Britain’s Defence Secretary Liam Fox has said that the NATO-led air campaign in Libya will have cost the U.K. at least 260 million pounds ($415 million) if it continues for another three months. Fox said the projected cost for Britain’s involvement in a mission which started March 19 — and could continue until later this year — is “in the region” of 120 million pounds. In a statement to lawmakers, Fox said there would also be an additional 140 million pound bill to replace missiles and other weapons used during the campaign. Separately released figures show that British jets and helicopters have flown 200 sorties in which they fired weapons in the period March 19 to June 14. In March, Treasury chief George Osborne said the campaign would likely cost “tens of millions, not hundreds of millions” of pounds (dollars).
Prime Minister David Cameron’s office acknowledged that the new figures were also an estimate, and likely to be revised if the mission continues beyond six months, or comes to an abrupt end. Fox explained that attempts by Britain and others to minimize civilian casualties in Libya had led to a steeper bill, and said officials must prepare for similar costs in the future. “If we are going to fight operations in the future based on minimizing civilian casualties there is clearly a financial price to pay,” Fox said. “But I think that shows that we are on the moral high ground and that we place a higher value on human life than the Gadhafi regime does.” Fox confirmed that the country’s Treasury will meet the costs of the Libya mission from reserves. Britain’s defense ministry already faces sharp spending cuts under the country’s austerity measures.
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