NATO Tomahawk missiles dropped on Libya total up to $186 million

Posted on: March 21st, 2011 by The American Independent 1 Comment

Image by: Matt MahurinAs of Sunday evening, the number of Tomahawk missiles dropped by NATO forces — mainly from the U.S. thus far — on Libya stands at 124, according to Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, director of the U.S. Joint Staff, and as reported by multiple news outlets.

According to The National Journal, each of those Tomahawk lobbed into Libya as part of “Operation Odyssey Dawn” cost up to $1.5 million:

For the U.S. military, the highest costs come in the form of pricey munitions, fuel for aircraft and combat pay for deployed troops – all factors that will pile up each day U.S. forces remain at the helm of the operation.

On the first day of strikes alone, U.S.-led forces launched from ships stationed off the Libyan coast 112 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million apiece. That is $112 million to $168 million for the first day’s strike in missiles alone. The military will eventually refill its stockpile though those costs could be pushed off for months or more.

With those figures, the 124 Tomahawk missiles have cost up to $186 million.

And as The National Journal also notes, the first day of securing a no-fly zone in Libya cost allies over $100 million:

With U.S. and coalition forces bombarding Libya leader Muammer al-Qaddafi’s forces from the sea and air, the cost for the first day alone of the operation was well over $100 million with the total price tag expected to grow much higher the longer the strikes continue, analysts said.

Operation Odyssey Dawn appears to be focused on creating a limited no-fly zone mostly targeting Tripoli and other areas along the coast, which will require a wide range of military assets.

With allies expected to shoulder some of the bill, the initial stages of taking out Libya’s air defenses could ultimately cost U.S.-led coalition forces between $400 million and $800 million, according to a report released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments earlier this month.

Slate’s Dave Weigel applies that report’s math to a coastal-only no-fly zone over Libya:

The report being referred to is posted here. A lot of the background comes from the cost estimates of the no-fly zone the United States operated over Iraq in the Clinton era. Maintaining it over the whole country cost roughly $1 billion per year; the exception was 1998, when the joint-U.S./U.K. Operation Desert Fox pushed the total cost to $2 billion.

But the cost for Libya tumbles dramatically if the United States just maintains a no fly zone along the coasts, where most of the population, and the fighting, is located. The operation shown in this map, according to the CSBA, would cost between $15 million and $25 million per week.

From The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

(Photo from The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments)

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