Britain deploys Tornado, Typhoon jets to Italian airbase

10:38, March 21, 2011      

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The British Defense Ministry on Sunday confirmed that Britain had deployed Tornado and Typhoon to the Italian airbase of Gioia Dell Colle in the south of the country.

Major General John Lorimer, chief of the Defense Staff's Strategic Communications Officer, said that a number of Typhoon aircraft have landed safely at the airbase in southern Italy where they are on standby for future tasking.

"It makes operational sense to be closer to the no-fly zone and our military assessment confirmed that this is the most suitable forward mounting base for these assets," he said.

RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus continues to support the operation under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 with a number of assets, including E3D Sentry, VC-10 and Sentinel.

British military authorities are discussing with its allies the most effective way of putting the no-fly zone in place. It is likely that this will be part of a NATO-led operation.

"The no-fly zone is likely to be in place for however long we are tasked to do this. The UK's stated aims are to support UNSCR 1973 and the Libyan people," Lorimer said.

"Britain has a number of assets already in the region which have previously assisted in the evacuation of British Nationals from Libya and others which we are ready to support as required," he said. "Currently within the region, we have E3-Ds which are keeping us abreast of events in the area, HMS Westminster is off the coast of Benghazi and HMS Cumberland is in the region should she be required."

Deployed to Akrotiri, Cyprus, is a Joint Force Air Component HQ (JFACHQ) which coordinates movements of British air assets and controls the airspace in operational areas.

In addition, Lorimer said the British involvement with operations in Libya currently has no effect on operations in Afghanistan, and "we are keeping the situation under review."

On the Libyan announcement of an immediate cease-fire, a spokesman for the Downing Street No. 10 said: "Everyone will recall that in recent days Colonel Gaddafi declared a cease-fire which was promptly violated."

"We said then we would judge him on his actions not his words and we will do so again," the spokesman said. "His obligations are very clearly set out by the UN Security Council Resolution. Our assessment is that he is in breach of these obligations so we will continue to enforce the Resolution."

Source: Xinhua

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