces which continue to threaten their own people.
"As yesterday's operations demonstrate, the capabilities of the Apache complement well the precision strike and reconnaissance missions flown by NATO fast jets."