Ronald Reagan addressed the nation from the Oval Office April 14, 1986 and announced the results of an air strike on Libya, after the bombing of a Berlin discotheque that was a favorite of American service men.
Reagan didn't fool around with Gadaffi. He acted swiftly to send a message.
Here's the time line of the events and how Reagan reacted:
Operation El Dorado Canyon
On April 5, 1986, a bomb exploded in a discotheque in Berlin frequented by United States service personnel. Of the 200 injured, 63 were American soldiers; one soldier and one civilian were killed.
On the late evening of 15 April and early morning of 16 April 1986, under the code name El Dorado Canyon, the United States launched a series of military air strikes against ground targets inside Libya.
It is the purpose behind the mission…a mission fully consistent with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter
Gadaffi ordering an attack on Americans "to cause maximum and indiscriminate casualties." Another communications source, an intercepted Libyan message outlined the attack being planned in West Berlin
All except one of these targets were chosen because of their direct connection to terrorist activity. The single exception was the Benina military airfield which based Libyan fighter aircraft. This target was hit to preempt Libyan interceptors from taking off and attacking the incoming US bombers. It should also be noted that the French Embassy in Tripoli and several of the neighboring residential buildings also were bombed inadvertently during the raid; they were not targeted.
Mission planners decided, as part of the effort to attain tactical surprise, to hit all five targets simultaneously. This decision had crucial impact on nearly every aspect of the operation since it meant that the available US Navy resources could not perform the mission unilaterally. The only two types of aircraft in the US inventory capable of conducting a precision night attack were the Navy’s A-6s and the Air Force’s F-111s.
The Navy had two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean at the time planning for the raid: The America and The Coral Sea. Each had ten A-6 aircraft, but these were not the total of 32 aircraft estimated as required to successfully hit all five targets with one raid. The closest F-111s were based in the United Kingdom (UK); and use of these UK based aircraft dramatically affected the scope and complexity of the operation.
Planning was even further compounded when the French refused to grant authority to overfly France. This refusal increased the distance of the flight route from Great Britain to Tripoli by about 1300 nautical miles each way, added 6-7 hours of flight time for the pilots and crews, and forced a tremendous amount of additional refueling support from tanker aircraft.
The size of the strike force’s final configuration was immense and complex. Approximately 100 aircraft were launched in direct support of the raid:
28 KC-10 and KC-135 tankers
5 EF-111 Raven ECM (Electronic Countermeasure) aircraft
14 A-6E strike aircraft
12 A-7E and F/A-18 Electronic warfare and jamming aircraft which undertook air defense suppression for the mission
Several F-14 Tomcats which took up the long range Combat Air Patrol (CAP) responsibilities
4 E-2C Hawkeye airborne command and control and warning aircraft
The actual combat commenced at 0200 (local Libyan time), lasted less than 12 minutes, and dropped 60 tons of munitions. Resistance outside the immediate area of attack was nonexistent, and Libyan air defense aircraft never launched. One FB-111 strike aircraft was lost during the strike. The entire armada remained in the vicinity for over an hour trying to account for all aircraft.
As stated above, the French refused to allow the United States access to their airspace, which resulted in an additional 2300 miles of travel to and from the targets, caused extra in-flight refuelings, and the loss of one strike fighter and her crew. No doubt due to fatigue, our boys accidentally dropped a bomb on the French embassy in Tripoli. Oops.