(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
U.S. Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra Helicopter
The US military has dispatched helicopter gunships to assist in targeting ISIS militants hiding out in the centre of Sirte.
Over the weekend, Marine AH-1W SuperCobra helicopters set out to strike at ISIS targets, according to a US defense official who remains anonymous. Between Friday and Sunday, nine air strikes were launched targeting ISIS fighters and their vehicles, said the US Africa Command.
ISIS fighters are going “to the densest, most built-up part of the city” to hideout, said the US official. The AH-1 helicopter “is a platform that lends itself well to that kind of mission.”
The helicopter gunships operate best when it is given directions from military air controllers with access to the battlefield. The intelligence used by the helicopter gunships to target ISIS in Sirte has come from the Libyan forces fighting on the ground, in addition to the small team of US Special Operations forces in Sirte.
Before the helicopter gunships were deployed, the airstrikes in Sirte were launched by AV-8B Harrier ground attack jets. The difference between the two military aircrafts is the AV-8B launches the bomb while at high altitudes at fast speeds. Whereas the AH-1 helicopter can fly low speed at low altitudes enabling them to shoot targets with more precision. However, flying low speed at low altitudes exposes the AH-1 to attacks from the ground.
The US airstrike campaign started on August 1 and has allowed the Libyan forces to make significant advances on ISIS in Sirte. The Libyan forces say they have reached the final stage of the battle against ISIS.