Operation Mobile

Operation Mobile (French: Opération Mobile) was the name given to Canadian Forces activities in the 2011 military intervention in Libya.[3] The United States' counterpart to this was Operation Odyssey Dawn, the French counterpart was Opération Harmattan and the British counterpart was Operation Ellamy. The no-fly zone was proposed during the Libyan Civil War to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on anti-Gaddafi forces and civilians. The demonstrations in Libya were part of the larger Arab Spring movement that began in the country of Tunisia on 18 December 2010. When demonstrations began in Libya, the government of Muammar Gaddafi responded with systematic attacks by air and ground forces, and repression of the protesters. In a speech, Gaddafi promised to chase down the protesters and cleanse the country "house by house". Several countries prepared to take immediate military action at a conference in Paris on 19 March.[4]

Operation Mobile
Part of 2011 military intervention in Libya

Two CF-18s refuelling over Libya, 2011
Date19 March – 1 November 2011

Decisive Canadian victory

 Canada Libya
Commanders and leaders
Elizabeth II
Stephen Harper
Peter MacKay
Charles Bouchard
Walter Natynczyk
André Deschamps
Muammar Gaddafi 
Abu-Bakr Jabr 
Khamis Gaddafi 
Ali Sharif al-Rifi
Units involved
 Canadian Armed Forces Armed Forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
See deployed forces. 655 personnel at its peak.[2] Unknown
Casualties and losses
None Unknown

The no-fly zone was enforced by NATO's Operation Unified Protector.[5] NATO took sole command of all operations in Libya from 06:00 GMT on 31 March, which effectively ended the U.S. Operation Odyssey Dawn, as all U.S. operations were absorbed into NATO's Unified Protector.[6] The Canadian contribution continued to fall under Operation Mobile, which ceased activities on 1 November 2011.[7]

Canadian Forces

Royal Canadian Navy

On 1 March, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that HMCS Charlottetown would deploy from Halifax on 2 March to take part in Canadian and international operations already under way in Libya. Charlottetown departed CFB Halifax, and joined the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 on 14 March, and arrived on station on 17 March.[8]

HMCS Charlottetown is a Halifax-class frigate under the command of Commander Craig Skjerpen with a crew of about 240 officers and sailors, and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment. With the other ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, HMCS Charlottetown was engaged in regional maritime security operations in the central Mediterranean Sea. On 18 August, HMCS Vancouver took the place of HMCS Charlottetown for the remainder of the NATO mission in Libya. HMCS Charlottetown returned to Canada on 2 September.

Royal Canadian Air Force

Task Force Libeccio was the air detachment participating in the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Libya authorized by Resolution 1973, adopted by the U.N. Security Council on 17 March. The task force was named for the strong southwesterly wind that blows all year in the Mediterranean Sea. Task Force Libeccio comprised six CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft, two Boeing CC-177 Globemasters, two CP-140 Auroras and about 200 Canadian Forces personnel, including aircrews and ground technicians from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing CFB Bagotville and 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing CFB Cold Lake and other locations across Canada. The force also included two CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refuelling detachment from 437 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario.[3] Task Force Libeccio reached the region on 18 March.[9]

CF-18 Hornets and CC-150 Polaris assets were based at Trapani-Birgi airbase in Sicily, Italy.

CP-140 Aurora aircraft were based at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy.

Trapani Detachment:

  • Seven CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft (three pairs and a spare) from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron and 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta;
  • two CC-150 Polaris tanker from 437 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, and
  • two CC-130H Hercules airlifters/air-to-air refuellers from 435 Transport Squadron at 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba; and
  • The Mission Support Flight.

Sigonella Detachment:

  • Two CP-140 Aurora aircraft, one from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and the other from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia.

as of 05:30 GMT, 25 October 2011

Sorties to date

  • CF-188 Hornet fighters 946
  • CC-150 Polaris tankers 250
  • CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft 181
  • CC-130J Hercules airlifters 23
  • CC-130 Hercules tankers 139

Deployed forces

An additional six CF-18s were placed on standby in Canada, ready to deploy immediately if called upon.[13]

Summary of action

  • 21 March: Start of Operations

Four CF-18 fighters and two CC-150 Polaris refuellers operating from Trapani-Birgi Airport flew their first mission in Libya on 21 March, acting as armed escorts to coalition jets conducting bombings. Canada expected to take part in bombings as soon as the following night.[13] HMCS Charlottetown also began patrolling the waters north of Libya in order to help to enforce a NATO blockade of Libya.[14]

