In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

NATO strikes radar system at Tripoli airport

Posted by seumasach on July 20, 2011

Some journalists at the NATO press conference don’t believe the story that the destroyed antenna isn’t necessary for civilian purposes i.e. humanitarian missions which NATO claims it is facilitating:

Q: Yes, Brooks Tigner, Jane’s Defence. Just a small technical question on this air tower. If it was a key antenna site I assume there must be other back-up antenna for civilian landing purposes. If not, how are these aircraft being guided? Are you using the AWACS to guide them into the Tripoli airport, or what? Thank you.

Colonel Roland Lavoie: Actually, that antenna is not required to allow the landing of aircraft because its function was to track the air traffic from a distance. So it’s not to provide landing assistance at all. You raise an important point, however, in terms of backups. It is of use that there’s always the possibilities that some specific targets that we may engage could eventually be repaired and this is the reason why we constantly monitor with sophisticated intelligence airborne means the situation. And sometimes we have to revisit specific military targets to ensure that they are not repaired or reactivated.

Does this answer your question?

Oana Lungescu:I think it does. AP. Can you… Pascal, could you possibly just turn that off. Merci.

Q: Yes, Colonel, Slobo Lekic from the Associated Press. I used to be a commercial pilot. I have to say I’m surprised to find out that air traffic control doesn’t use radars to guide planes and to clear them for landing. As far as I know it’s routine procedure, especially when there are several plains in holding pattern over the airport and in conditions of low visibility to use the radar to keep a safe distance between the planes and both horizontally and vertically and to clear them for the final approach.

So, I have to say I’m very surprised that you would say that the radar isn’t necessary. I don’t know any traffic controller who would agree with you.

Colonel Roland Lavoie: Thank you for the question. The Triopli airport still has the ability to control the landing of aircraft, so I will not go into the details of that specific target, but I could assure you that air traffic, especially the air traffic that is authorized and legitimate, will in no way be prevented from landing in Tripoli as a result of that engagement.

And as I mentioned, no later than yesterday, just a few hours after that target was hit, there was a successful, of course, and safe landing of a humanitarian aid aircraft.

People’s Daily

19th July, 2011

NATO forces destroyed on Monday an antenna radar system at Tripoli’s main airport, which was being used solely for military purposes, the military alliance said.

“The antenna, which was previously used for civilian air traffic control, was being used by pro-Gaddafi forces to track NATO air assets in the airspace over Tripoli and to coordinate their own air defense early warning system,” NATO said in a statement.

“This information was provided to the pro-Gaddafi forces with the intent of coordinating their tactical operations against NATO air assets and Libyan civilians,” the statement said.

According to the statement, NATO will continue to “control Libyan airspace in order to ensure the safe entrance of all legitimate humanitarian or diplomatic flights entering Libya.”

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