They were welcomed into the fold with great fanfare, the crucial Arab backing for a mission that needed regional allies to give it the stamp of legitimacy.
But two months into Operation Unified Protector, a Guardian data gathering exercise has established that the Arab countries involved have made no more than a modest contribution to the aerial intervention in what now appears to be a stalemate civil war.
The Guardian asked all nations involved in the operation to provide details of servicemen and military assets committed, as well as sorties undertaken and bombs dropped.
Some were more forthcoming than others. Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, the three Arab states involved, gave only the briefest of information. Between them, they have 125 personnel in the operation. Qatar has six mirage jets based on Crete and two C17 transporters. The UAE has 12 jets on Sardinia. Jordan has six fighter escort jets and six transport planes.
Together these represent a small fraction of the 300 jets policing the no-fly zone and bombing warehouses, munitions dumps and army units of Muammar Gaddafi's regime. The Guardian understands that none of the three countries has been involved with bombing Libyan targets, sticking instead to "defensive" sorties to enforce the no-fly zone.
None of the three countries would divulge the number of sorties flown. But information from the French defence ministry indicates the Qataris at least have been flying a few joint sorties each week with French fighter jets.
One Whitehall source indicated the three countries had been more useful on the diplomatic, rather than the military, front. "What they have been doing is getting involved in the contact group which is trying to find a political solution to the problem and has been providing support and funding for the rebels," said the source. "That is just as important to the Nato effort. It is very important that Arab nations are involved in that process. They are contributing in different ways and that's probably where they can help most."
At the other end of the scale, the Nordic nations can reasonably claim to be punching well above their weight.
Norway and Denmark have both dropped far more bombs – nearly 700 between them – than the UK. Both have recently targeted "bunker-busting" bombs on Gaddafi's compounds in Tripoli. Nato commanders are believed to have assigned Danish F16 jets to target the building in which Gaddafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab, was killed on 30 April.
Data shows the US initially dominated the military campaign before taking a back seat and handing over control to Nato on 31 March. France also took a leading role, deploying its aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the head of the British navy, told MPs: "If we had a carrier, it would be there."
The US flew more than 800 sorties during the first week, of which more than 300 were strike sorties. It fired more than 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles from its ships. Britain, the only other country with cruise missiles, fired a small number of the £1m armaments from the submarine, HMS Triumph.
Besides the US, the weight of operations have fallen on the British, Italians, French and Canadians. The British have flown about 1,300 sorties, 25% of the total, followed by the French with about 1,200 and the Italians with 600. The Canadians, who have the HMCS Charlottetown frigate in the region, have taken part in more than 350 sorties.
The data also provides a compelling picture of the targets hit by Nato. More than 800 have been hit in 3,000 strike sorties, the bulk of them (179) in Tripoli, followed by 165 in Misrata, where pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces have been engaged in vicious fighting.
In a campaign echoing the 1999 Kosovo air assault, the first targets were Gaddafi's air defence radar systems and surface-to-air missile sites. The second tier were tanks and heavy weapons approaching Benghazi, Misrata and other coastal towns.
Ammunition dumps were common, and soft, targets. At the end of March, British and US aircraft destroyed dumps near Sabha, deep in the desert 500 miles south of the Libyan coast in one of their longest joint bombing runs.
As B1 long-range bombers took off from their base in the US, two Tornados flew from RAF Marham in Norfolk. The US bombers fired 500lb joint direct attack munitions; the Tornados fired Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles (at £800,000 apiece). In total, 40 underground ammunitions bunkers near Sabha were destroyed.
Tornados had already flown 3,000-mile round trips on bombing runs from their Norfolk base.
Eight Tornados and 10 Typhoons were soon based at Gioia del Colle in southern Italy after an RAF convoy transported 1,680 tonnes of kit from RAF Wittering. Tornados were armed with Storm Shadows, Paveway IV "precision-guided" bombs and accurate Brimstone anti-tank missiles. Typhoons, in their first ground attack operations, were armed with enhanced Pavey 2 bombs, as the RAF mounted an urgent extra pilot-training programme.
Nato ships have stopped 941 vessels and boarded another 40 while enforcing the arms embargo.