Maintaining Libya No-Fly Zone Has Cost More Than $100 Million So Far

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 21 2011 9:34 AM

Maintaining Libya No-Fly Zone Has Cost More Than $100 Million So Far

Megan Scully brings the data .

[T]he 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. 

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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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 costs, 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.


If that's realistic, then seven weeks of a no fly zone would cost about as much as the funding House Republicans want to strip from Planned Parenthood.

(Photo: The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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