Sunday, March 27, 2011

'US-led no-fly zone on Libya to cost $1bn'

'US-led no-fly zone on Libya to cost $1bn'

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The initial cost of a no-fly zone over Libya is likely to surpass $1 billion if the US-led military operations in the country persist for more than a few months, a report says.

With the Western alliance struggling to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, analysts say the expense for the imposition of the no-fly zone as part of attempts to unseat embattled ruler Muammar Gaddafi was likely to be between $400 million and $800 million, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

According to a new report by Zack Cooper, a senior analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the Western countries participating in the military operations in Libya would have to pay $30 million to $100 million per week in order to have the no-fly zone over the country up and running in a long term.

The first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn had a price tag of over $100 million for the US in missiles alone, according to estimates.

The think-tank, which specializes in US defense policy force planning, and budgets, issued the report as US, British and French fighter jets and submarines continued their shelling of Gaddafi's air defenses with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Two dozen more Tomahawk missiles were launched on Tuesday from US and British submarines, bringing the total number of missiles fired to at least 161 since the onset of military operations last week.

Cooper, meanwhile, estimated that the Tomahawk missiles launched so far by Britain and the United States cost about $200 million.

"We estimated $400 million to $800 million. Between the Tomahawks and other munitions and flight hours and fuel, it's probably going to be somewhere in that... range for the initial cost of suppressing the air defenses," he said.

The figures came into light as many countries within the alliance have sounded stern alarm bells about risks of a protracted war in Libya, pointing to the conflict in Afghanistan, where the US administration is spending more than $9 billion per month.

The US military has no official cost figures yet for the operation, which has been going on less than a week.

Meanwhile, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher warned on Tuesday that America is going broke as the government is fighting three wars simultaneously.

"If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent - the question is when," he said.

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