Britain's Libya campaign to cost £260 million: minister

23rd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's military operation in Libya will cost around £260 million, Defence Secretary Liam Fox revealed Thursday, after the government had said in March the cost would only be in the tens of millions.

The estimated cost of Britain's role in the six-month campaign of air strikes against Moamer Kadhafi's forces was "in the region of £120 million", Fox said in a written statement to lawmakers.

An additional £140 million would have to be spent to replace missiles and other munitions if the mission continued at the same rate, he said.

The total cost of $416 million (292 million euros) could prove an embarrassment to the government.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said at the start of the campaign that it would cost "in the order of the tens of millions not the hundreds of millions of pounds."

The cost is being met from government reserves, rather than normal budgets, at a time when Cameron's government has imposed deep cuts to public spending, including the defence budget, as it seeks to slash a record deficit.

Some experts anticipate the cost of the Libyan campaign could rise to £1 billion if raids drag on throughout the year.

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted this week that British forces can maintain the current level of operations in Libya despite concerns raised by senior military figures.

Britain deployed Apache attack helicopters over Libya this month in an attempt to use their formidable firepower to break the stalemate in the fight between rebels and Kadhafi's forces.

Royal Air Force Typhoon and Tornado aircraft have conducted hundreds of bombing missions over Libya along with aircraft from the United States and France.

The British military is also heavily engaged in Afghanistan, where it has 9,500 troops in the south of the country.

© 2011 AFP

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