And so, as expected, the Apaches are now in action over Libya, and their first-ever strike delivered from a "sea base", in this case HMS Ocean, is now a reality.
It was a night attack (and night is the true reign of the Apache) and, curiously, the attack was against a radar-position and checkpoint: curiously because US Apache opened the first Gulf War in the very same way, destroying two Radar and Air Defence command post of the KARI (the name of the then-powerful Iraq's air defence network).
The opening shot of Desert Storm was a daring raid of two Flights of US Army Apaches (8 helicopters in total, as an AAC Squadron) which had the honor of being the first coalition asset entering Iraq: flying low over the desert and beneath radar detection, they attacked and destroyed the center.
The target had been deemed so dangerous, for the losses it could have inflicted to coalition air forces, that CENTCOM (US general Schwarzkopf) had asked for a "100% guarantee of success". The two centers had to be destroyed with perfect timing, and observed to be confirmed as truly "dead" at the end of the attack, something that Tomahawks does not make possible.
This is a reminder that fast-flying, roaring jets do not always are the answer, and cruise missiles aren't, either. Just as the anti-tank missile brought us Chobam and Dorchester armor, and not the death of the MBT that many had been foreseeing, just as the AA missile armed the fighters but did not replace the fighter, as many had expected, cruise missiles and other attack means do not reduce the need for assets placed close to the target, capable to sneak in, attack, attack again if necessary, make post-strike damage estimates, and be present when they are needed.
For 10 years, we were told months ago, delivering air power from the sea would have not been necessary. October 2010.
June 2011, and the point is proven wrong. It is a long run to 2020, let's hope we do not have to truly regret creating gaps of this bloody width in capabilities.
Meanwhile, congratulations to the Apache men and to HMS Ocean's crew for a job well done!
I'm sure this is just the first of many strikes and actions, and may your fate be always benign. Give them hell, and come back home safe and victorious.
And may dumb politicians realize their errors for once.