Libya: RAF Jets Sent From Norfolk

RAF Tornado jets have joined in the operation to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

The Military of Defence confirmed Stormshadow missiles were launched from Tornado GR4 fast jets, which flew 3,000 miles from RAF Marham in Norfolk and back.

As part of a co-ordinated strike, misiles - some of them British - were also fired at Libya to knock out their air defence systems at more than 20 coastal locations.

A Royal Navy Trafalgar-class submarine stationed in the Mediterranean took part in the co-ordinated assault, which also involved forces from the US, France, Italy and Canada under the operational control of US Africa Command.

The missiles targeted radar systems and ground-to-air missile sites around the cities of Tripoli and Misrata in what was described as "the first phase of a multi-phase operation".

Shortly afterwards, at least three Tornado jets took off from RAF Marham.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "The fast jets flew 3,000 miles from RAF Marham and back, making this the longest range bombing mission conducted by the RAF since the Falklands conflict.

This operation was supported by VC10 and Tristar air-to-air refuelling aircraft as well as E3D Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft.''

He added: "Our capable and adaptable armed forces are once again displaying their courage and professionalism. This action has provided a strong signal - the international community will not stand by while the Libyan people suffer under the Gaddafi regime.''

It came after the UN ordered a no-fly zone over the country, which authorised "any necessary measures" short of foreign occupation to defend Libyan civilians.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced that British forces had gone into action in a brief statement outside 10 Downing Street.

He described the operation as "necessary, legal and right''.

His thoughts were with British service personnel who were risking their lives to save others, he said.

He added: "We should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people ... I believe we should all be confident that what we are doing is in a just cause and in our nation's interest.''

President Barack Obama, making a visit to Brazil, said the US would contribute its "unique capabilities" to enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone which will be led by its international partners.

Repeating his pledge that no US ground troops will be sent to Libya, Mr Obama said the "limited'' use of force was "not an outcome the US or any of our partners sought''.

However, he added: "We can't stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.''

The Libyan government said many civilians had been injured and called the attacks "barbaric".

MPs will be given the chance to debate and vote on the military action in the House of Commons on Monday.