19 March: BBC News reported at 16:00 GMT that the French Air Force had sent 19 fighter planes to cover an area of 100 km by 150 km (60 by 100 miles) over Benghazi to prevent any attacks on the rebel-controlled city. "Our air force will oppose any aggression by Colonel Gaddafi against the population of Benghazi", said French President Nicolas Sarkozy. BBC News reported at 16:59 GMT that at 16:45 GMT a French plane had fired at and destroyed a Libyan military vehicle – this being confirmed by French defence ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire.
According to Al Jazeera, French aircraft destroyed four Libyan tanks in air strikes to the south-west of Benghazi. The French military claimed that its aircraft had also flown reconnaissance missions over "all Libyan territory". On the same day, British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that Royal Air Force jets were also in action and reports suggested that the US Navy had fired the first cruise missile. CBS News's David Martin reported that three B-2 stealth bombers flew non-stop from the US to drop 40 bombs on a major Libyan airfield. Martin further reported that US fighter jets were searching for Libyan ground forces to attack.
The Pentagon and the British Ministry of Defence confirmed that, jointly, HMS Triumph and U.S. Navy ships (including USS Barry, pictured) and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, supported with air attacks on military installations, both inland and on the coast.
At the start of operations United States Africa Command commanded by General Carter Ham exercised strategic command. Tactical command in the theater of operations was executed from USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea under command of Admiral Sam Locklear, commander United States Naval Forces Europe. United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates indicated that control of the operation would be transferred to French and British authorities, or NATO, within days.
Libyan Forces attacked south of Benghazi
20 March: Several Storm Shadow missiles were launched by British jets. Nineteen US planes conducted strike operations in Libya. The planes included Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers, US Navy EA-18G Growlers, which were diverted from operations over Iraq and jammed Libyan radar and communications, and Air Force F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. A military convoy was destroyed south of Benghazi by air strikes. Seventy military vehicles are known to have been destroyed, multiple loyalist ground troop casualties were also reported.
Four Danish F-16 fighters left Italy's Sigonella air base for a successful five-hour-long "high-risk mission", and four Italian Tornados ECR, accompanied by four Italian F-16 as fighter escorts took off from the Trapani base. A second immediate cease-fire was declared by the Libyan Army on 20 March, starting at 9 pm.
21 March: SA-2, SA-3 and SA-5 air defence systems in Libya have been destroyed by Italian aircraft during a raid near Tripoli. Only SA-6, hand-held SA-7s and SA-8 mobile SAMs remain a possible threat to aircraft. A spokesman for the National Transitional Council said Gaddafi's forces were using human shields in defence of their military assets, bringing civilians to Misrata to surround their vehicles and troops to deter airstrikes. RAF Tornados aborted a planned airstrike due to information that a number of civilians were reported close to the intended target. Among the buildings hit late on 20 March and early 21 March were parts of the Bab al-Azizia compound often used by Colonel Gaddafi. Further strikes on Tripoli and, according to Libyan government spokesmen, Sabha and Sirte, took place on late 21 March.
22 March: During a mission over Libya, a US F-15E crashed in rebel-held territory. It was reported that the aircraft, based at RAF Lakenheath in England, came down following a mechanical fault. Both crewmen were rescued by a US CSAR unit, but six local villagers were injured by gunfire from the rescuing US forces. There are claims that the pilot called in a bomb strike by Harrier jump jets, possibly injuring the civilians. The US announced that Qatari forces would join the operation by the weekend.
23 March: Coalition aircraft flew at least two bombing missions against loyalist forces near the besieged city of Misrata. Late in the day, it was announced that the remaining pro-Gaddafi forces and their equipment in the city, with the exception of individual snipers, had been forced to retreat or had been destroyed. In the early morning hours, four Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornets conducted two separate bombing runs on multiple targets at a pro-Gaddafi munitions depot near Misrata. NATO announced it will enforce the UN embargo to "cut off the flow of arms and mercenaries" under the name Operation Unified Protector.
24 March: Multiple Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched at targets during the day. French aircraft attacked Al Jufra Air Base 250 kilometres (160 mi) inland and destroyed a Libyan Soko G-2 Galeb light attack jet as it landed at Misrata Airport. Eyewitnesses reported that coalition aircraft had bombed Sabha Air Base, 620 kilometres (390 mi) south of Tripoli. F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Air Force were assigned to the US African command and Operation Odyssey Dawn. A number of Norwegian F-16s took off from Souda Bay Air Base on Crete, Greece, performing several missions over Libya during the day, evening and through the night.
25 March: Three laser-guided bombs were launched from two F-16s of the Royal Norwegian Air Force against Libyan tanks. French Air Force destroyed an artillery battery overnight outside Ajdabiya. RAF Tornado fighter/bombers together with the French Air Force struck and destroyed seven pro-Gaddafi tanks dug in on the outskirts of Ajdabiya with precision guided munitions.
26 March: F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Air Force bombed an airfield in Libya during the night. Two CF-18s from the Canadian Forces detachment conducted one sortie each, on a mission to release precision-guided munitions against electronic warfare sites near Misrata. French Air Force confirms the destruction by its aircraft of at least 5 Libyan Soko G-2 Galeb aircraft and 2 Mi-35 military helicopters. RAF Tornados destroyed three armoured vehicles in Misrata and a further two vehicles in Ajdabiya with Brimstone missiles. Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) F-16s knocked out Libyan self-propelled rocket launchers and tanks.
27 March: RDAF F-16s knocked out Libyan self-propelled artillery south of Tripoli.
US Military map showing the situation of 28 March 2011
4 Canadian Forces CF-18s struck and destroyed Regime ammunition bunkers 92 km south of Misrata. Air Force and Navy Rafales attacked a command centre south of Tripoli. French and Qatari Mirage 2000-5s conducted joint patrols and air interdiction missions from Souda Air Base. The number of French Mirage 2000-5s based as Souda was increased to four.
28 March: RAF Tornados destroyed two Libyan tanks and two armoured vehicles near Misrata earlier in the day. The Ministry of Defence said British jets had launched missiles against ammunition bunkers in the morning in the Sabha area of southern Libya. Air operations were planned to focus on the region around Zintan and Misrata. A US Navy P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol aircraft fired at the 12-meter Libyan Coast Guard vessel Vittoria after multiple explosions were seen near the Libyan port of Misrata Monday evening forcing it to be beached. The USAF said an A-10 Thunderbolt also fired on two smaller Libyan vessels traveling with the larger ship, destroying one and forcing the other to be abandoned. Air force Rafales and Mirage 2000Ds and a joint patrol of Navy Rafales and Super Etendards bombed an ammunition dump at Gharyan, 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Tripoli. Mirage F1CRs conducted reconnaissance missions for the first time in the operation.