On Monday, March 21, Task Force Libeccio conducted its first mission.
“This morning four CF-18 fighter aircraft and two CC-150 Polaris strategic air [-to-air] refuellers departed Trapani, Italy and conducted patrols off the northern coast of Libya,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay on Monday. “These jets did not fire upon any targets.”
Named for the strong southwesterly wind that blows all year in the Mediterranean, Task Force Libeccio – part of Operation Mobile - is the air detachment participating in the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Libya authorized by Resolution 1973, adopted by the U.N. Security Council on March 17, 2011.
“Following resolution 1973 our government directed that six CF-18 fighter aircraft deploy to Italy along with 140 Canadian Forces personnel to assist our allied effort in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libyan territory,” said Minister MacKay.
Under the command of Colonel Alain Pelletier, Task Force Libeccio is flying from the NATO forward operating base co-located with Vincenzo Florio Airport in Trapani, Italy. The Task Force includes a “six-pack” of CF-18 Hornets from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, and a CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refuelling detachment from 437 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, as well as aircrew, ground technicians and logisticians from 3 Wing, 8 Wing and other locations across Canada.
“This morning’s mission involved the use of our CF-18s in a defensive counter-air role,” said Major-General Tom Lawson, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff.
“Their purpose was to achieve air superiority in support of the mission. This means not only protecting coalition aircraft but also protecting coalition ships engaged in enforcing the embargo. Also, our fighters bring a significant capability to deliver air-to-surface weaponry as required to support the mission.
“Our crews are highly trained in the use of precision-guided munitions. However, having said that, the risk in deploying air-to-ground munitions in such a fluid environment is real. Our aircrews understand this and they’re well aware of the need to positively identify potential targets…. To be clear we will aim for no collateral damage.
“Having completed our first mission, Canada’s Air Force is clearly an engaged and valued part of the coalition,” he said.