The PJ Tatler

Mission creep: US lends close air support to Libyan rebels

From Tomahawks and enforcing a no-fly zone to deploying tank killers.

For the Americans, six tank-killing A-10 Warthogs that fire laser-guided Maverick missiles or 30-millimeter cannons arrived on the scene this weekend. The United States also deployed two B-1B bombers, as well as two AC-130 gunships, lumbering aircraft that orbit over targets at roughly 15,000 feet, bristling with 40-millimeter and 105-millimeter cannons. The gunships’ weapons are so precise that they could operate against Libyan forces in cities, which so far have been off limits for fear of civilian casualties.

The A-10 (my second favorite weapon in the Air Force arsenal, after the B-2) is basically a very lethal flying tank. They’re very Hobbesian weapons — they make the lives of America’s enemies nasty, brutish and short. Or, at least, short.

Deploying the Warthogs and Spectres suggests that we’re coordinating our actions more closely with the Libyan rebels. Or that we plan to in the very near future.