Defence Minister Peter MacKay stated that another six CF-18 fighter jets are on standby to deploy if needed.[15]

  • 22 March

Two CF-18s again flew missions on Tuesday, 22 March. However they had to abandon their planned attack on a Gaddafi Libyan airfield as the high possibility of collateral damage was against the strict rules of engagement.[16] For a second day a CC-150 tanker refuelled Canadian aircraft as well as other coalition aircraft.[17]

  • 23 March

The third day marked the first time Canadian jets bombed Libya since the campaign began. This occurred as four CF-18s flew two missions against an ammunition depot in Misrata, dropping four 227 kg (500-pound) laser-guided bombs,[18] and supported by two CC-150 Polaris tankers.[19]

In other developments, Commodore John Newton, of the Royal Canadian Navy stated that the crew of HMCS Charlottetown were prepared to conduct boarding operations and had been training for search and rescue of downed pilots.[20]

  • 24 March

Two CF-18s flew two air interdiction patrols over Libyan airspace. A CC-150 Polaris took part of the operations providing fuel for Canadian and other coalition aircraft.[21] Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Canada would send two CP-140 Auroras to provide maritime surveillance in support of the United Nations arms embargo against Libya.[22] The Canadian Forces deployed 80 personnel from 14 Wing Greenwood and 19 Wing Comox.

  • 25 March

Two CF-18s conducted one sortie and released several precision-guided munitions against electronic warfare sites near Misrata.[23] Two CC-150 also took part of operation and refuelled both Canadian and coalition aircraft.[23] HMCS Charlottetown patrolled the north of Libya and investigated a vessel in distress.[23]

  • 27 March

A second ammunition depot, this time located 92 kilometres (57 mi) south of Misrata, was destroyed in an operation by four CF-18s utilizing 227 kg (500-pound) laser-guided bombs; in addition CF-18s coordinated other attacks involving up to 20 other coalition aircraft. Enforcing the arms embargo a CP-140A Aurora flew the first Canadian Maritime Patrol mission.[24]

  • 29 March

Two CF-18s help the rebels by attacking targets in Misrata.[25] Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft began around this time, a psychological warfare operation over Libya using airborne leaflet propaganda and radio transmissions.[26] The broadcast of propaganda messages over Libyan territory led to the Gaddafi regime trying to jam the transmissions via electronic warfare.[27]

  • 31 March

From 08:00 EET, NATO took sole command of air operations over Libya under Operation Unified Protector, taking over from U.S. Africa Command.[6][28][29]

  • 21 April

Pilots flew more than 100 missions over Libya since the beginning of Operation Mobile. During the past week they were deployed 38 times. They attacked armoured vehicles, ammunition depots, and mobile rocket launchers.[30]

  • 13 May

HMCS Charlottetown was involved in a naval battle near the port city of Misrata. Charlettetown was conducting patrols at around 2 a.m. local time with other Allied warships when a number of fast, small boats launched an attack. No warships sustained any damage.[31][32][33]

This was the first time since the Korean War that a Canadian warship was involved in a naval battle.[34]

  • 19 May

Canadian pilots participated in NATO air strikes that destroyed eight Libyan warships. HMCS Charlottetown also participated in the operation.[35]

  • 27 May

Canadian pilots dropped 240 laser-guided bombs on Libyan targets since 31 March.[36]

  • 2 June

On Monday morning, HMCS Charlottetown came under heavy fire. The Libyan army had deployed a dozen BM21 launch vehicles at the port city of Misrata and opened fire on the Canadian warship. Charlottetown did not return fire and did not sustain damage.[37]

  • 16 June

During the preceding week throughout four days CF-18s destroyed armoured vehicles, field headquarters, ammunition depots and command-and-control structures with laser-guided bombs. During the same week, CF-18s were recalled to one target because the laser-targeting system on an allied jet failed.[38][39]

  • 10 July

HMCS Vancouver under the command of Commander Bradly Peats, with 225 crew members and a detachment from 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, departed CFB Esquimalt en route to the Mediterranean Sea to relieve HMCS Charlottetown, which had been on station off the Libyan coast since March.[40]

  • 29 July

Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft started a psychological warfare operation over Libya.[26] The surveillance aircraft started broadcasting propaganda messages over Libyan territory while the Gaddafi regime has tried to jam the transmissions using electronic warfare.[41]

  • 18 August

A change of command ceremony was held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where HMCS Vancouver officially relieved HMCS Charlottetown. The ceremony officially marked that Task Force Charlottetown became Task Force Vancouver, and the Task Force command was transferred from Commander Craig Skjerpen to Commander Bradley Peats.[42]

  • 1 November

Operation Mobile officially ceased operations and began mission closure activities.

