Libyan conflict:

Gaddafi's air force 'destroyed' by coalition

The international coalition has wiped out Muammar Gaddafi's air force and no RAF planes have come under Libyan attack during the operation, a senior commander said today.

RAF Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell said the allied forces had "taken away (Mr Gaddafi's) eyes and ears" and "destroyed the majority of his air force".



Speaking at the southern Italian air base of Gioia del Colle, where the RAF fighter pilots are based, he said: "Effectively, their air force no longer exists as a fighting force and his integrated air defence system and command and control networks are severely degraded to the point that we can operate with near impunity across Libya."



The destruction of Gaddafi's capabilities was carried out by a combination of bombs and missiles dropped from aircraft and sea missiles.



RAF jets, which continue to patrol the no-fly zone over the north African country, have so far remained unscathed by the action.



"I don't know what he's shooting at but he can't hit us," AVM Bagwell said of the Libyan leader.



In the four days since the allied mission swung into action, the operation has progressed from long-range strikes against key military targets in Libya to one of enforcement of the no-fly zone.



The coalition partners say they are watching over the "innocent people of Libya" and protecting them from attack.



But there are also still targets "in various places," AVM Bagwell said.



"We have the Libyan ground forces under constant observation and we attack them whenever they threaten or attack civilians or population centres," he added.



And he hinted that the British fighters expect to be in it for some time yet.



Asked about how long the mission might last, he said: "You'll have to ask Colonel Gaddafi how long he wants to go on for but we're here for the long term."



The seven international partners have achieved in days what would have previously taken months or years, he added, praising the "Herculean effort" of the RAF men and women taking part in the operation.



"Our people in the air and on the ground, deployed and home-based, military or civil service, have been the inspiration and the engine behind this operation," he said.



"Their ingenuity, hard work, courage and spirit have been ever present."



AVM Bagwell visited the Italian compound this afternoon to pay a brief visit to the RAF members stationed there.



Four RAF Tornados and three Typhoons have flown off from the base today.









Despite the crippling of his defences, a defiant Gaddafi has promised victory over the coalition.



In a televised address last night, he said: "In the short term, we'll beat them. In the long term, we'll beat them."



He declared that the attacks breached the United Nations charter and had been carried out "by a bunch of fascists".



This came as US president Barack Obama agreed with Prime Minister David Cameron that Nato should play a key role in the allied enforcement of the UN mandate.



The alliance has agreed to lead efforts to ensure an arms embargo is observed and has drawn up plans "if needed" to take charge of the no-fly zone.



Nato ambassadors meeting in Brussels have so far failed to agree whether it should take over when the United States relinquishes command in the next few days.



Meanwhile, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton told ABC News that she understood people close to Gaddafi were in touch with other states about the situation.



In an interview, she said: "We've heard about other people close to him reaching out to people that they know around the world, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America, beyond, saying what do we do? How do we get out of this? What happens next?



"I'm not aware that he personally has reached out, but I do know that people, allegedly on his behalf, have been reaching out."

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice