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Opération Harmattan

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Title: Opération Harmattan  
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Subject: Operation Unified Protector, Operation Mobile, Operation Ellamy, Libyan Civil War (2011), Second Battle of Benghazi
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Opération Harmattan

Opération Harmattan
Part of 2011 military intervention in Libya

Remains of three Palmaria heavy howitzers of the Gaddafi forces destroyed by French airplanes at the south-western outskirts of Benghazi on 19 March 2011
Date 19 March 2011 – 31 March 2011
Location Libya
Result Decisive French and NATO Victory/Effective no-fly zone established,[1]
Operations handed over to NATO Operation Unified Protector
 France  Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Commanders and leaders
Nicolas Sarkozy
François Fillon
Édouard Guillaud
Jean-Paul Paloméros
Pierre-François Forissier
Muammar Gaddafi
(De facto Commander-in-Chief)

Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr 
(Minister of Defense)

Khamis al-Gaddafi 
(Khamis Brigade Commander)

Ali Sharif al-Rifi
(Air Force Commander)
See deployed forces See Libyan Armed Forces
Casualties and losses
None Multiple tanks, aircraft, artillery units and ground targets destroyed
Unknown, unverified claim by Gaddafi-controlled Libyan state media of 48 civilians killed, 150 wounded as a result of all UN operations[2]
40 civilians killed (in Tripoli; Vatican claim)[3]

Opération Harmattan is the codename for the French participation in the 2011 military intervention in Libya.[4] It is named for the Harmattan, which are hot dry winds that blow over the Sahara, mostly between November and March.[5] The United States' counterpart to this is Operation Odyssey Dawn, the Canadian counterpart is Operation Mobile and the British counterpart is Operation Ellamy. The no-fly zone was proposed during the Libyan Civil War to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on Anti-Gaddafi forces. Several countries prepared to take immediate military action at a conference in Paris on 19 March 2011.[6]

French Dassault Rafale planes began reconnaissance missions on 19 March and were the first among the coalition to attack Libyan forces, destroying four tanks.[7]

Deployed forces

Summary of action

Day 1: 19 March

BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher of the Libyan army, destroyed during the first attack wave on March 19.

The French Navy anti-air destroyer Forbin and anti-air frigate Jean Bart were already off Libya when the operation commenced.

The French Air Force deployed in its first strike force eight Rafale fighters, two Mirage 2000-5 fighters and two Mirage 2000D fighter-bombers supported by other aircraft listed above.[18]

Eight Rafale fighters patrolled the skies over Benghazi to prohibit the advance of Libyan ground forces. One opened fire on Libyan military vehicles at 16:45 local time. The Telegraph reported four Libyan tanks destroyed by French aircraft southwest of Benghazi.[7]

Aircraft returning from combat missions landed at Solenzara Air Base on Corsica from which further combat sorties were launched.[19]

Day 2: 20 March

Eleven sorties were carried out by French aircraft over Libya.[19]

Task Force 473, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its battle group, sailed from Toulon.[19]

Day 3: 21 March

Up to this day, 55 sorties were carried out by French aircraft over Libya.[20] The French Ministry of Defence (MoD) claimed a Mirage 2000-D destroyed another Libyan tank 100 km south of Benghazi.[21]

Day 4: 22 March

Aircraft from Charles de Gaulle began operations over Libya, commencing with Rafale F3s conducting reconnaissance and patrols.[13] Forbin and Jean Bart, which were already on station off Libya, joined Task Force 473.[13] The number of combat aircraft forward deployed at Air Base 126 Solenzara was increased to 20 with the arrival of two more Mirage 2000-5 and two more Mirage 2000D, with support aircraft operating out of Saint-Dizier and Avord.[22]

Day 5: 23 March

Rafale and Mirage 2000D aircraft from Solenzara and Rafale and Super Etendard aircraft from the Charles de Gaulle conducted reconnaissance and support sorties over Libya.[23]

Day 6: 24 March

Rafale and Mirage 2000D aircraft attacked a Libyan air base, 250 kilometres (160 mi) inland from the Mediterranean Sea, with SCALP GP missiles.[24] Rafale, Mirage 2000D and Super Etendard aircraft flew four joint interdiction missions against Libyan ground forces.[25] A Rafale destroyed a Libyan Soko G-2 Galeb light attack jet with an AASM air-to-surface missile as it landed at Misrata.[25][26] A patrol of two Mirage 2000Ds, equipped with GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, attacked loyalist artillery near Ajdabiyah.[27]

Day 7: 25 March

Qatari aircraft attached to Operation Odyssey Dawn and French aircraft conducted joint reconnaissance sorties in the regions of Misrata, Zintan, Sirte and Ajdabiyah. Four Mirage 2000Ds conducted interdiction missions against loyalist artillery near Ajdabiyah. Two French and two Qatari Mirage 2000-5s conducted air interdiction missions.[27] Three French Mirage 2000-5s were moved from Solenzara to Souda Air Base on Crete.[27]

