British combat helicopters have destroyed a radar installation and military checkpoint during their first operation in Libya - despite coming under fire.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that RAF Apaches successfully completed their mission of hitting the targets near the town of Brega overnight.
Forces loyal to leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi fired at one of the choppers, but they both returned safely to the Royal Navy helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, which is stationed off the Libyan coast.
A variety of weapons were used, including hellfire missiles.
Major General Nick Pope, the communications officer for the Chief of the Defence Staff, emphasised that UK and Nato forces have been clear that their mission was to protect Libyan civilians under threat of attack.
He described it as "appropriate to employ attack helicopters to help intensify the effect that Nato can deliver at key points against regime forces which continue to threaten their own people."
Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Nato's commander of the operation in Libya, said: "This successful engagement demonstrates the unique capabilities brought to bear by attack helicopters.
Apache Attack Helicopters are operated by Royal Navy crews
"We will continue to use these assets whenever and wherever needed, using the same precision as we do in all of our missions."
The attack helicopters have been brought in because they provide more flexibility to track and engage pro-Gaddafi forces who deliberately target civilians and attempt to hide in populated areas.
Commander of the UK task group, Commodore John Kingwell said the attack helicopters are unique because they can "identify and engage targets with huge precision".
"That enables us to provide protection to civilians in Libya," he added.
Both Apache helicopters returned safely to HMS Ocean after the operation
The Evening Standard's defence correspondent, Robert Fox, said the attack will send a strong "psychological message" to Col Gaddafi that his forces are being "pinned down".
He said: "I have noticed in Whitehall that people are very clear about the way things are going in Libya."
Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed last month four Apaches would be deployed in an attempt to "ratchet up" the pressure on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Twelve French attack helicopters are also being used in Libya.
Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Liam Fox acknowledged the "increased risk" attached to the deployment of attack helicopters, but stressed they would play a key role in bringing a halt to the dictator's attacks on his own people.
The use of Apaches has alarmed some MPs about the prospect of an escalation in the conflict and the danger to British lives.