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Norway Withdraws Jets from Libya Ops: Military

Aug. 1, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
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OSLO - Norway on Aug. 1 withdrew as planned its final four F-16 fighter jets that have been taking part in the NATO-led mission over Libya, the Norwegian military said.

The Norwegian planes, which landed at their bases in Bodoe in the north of Norway and in Oerland in the central west of the country, carried out 583 missions, out of a total of 6,493 flown by NATO since March 31, and dropped 569 bombs, military spokesman Petter Lindqvist told AFP.

On June 10, the center-left government, split over Norway's prolonged participation in the bombing, announced it would gradually withdraw its six F-16 fighter jets stationed at the Souda base on the Greek island of Crete.

The government explained that its small air force could not sustain a large air contribution for a long period of time.

Only eight of NATO's 28 member states have flown bombing missions since the alliance took command of the operation on March 31: Norway, Britain, France, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the United States.

London has increased its contribution by adding four Tornado jets, effectively making up for the loss of the Norwegian planes.

NATO officials say Norway's departure will not affect the tempo of air operations, which have averaged more than 100 sorties per day including around 50 missions aimed at hitting targets.

The Scandinavian country, shocked by a bombing and shooting spree committed by a far-right extremist, will continue its involvement in the operation with 10 officers posted at the Libya air command centre based in Italy.

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