French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said France and Britain would deploy attack helicopters in Libya to achieve more accurate strikes on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces, a Reuters report said on Monday.
However, British officials declined to confirm to his comments that Britain would deploy helicopters from its assault ship HMS Ocean.
Since two months of Western bombardment of Libya using high-flying fixed-wing planes is on. It has damaged Gaddafi's forces, but not enough to break a military impasse three months into an uprising against his four-decade rule.
Deploying helicopters would make it easier for the forces to avoid civilian casualties but they will also be more vulnerable to ground fire.
The French daily Le Figaro reported that 12 helicopters had been shipped to Libya on the French helicopter carrier Tonnerre.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said at a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels that a decision had been taken to this effect and the move was in line with a U.N. mandate to protect civilians, which has been taken as the basis for NATO's military operations, Reuters report stated.
What we want is to better tailor our ability to strike on the ground with ways that allow more accurate hits, he said. The British, who have resources comparable to ours, will do the same thing as us, he added.
He also mentioned that the landing ship HMS Ocean, currently off Gibraltar, would be used for this purpose. Britain's Sky News quoted sources saying that Britain would send 12 Apache helicopters to the Libyan coast however, Ministry of Defence spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report.
So sometimes what we do in response, the assets which we use in response, our own tactics in response, do also have to change, said British Foreign Secretary William Hague declining specific comment, while speaking in London at a news conference U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.