US Allied strikes by missiles and warplanes have grounded Muammar Gaddafi’s air force in Benghazi, Libya’s second-biggest city.

About 19 US warplanes, including US Marine Corps Harrier jets, USAF B-2 stealth bombers and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, conducted strike operations against Libya.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the coalition was in full control of Libyan airspace.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said the initial operations had been very effective, striking most of the Libyan air-defence systems and air fields.

Spain, Belgium, Denmark and the Arab nation of Qatar have joined the coalition in support of the UN sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya, according to Bloomberg.

The Libyan Air Force consists of 23,000 personnel divided into a dozen air-defence squadrons, equipped with Soviet-manufactured MiG fighter jets and aging TU 22 bombers.