Though the use of ground attack helicopters was confirmed, the Pentagon however denied the US was directly supporting rebel fighters.
The US Air Force uses the AC-130 gunships for close air support, air interdiction, air missions, bombing raid, and force protection. Close air support roles include supporting ground troops, escorting convoys, and flying urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against planned targets and targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include defending air bases and other facilities.
The A-10 Thunderbolt on the other hand, has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and is an highly accurate weapons-delivery platform. The aircraft can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3 meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. The wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness.
These actions are only in support of the UN-backed resolutions to protect Libyan civilians, Vice Admiral Gortney said.
“We’re not in direct support of the opposition, that’s not part of our mandate, and we’re not coordinating with the opposition.”
Source: ABC News, Aircraft information from wikipedia.org and USAF, photo from Google images
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