Nato Helicopter
An Alouette helicopter flies alongside France's flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier March 26, 2011. The Charles de Gaulle ran 47 air sorties against targets in Libya as France participates in the NATO no fly zone. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The first ever helicopter attacks were employed by NATO to hit targets in Libya on Saturday, an alliance statement said.

Without giving any information on the location of the strikes, the statement said The targets struck included military vehicles, military equipment and fielded forces.

Last month, France and Britain had announced their plans to contribute attack helicopters to Nato to step up pressure in an air war against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces launched in March.

Britain's Sky News said that the attacks were carried out by British Apache helicopters from HMS Ocean on the town of Brega in eastern Libya, a site of important oil facilities. According to the report, the attacks targeted two locations and also an armored vehicle at a checkpoint.

NATO, in a statement released said that the use of attack helicopters provided increased flexibility to track and attack pro-Gaddafi forces attempting to hide in populated areas.

Military analysts had warned almost a month back that given the vulnerability of helicopters to ground fire, it also greatly increases the risk of Western forces suffering their first casualties of the campaign.

The commander of NATO's Libya force, Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, said the first engagement had been successful and shown the unique capabilities of attack helicopters.We will continue to use these assets whenever and wherever needed, he said.

Military analysts say attack helicopters will allow more precise strikes against forces in built-up areas than high-flying jets used until now, while reducing the risk of civilian casualties.

NATO has said their deployment would not presage the deployment of ground forces in Libya, which Western countries have ruled out, the report stated.