In total, more than 20 designated Libyan targets were struck. Batteries of Libyan surface-to-air missiles were destroyed. The military communication network, crucial to Gaddafi's ability to maintain the momentum of his offensive, was severely disrupted. The Pentagon dubbed the offensive Operation Odyssey Dawn, confirming that the intention of the bombardment was to open up airspace for a second wave of strikes by ground-attack aircraft.
The battle to save the Libyan revolution, authorised by the UN security council resolution on Thursday night, has begun. State of the art 21st-century weaponry is being pitted against tanks, guns and missiles from the cold war era. Knocking out Gaddafi's command structure and jamming his military communication networks is likely to happen quickly. Libya's air defence system is considered antiquated, comparable to the Soviet systems that international forces faced during the Gulf war of 1991, and the Balkans conflict.
In fact, much of Gaddafi's weapons stock is Soviet-era with his air force thought to include up to 80 operational aircraft based around the MiG-23, which was phased out of Russian service 17 years ago. Ground forces rely on Soviet-era weaponry including T-72 tanks that entered production 40 years ago...
Ahead of the operation, a formidable array of firepower was positioned around Libya. In terms of airpower alone, hundreds of jet fighters were placed within easy reach of the North African state. The squadrons included F-16s, used on bombing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the G4 Tornado ground attack aircraft which forged its reputation attacking Iraqi military sites and runways with smart bombs during the Gulf war.
Most of the jet fighters are stationed in southern Italy. The vast US base at Gaeta is less than 600 miles from Benghazi. Six Danish F-16s landed at the base in Sigonella, Sicily, and will be ready for operations on Sunday. France has deployed around 100 warplanes, mainly Rafale and Mirage 2000 jets. Its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will head toward the Libyan coast . Six Canadian CF-18 fighter jets have arrived in Italy.