The UK contribution to the NATO operation in Libya cost £212 million pounds (333 million dollars), Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said on Thursday in London.
The mission formally ended on Oct. 31, seven months after NATO took control of military operations under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan dictator 42-year rule ended in August and he was captured and killed October 20.
But the campaign to oust Gaddafi took longer than expected, pushing up the cost for Britain at a time when the UK government is seeking to slash public spending.
Hammond announced the total in a speech in London saying it was made up of £145 million of operating costs and £67 million to replenish munitions. Royal Air Force planes carried out hundreds of bombing missions over Libya
“This is almost a third lower that the estimate my predecessor provided to Parliament in October,” he said. “This is due to the speed with which operations were concluded and a reassessment of the cost of replenishing munitions used; a successful outcome in every respect”.
He hailed the final cost as a successful outcome in every respect, stressing it was lower than an estimate of £260 million given by his predecessor Liam Fox in October.
But the figure is still potentially embarrassing for the UK government after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne predicted at the start of the campaign that it would cost in the order of the tens of millions, not the hundreds of millions of pounds.
The cost was met from government reserves, rather than normal budgets, at a time when the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has imposed deep cuts to spending, including the defence budget, as it seeks to slash a record deficit.