See also


  1. Cohen, Tom (20 March 2011). "Mullen: No-fly zone effectively in place in Libya". CNN. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  2. "Operation MOBILE". 22 July 2013.
  3. "Operation MOBILE". DND, 21 March 2011. Archived from the original on 9 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  4. Judd, Terri (19 March 2011). "Operation Ellamy: Designed to strike from air and sea". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022.
  5. "NATO No-Fly Zone over Libya Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR" (PDF). NATO. 25 March 2011.
  6. "NATO Press Briefing". NATO. 31 March 2011.
  7. "Operation MOBILE: National Defence and Canadian Forces Response to the Situation in Libya". National Defense and the Canadian Forces. 13 January 2012. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  8. "Canadian warship departs for Libya". Canada Yahoo News. 2 March 2011. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  9. "Harper: Libya air mission poses risks". CBC News. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  10. "Update on CF Operations in Libya." Canadian Forces, 22 March 2011.
  11. "Canadian patrol planes to join Libya mission". CBC. 24 March 2011.
  12. Cohen, Tobi. "Canadian warship en route, JTF2 sent to Libya." Archived 9 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine The Ottawa Citizen, 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  13. "Libyan mission a 'moral duty,' MacKay says". CBC Canada. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  14. "HMCS Charlottetown patrols off Libya". CBC News. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  15. Campion-Smith, Bruce (21 March 2011). "Canadian fighter jets fly first mission in Libyan no-fly zone". The Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  16. "Canadian fighters abandon planned attack on Libyan airfield". Canada Yahoo News. 22 March 2011. Archived from the original on 26 March 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  17. "Anti-aircraft fire booms in Tripoli". CBC New. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  18. "Canadian jets bomb Libyan target in first attack". The Globe and Mail. 23 March 2011.
  19. "Canadian jets target Libyan ammunition depot". CBC News. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  20. Brewster, Murray (23 March 2011). "Canadian CF-18s bomb Libyan ammunition depot". The Toronto Star. Toronto. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  21. "Operation MOBILE: National Defence and Canadian Forces Response to the Situation in Libya". Department of National Defence. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  22. "Canada sending two aircraft to aid Libya mission". CBC News. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  23. "Canada sending 2 aircraft to aid Libya mission". Department of National Defence. 25 March 2011.
  24. "Libyan rebels advance on Gadhafi's hometown". CBC News. 28 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  25. "Libyan rebels retreat to Brega". CBC News. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  26. "Le Canada s'associe à une opération de propagande en Libye". Radio-Canada (in French). 29 July 2011.
  27. Brewster, Murray (29 July 2011). "Canadians join war of words in Libya". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  28. "US Navy P-3C, USAF A-10 and USS Barry Engage Libyan Vessels". Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn Public Affairs. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  29. "NATO Assumes Command of Libya Operations". Department of Defense. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 6 April 2011.
  30. Weese, Bryn (21 April 2011). "Canadian fighter jets attack Libyan targets". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  31. Wright, Peter (13 May 2011). "HMCS Charlottetown involved in battle". The Chronicle Herald.
  32. Hoare, Eva (13 May 2011). "Canadian ship fends off attack by Libyan boats". Winnipeg Free Press.
  33. "Canadian ship returns fire at Libyan forces". CBC. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  34. "International Operations: A shot in the dark". Department of National Defence. 13 May 2011. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  35. "Des CF-18 frappent des navires libyens" (in French). TVA nouvelles. 19 May 2011.
  36. "PM wants Libyan mission extended". CBC. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  37. "Rockets fired at Canadian frigate off Libya". Global News. 3 June 2011.
  38. "Canadian jet fighters join NATO raids on Tripoli, target armoured vehicles". Winnipeg Free press. June 2011.
  39. "Les CF-18 canadiens ont bombardé Tripoli". Radio-Canada (in French). 16 June 2011.
  40. "HMCS Vancouver Departs for the Coast of Libya". Department of National Defence. 7 July 2011. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  41. "Canadians join war of words in Libya". The Chronicle Herald. 29 July 2011.
  42. "HMCS Vancouver Relieves HMCS Charlottetown Continuing Canada's Efforts Against Libyan Regime". Department of National Defence. 18 August 2011. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011.

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