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Britain deploys SAS troops in Libya

Posted by seumasach on March 21, 2011


21st March, 2011

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) highly trained units, known as “Smash” teams, have been commissioning reconnaissance missions inside the North African country to report the location of Libyan airfields, supply routes, radar stations and anti-aircraft defense batteries, the Daily Mailreported.

British defense chiefs have used this intelligence to help RAF Tornado jets and Royal Navy’s submarines in the Mediterranean, HMS Triumph, carry out devastating strikes, the daily said.

A senior defense source confirmed that there are special forces operating in Libya for more than three weeks now and that more could be sent, according to the report.

“You want to have men on the ground doing laser targeting and reconnaissance, gathering intelligence about the situation and updating the target list,” said the source.

“The other point is that if one of our planes gets shot down you have to send people in to get them out,” it added.

The troops on the ground use a process called “painting a target” to pinpoint a site to be attacked. A laser beam from a portable device is bounced off a building or military installation from a few hundred yards.

This is detected by the aircraft or a missile sensor, which then deploys the weapon.

The special forces have also been trying to discover the whereabouts of the Libyan army’s most potent anti-aircraft weapons.

Libya has more than 216 ground-to-air missiles, with the majority deployed around Tripoli.

Despite dating back to the 1980s, the Russian-made SA5A “Gammon” long-range system can fire missiles between 150 and 200 miles, far enough to hit targets across the Mediterranean.

SAS soldiers are also hoping to find arms dumps containing some of Libya’s 400-plus SA-7 “Grail” portable anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles.

Members of the Special Boat Service and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment are also operating behind enemy lines in Libya, special forces sources said.

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