Will more Tornado jets from RAF Marham join operations over Libya
It was unclear whether more aircraft from the Norfolk base would be joining the international operation in Libya last night, after Nato's Secretary General called for more ground-attack aircraft to strike Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said 'precision' aircraft were needed and he was confident military commanders would get the additional resources soon, despite a meeting of the alliance ending with no concrete commitments.
The call came amid claims that Libyan forces were using cluster bombs against civilians, and Lord Richard Dannatt - the former head of Britain's armed forces - called for Nato to arm and train the rebels who are trying to topple dictator Col Gaddafi.
After a two-day summit in Berlin ended yesterday, Secretary General Mr Rasmussen said: 'What we need is a small number of precision aircraft fighters and without going into details, I'm hopeful that nations will step up to the plate.
'I think all Nato allies realise that of course the operation must be fully resourced.'
Marham Tornado aircraft have led precision air strikes against Libyan forces since the start of the conflict, on March 19.
Crews flew 3,000-mile sorties from their Norfolk base to attack Gaddafi's air defences, hours after world leaders agreed to military action.
- 1 M&S to close 32 stores as part of move away from town centres
- 2 Every household in the UK to get £400 to help with rising energy bills
- 3 Man dies of collapsed lung after 'busy' hospital meant x-ray was missed
- 4 Where you can see the Red Arrows over Norfolk this weekend
- 5 WATCH: 'Unplayable' delivery from Suffolk bowler goes viral
- 6 'It is a cash cow' - vicar's warning after being slapped with parking fine
- 7 Explained: What the cost of living support package means for you
- 8 Norfolk garden centre wins 27th gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show
- 9 Farmer says cousin's wedding venue will bring 'criminal activity'
- 10 Major road to close for resurfacing works costing £81,000
A number of aircraft are currently based at Gioia Del Colle - a forward operating base in southern Italy.
From there they are flying armed reconnaissance patrols, using sophisticated aerial imaging equipment to hunt down Libyan tanks and armoured vehicles.
Precision aircraft fighters would appear to coincide with the Tornado's job description. Once the jets locate targets, they can attack them with precision bombs and missiles accurate to a few feet.
But there was no word from the MoD over whether more of the aircraft, which are a regular sight and sound in the skies over West and North Norfolk, would be leaving for Italy.
Mr Rasmussen's comments came as David Cameron faced demands for a recall of Parliament amid claims Britain was now pursuing an overt policy of 'regime change' in Libya.
Senior Conservative and Labour MPs said the Government had gone beyond the mandate given in last month's Commons vote to protect civilians.
The calls followed the publication of a joint newspaper article by Mr Cameron, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy saying that it would be an 'unconscionable betrayal' if the Libyan dictator was allowed to remain in power.
Three Tory backbenchers and two Labour said that MPs - currently on their Easter break - should now return to Westminster in order to have their say on the latest developments.
Conservative John Baron and Labour's Jeremy Corbyn said they had written to Commons Speaker John Bercow to formally request a recall.
Under Commons standing orders, the Speaker can order a recall at the request of a government minister. Before the House rose last week, the Leader of the Commons Sir George Young said they would do so 'if circumstances require it'.
However Downing Street sources played down the prospects, insisting that the Government's position had not changed as a result of the newspaper article.
But with Parliament not due to return until April 26, some MPs argued that was too long to wait.
'I feel that mission in Libya has changed quite significantly,' said Mr Baron, who was the only Conservative MP tovote against military action.
'When it was put before the House, the emphasis was very much on humanitarian assistance. This has changed into a mission of regime change.
'If one was being charitable one would say that this is mission creep. If one was being uncharitable, one would say this was always the underlying motive.'
Earlier, former shadow home secretary David Davis said that while he supported the Government's actions they went beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone approved by Parliament.
He told the BBC: 'While I approve of the next phase - I think it is necessary, I think it is probably unavoidable, and I think that Cameron has done the right thing at every step so far - to go to the next phase he has to get parliamentary authority.'
Mr Corbyn, a veteran Labour left-winger, said Mr Cameron's article confirmed that the Government was now pursuing a policy of regime change, and said Parliament should be recalled to debate the matter.
He said: 'Britain and Nato are making a habit of wars with questionable legality or justification. The West seems to have no interest in a political solution and is prepared for a military campaign which now clearly focuses on regime change.'
Senior Labour backbencher David Winnick said that it would be 'appropriate' for Parliament to be recalled early next week, amid 'growing unease' over precisely what the situation is.
'However much we despise the murderous Gaddafi clan, and that includes his sons as well as the father, the fact remains that it's not currently possible under international law for regime change to take place,' he said.
Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted Britain's Nato allies remained 'very much on the same page' after alliance foreign ministers meeting in Berlin failed to agree on the call by the UK and France to send for more ground attack aircraft.
He said discussions would continue, adding: 'Given that it is such a broad range of nations, actually the extent of the unity and resolve and the agreement on our objectives is remarkable.'
Rebels in Misrata - which came under heavy shelling yesterday from troops loyal to Gaddafi - claimed the dictator's forces had been using cluster bombs.
Human Rights Watch also claimed the weapons were used. Libyan officials denied the accusations.