Day 8: 26 March

French aircraft carried out several air strikes around Zintan and Misrata, destroying at least five Soko G-2 Galeb light attack jets and two Mi-35 helicopters on the ground. French and Qatari Mirage 2000-5s continued joint reconnaissance sorties from Souda Air Base.[28]

Day 9: 27 March

Air Force and Navy Rafales attacked a command centre south of Tripoli. French and Qatari Mirage 2000-5s conducted joint patrols and air interdiction missions from Souda Air Base. The number of French Mirage 2000-5s based as Souda was increased to four.[29]

Day 10: 28 March

Air operations were planned to focus on the region around Zintan and Misrata.[29] Air force Rafales and Mirage 2000Ds and a joint patrol of Navy Rafales and Super Etendards bombed an ammunition dump at Gharyan, 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Tripoli.[9] Mirage F1CRs conducted reconnaissance missions for the first time in the operation.[9]

Day 11: 29 March

Two patrols of Air Force Rafales and Mirage 2000Ds and a patrol of Navy Rafales and Super Etendards attacked anti-aircraft missile sites 100 kilometres (62 mi) south west of Tripoli. Two joint patrols of French and Qatari Mirage 2000-5s conducted air interdiction sorties.[9] Mirage 2000Ds and Super Etendards bombed a military depot 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Tripoli.[30]

Day 12: 30 March

A joint strike force of Air Force Rafales and Mirage 2000Ds and Navy Rafales and Super Etendards attacked anti-aircraft missile sites 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Sirte. A patrol of two French and four Qatari Mirage 2000-5s conducted air interdiction sorties.[30]

Day 13: 31 March

At 0600 GMT, NATO took command of all operations in Libya. Subsequent operations were conducted as part of Operation Unified Protector.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Cohen, Tom (20 March 2011). "Mullen: No-fly zone effectively in place in Libya". CNN. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "Gaddafi denounces foreign intervention".  
  3. ^ "Vatican: Airstrikes killed 40 civilians in Tripoli". 31 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "French Ministry of Defense declaration". Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Harmattan". Encyclopedua Britannica. 
  6. ^ Judd, Terri (19 March 2011). "Operation Ellamy: Designed to strike from air and sea". London: The Independent. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Freeman, Colin (2011-03-11). "Libya: British forces fire missiles at Gaddafi". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  8. ^ a b "France Deploys About 20 Aircraft to Enforce Libya No-Fly Zone". Defense News. 19 March 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Libye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°11". French Ministry of Defense. 29 March 2011. 
  10. ^ "Libye : Des Mirage F1 CR entrent en piste". Zone Militaire. 29 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Libye : la base aérienne de Solenzara sous haute protection". French Ministry of Defense. 28 March 2011. 
  12. ^ "Libye : appareillage du porte-avions Charles de Gaulle". French Ministry of Defense. 20 March 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c "Libye : première mission aérienne pour la TF 473". French Ministry of Defense. 22 March 2011. 
  14. ^ French Destroyer Forbin Joins Kearsarge ESG | United States Africa Command. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  15. ^ "La frégate Jean de Vienne reçoit la croix de la valeur militaire" (in French). MeretMarine. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "L’opération Harmattan". French Ministry of Defense. 26 March 2011. 
  17. ^ "French nuclear submarine arrives in Malta". Malta Independent. 30 March 2011. 
  18. ^ "Opération Harmattan, le nom de code militaire pour la Libye". Secret défense. 19 March 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c "Libye : poursuite des opérations". French Ministry of Defense. 20 March 2011. 
  20. ^ Libye : DĂŠjĂ 55 sorties pour les avions de l’armĂŠe de l’Air | Zone Militaire
  21. ^ Le Figaro - Flash Actu : L'aviation française a détruit un blindé
  22. ^ "Libye : l’opération Harmattan marquée par l’engagement de la TF473 et la montée en puissance de la BA 126". French Ministry of Defense. 22 March 2011. 
  23. ^ "Libye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°5". French Ministry of Defense. 23 March 2011. 
  24. ^ "French planes hit Libyan base in overnight raid: France". Agence France-Presse. 24 March 2011. 
  25. ^ a b "ibye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°6". French Ministry of Defense. 24 March 2011. 
  26. ^ "French fighter destroys Libya military jet: France". Agence France-Presse. 24 March 2011. 
  27. ^ a b c "Libye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°7". French Ministry of Defense. 25 March 2011. 
  28. ^ "Libye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°8". French Ministry of Defense. 26 March 2011. 
  29. ^ a b "Libye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°10". French Ministry of Defense. 27 March 2011. 
  30. ^ a b "Libye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°12". French Ministry of Defense. 30 March 2011. 
  31. ^ "Libye : point de situation opération Harmattan n°13". French Ministry of Defense. 31 March 2011. 

External links

  • Official site of the French Ministry of Defense about Opération Harmattan
  • Unofficial page about aircraft involved in Operation Harmattan
  • Unofficial page about warships involved in Operation Harmattan
  • Unofficial page about CVN Charles de Gaulle in Operation Harmattan
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