ROME - In their first official breakdown of facts and figures about Italy's air campaign over Libya this year, officials said military aircraft deployed 710 guided bombs and missiles during sorties. Italian Air Force Tornados and AMX fighter bombers deployed 550 bombs and missiles, while Navy AV8s deployed 160 guided bombs, the officials said during an event at Trapani Air Base in Sicily to honor military personnel involved in the conflict.
The Air Force total included Storm Shadow missiles, which sources put at between 20 and 30, which were fired from Tornado IDS aircraft - the first time the Air Force has deployed the missile during operations.
Otherwise, the Air Force deployed Paveway and JDAM guided munitions. AMX bombers for the first time used Litening III targeting pods, while Tornado IDS aircraft used JDAM munitions operationally for the first time.
Although the Air Force used guided bombs in its Kosovo campaign, Libya marked its first "extensive" use of guided munitions, said Air Force chief Gen. Giuseppe Bernardis.
With up to 12 different aircraft flying missions on given days during the seven-month operation, the Air Force racked up 1,900 sorties and 7,300 flying hours using Tornado IDS and AMX aircraft for strike missions, Tornado ECR for air defense suppression, F-16s and Eurofighters for no-fly zone patrol, C-130J and 767 tanker aircraft for refueling, and the unarmed Reaper UAV for reconnaissance.
Patrol and air defense flights accounted for 38 percent of flying hours, surveillance and reconnaissance flights took up 23 percent, ground-attack missions made up 14 percent, air defense suppression flights took up 8 percent, refueling flights took up 8 percent, flights detecting electromagnetic emissions and undertaking electronic warfare were 4 percent, while "armed reconnaissance and attacks on targets of opportunity" took up 5 percent.
More than 340,000 high-resolution pictures were taken by Reccelite pods on Tornado and AMX aircraft while 250 hours of video was transmitted in real time by Reaper UAVs.
Eight Italian Navy AV8 Harrier jets, which enforced the no-fly zone over Libya and operated bombing missions, flew 1,221 hours from the carrier Garibaldi, while 30 ship-based helicopters, including the EH-101, SH-3D and AB-212 types, flew 1,921 hours as part of the operation.
The Air Force also rushed into service its new Boeing 767 tanker aircraft. A third aircraft was delivered in November and the final aircraft is expected in the first quarter of 2012.
Italian Navy statistics released about the campaign revealed that two submarines, the Todaro and the Gazzana, were involved in the NATO Unified Protector operation.