Marine Gunships Enter the Fight Against the Islamic State in Libya
An article in the Washington Post says that the US is now using helicopter gunships in the fight against ISIS in Sirte.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations, said Marine AH-1W SuperCobra helicopters participated in strikes against the Islamic State over the weekend. According to a U.S. Africa Command release, U.S. forces conducted nine strikes from Friday to Sunday, targeting Islamic State fighting positions and vehicles.
The Islamic State fighters have retreated “to the densest, most built-up part of the city,” the official said. “[The AH-1] is a platform that lends itself well to that kind of mission.”
Until recently, the airstrikes in Sirte have been carried out by fixed-wing aircraft, such as the AV-8B Harrier ground attack jets. Helicopter gunships, such as the Cobra, fly low and slow and are able to attack targets more directly and systematically than, say, a jet that releases a bomb while screeching overhead at hundreds of miles an hour. Yet gunships, flying at low altitude and low speed, are more at risk of getting shot down by ground fire and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, or MANPADS.
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