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NATO Uses Attack Helicopters for First Time in Libya


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Fox News:

TRIPOLI – NATO announced Saturday it had for the first time used attack helicopters in Libya, striking military vehicles, military equipment and forces backing embattled leader Colonel Moamar Qaddafi.

"Attack helicopters under NATO command were used for the first time on 4 June, 2011 in military operations over Libya as part of Operation Unified Protector," the Atlantic Alliance said in a statement.

"The targets struck included military vehicles, military equipment and fielded forces" of the Qaddafi regime, said the statement, without detailing exactly where the strikes had taken place.

The Apaches hit two targets near the coastal city of Brega, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense in London.

It said they took off from HMS Ocean, stationed off the Libyan coast and returned safely after completing their mission in the early morning hours.

The French helicopters took off from the helicopter transport ship Tonnerre in the Mediterranean, said Col. Thierry Burkhard. He said the French helicopters struck 15 military vehicles and 5 military command buildings, without identifying the sites or their location.

He said the French helicopters came under light firearms fire but were not hit or damaged. Burkhard said the operation was aimed at putting "additional pressure on the Gadhafi forces who continue to threaten the civilian population."

Until now, NATO has relied on attack jets, generally flying above 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) -- nearly three miles (five kilometers) high and pounding Gadhafi targets in relentless overnight bombings.

But the helicopters are a game-changer, giving the alliance a key advantage in close-up combat, flying at much lower altitudes.snip
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