Operation Odyssey Lightning ended with the liberation of Sirte on December 19 after having carried out 495 airstrikes. However, the US has launched other bombing missions on terrorists in Libya when it has seen an opportunity to do so.
The two bombers, named the Spirit of Georgia and the Spirit of Pennsylvania are attached to the 509th Bomb Wing, located at Whiteman Air Force Base Missouris. The two were said to have dropped more than 100 precision-guided missiles. When asked why the most technologically-advanced strategic bomber in the world was used for the mission Col. Patrick Ryder US Air Force spokesperson said that commanders were given options what to employ: “Because of it’s range, because of it’s payload capacity, it gives military commanders options. So in this particular case, carrying a GBU-38, a 500 pound JDAM, the B-2 can carry up to 80 of those.” Anothers spokesperson Capt. Mark Graff said that in addition the planes can carry a payload of up to $40,000 pounds and it can loiter for long periods of time.
READ MORE: CHECK OUT OUR OTHER TOP STORY ABOUT LIBYA
The mission was a costly one. The two flew for 34 hours at a cost of about $130,000 an hour. For the two, this adds up to about $8.8 million. This does not include the cost of 15 air refueling aircraft involved, not to mention the 100 missiles. The B-2 was last employed in March of 2011 as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn over Libya. The US Air Force has 20 B-2s.
The attacks took place on Wednesday. The Pentagon claimed on Thursday that the attacks killed more than 80 militants, and these included some who were plotting terrorist attacks in Europe. One wonders how the Pentagon was able to get such information on casualties and the plans to attack targets in Europe. One wonder too how such a large number of IS militants were able to be in camps without being confronted by Libyan forces. The New York Times also reported the attack included armed reaper drones flying from a base in Sicily. Ashton Carter, the departing secretary of defense told reporters: “We need to strike ISIL everywhere they show up. We know that some of the ISIL operatives in Libya were involved in plotting attacks in Europe.” The two camps attacks apparently were of Islamic State(IS) fighters who had regrouped after having been driven out of Sirte. Peter Cook the Pentagon press secretary said:“We had 100 terrorists training. That was a risk we could not accept.” Obama approved the strikes last week. A recent tweet confirmed the costly attack:” US deployed its most high tech bomber, not used in combat since 2011, to strike IS 50km south of Sirte #Libya. Ops cost at least $8mil. ” This strike will no doubt be a last goodbye by Obama to Libya as he leaves office.
While Trump wants better relations with Russia and may opt to side with Haftar and the east in the Libyan struggle it remains to be seen whether he will continue strong support for the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) as Obama has done. Russia has recently sought strengthened relations with Haftar and the eastern government.