US, allies discuss munitions supplies for Libya strikes

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Washington is in talks with NATO allies to ensure a sufficient supply of munitions for the Libya bombing campaign, the Pentagon said Tuesday, amid reports of a shortage of precision-guided arms.

European allies have not yet asked the US military to replenish stocks of precision-guided bombs or related munitions, spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said.

"There haven't been any requests yet. There have been discussions about munitions," Lapan said.

"Some of the allies are talking about their munitions stores, their capabilities," he said.

The discussions were "looking forward at, you know, the pace of operations, the munitions that they have, their capacity for procuring more, those types of things," he added.

It was not clear whether the US military could resolve the reported shortage of precision-guided bombs as American munitions do not fit on most French and British warplanes.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Britain, France and some other European countries involved in the air campaign were running low on supplies of precision-guided weapons.

France in particular lacked certain components for the "smart bombs," said a military source from a NATO country.

Britain and France are carrying out about half of the bombing raids in Libya with four other countries -- Belgium, Canada, Denmark and Norway -- conducting the rest.

The United States has resisted calls to return to a frontline role in the intervention after handing control to NATO half way through the first month of the campaign.

Italy said Monday it would join in the UN-mandated air strikes, designed to protect civilians from the forces of Libayn leader Moamer Kadhafi.

While NATO has denied any problem with supplies of munitions, French aircraft reportedly were dropping "inert" or dead bombs on some targets, a French aviation weekly reported.

Using inert bombs had the advantage of reducing the risk of possible civilian casualties in an air strike, Air & Cosmos reported, which did not cite any shortage of precision weapons.

In talks on Tuesday at the Pentagon, Britain's Defence Minister Liam Fox was due to discuss the air war in Libya with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

© 2011 AFP

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