One week after the United States launched a military intervention in Libya, the cost to American taxpayers has already reached at least $600 million.
Figures released by the Pentagon on Tuesday put the figure at about $550 million, but that does not include the $60 million it could cost to replace an Air Force F-15E that was lost.
Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Kathleen Kesler said the $550 million represents only the added cost to the Defense Department as of Monday — money beyond what would have been spent for troops and ships.
The United States launched at least 191 Tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost $1.4 million each, for a total of $268 million, the Pentagon said.
American warplanes have dropped 455 precision guided bombs, which each cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Three B-2 stealth bombers that flew from Missouri to Libya and back for a bombing run each cost some $10,000 per hour to fly, which means the 25-hour round trip ran up a bill of $750,000, not including the munitions they dropped.
Ships and aircraft maintaining their positions off the Libyan coast are guzzling increasingly expensive fuel, and “each sortie, even if it drops no munitions, is very pricey,” said Winslow Wheeler of the Center for Defense Information in comments reported by ABC News.
“These airplanes cost us tens of thousands of dollars to operate per hour, and the fancier you get in terms of planes, the costs get truly astounding.”
The Pentagon has so far financed the Libya mission using money in its existing budget. But operating the no-fly zone over Libya alone could cost the United States as much as to $100 million a week, and the administration may eventually have to submit an emergency supplemental budget request for Libya, ABC News reported.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a Democrat who opposes American involvement in Libya, wants the House to vote to cut off funding for the mission.
“We have already spent trillions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which descended into unwinnable quagmires,” Kucinich wrote in a letter to colleagues last week.
“Now the president is plunging the United States into yet another war we cannot afford.”
The Obama administration has vowed not to employ ground troops to protect Libyan citizens or oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
However, a report on Tuesday disclosed that 2,200 Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina are preparing to deploy off the coast of Libya.
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit was scheduled to deploy to the Mediterranean later this year, but they are now set to leave in a few days.
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