Coalition aircraft have flown more than 5,000 sorties since NATO began its Operation Unified Protector campaign on 31 March to protect Libyan civilians, the alliance has confirmed.

In its latest daily operations update, NATO said the total number of missions flown has now reached almost 5,050, including 161 conducted on 3 May.

NATO has classed over 2,040 of the sorties to date - 40% of the total flown - as having been offensive in nature. "Strike sorties are intended to identify and engage appropriate targets, but do not necessarily deploy munitions each time," it said.

The number of such missions performed in the last 24h period was 62, it added. Key targets included ammunition storage sites near Misrata, Tripoli and Zintan, plus armoured fighting vehicles, main battle tanks and rocket launchers at various locations also including Ras Lanuf and Sirte.

 Dutch F-16 - NATO

In addition to those partner nations that have committed aircraft for offensive operations over Libya to restrict the movement of ground forces loyal to leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, Unified Protector also has assets assigned to enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone imposed over the country.

Nations involved in the NATO air operation include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands (F-16 pictured above), Norway, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the USA.

Source: Flight International