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2 U.S. Carriers to Maneuver Off Coast of Libya

February 10, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. aircraft carriers will conduct four days of flight operations off the Libyan coast starting Tuesday night, Pentagon officials said today.

The officials said the Navy's 6th Fleet filed a new notice with international aviation authorities disclosing the maneuvers late Sunday night. The officials, who asked not to be named, said the exercise will be almost identical to the one conducted during the last week of January.

The officials said there are no plans to operate in or over the disputed Gulf of Sidra, but added that the option has not been ruled out.

The decision to conduct a new round of flight operations off Libya comes just three days after Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadafi announced that his own military forces had begun a week of maneuvers in and around the Tripoli area.

The aircraft carriers Coral Sea and Saratoga were said to be steaming southward in the central Mediterranean this morning, moving toward the Tripoli Flight Information Region, an area extending more than 700 miles in length off the Libyan coast.

Confrontation Avoided

During the last U.S. maneuvers, U.S. and Libyan jets frequently crossed paths but avoided any confrontation. Those maneuvers were ordered in what Reagan Administration officials described as a "show of resolve" prompted by an earlier decision by Kadafi to place his own forces on alert.

Kadafi took that step after U.S. accusations that he had supported a Palestinian terrorist faction believed responsible for the Dec. 27 attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports.

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