US military strikes on Libya have cost $550 million so far the Pentagon said Tuesday, adding that the tab was likely to increase another $40 million in the next few weeks.
Libyan rebels gather next to burning wrecked tanks at a site bombed by coalition air force in the town of Ajdabiya on March 26 Photo: AFP
Between March 19 and 28, the Defense Department spent more than 60 percent of the funds on munitions, such as missiles and bombs, with the rest going toward deploying troops and covering the costs of combat, including additional fuel needed for US aircraft and ships.
US troops fired at least 192 of the 199 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched against Libyan air defenses and command centers.
Each Tomahawk missile costs about US$1.5 million, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis told a congressional hearing, bringing total expenditures for the pricey munitions alone to nearly $300 million.
The United States has also launched 455 of the 602 laser-guided weapons used by the coalition over the same period.
"Future costs are highly uncertain," said Navy Commander Kathleen Kesler, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
But she estimated the Pentagon would spend another $40 million over the next three weeks as NATO assumes full control of coalition operations from the United States on Thursday and US forces gradually reduce their presence.
"After that, if US forces stay at the levels currently planned and the operations continues, we would incur added costs of about $40 million per month," she told AFP.
US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead said last week that the operational costs in Libya were negligible.
"Because we're not mobilizing or sending more forces forward, all of these are relatively minor increases in costs," he said, adding that the US would easily replenish its stock of Tomahawk missiles, which currently counts 3,000 such munitions.