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Although I sometimes feel its somewhat inappropriate to discuss a country's military force when it's being used against its own people, I decided to open a topic on Libya anyway. I'm sure you all have been watching the news and know what's going on. But let's talk about military air power. First off, two Mirage F1s fled to Malta. Rebels are asking for the air force to be dealt with, so they can liberate the country on the ground. Voices in favor of a UN sanctioned no-fly zone.

So other than the ex-RNLN Lynx they've most recently have obtained (*sigh*), what do they have. Most aircraft remaining today were delivered in 1970s-1980s. Sanctions started in 1988, the UN embargo started in 1992, lasting to 2003, had a drastic effect on the serviceable of the fleet.

- Mirage F1ED/BD, a handful had been overhauled and redelivered by 2009. In total, 12 were expected to return to service of the 38 AD/BD/ED once delivered, probably only the BD and ED variants. The remainder were reportedly in such a bad condition that they were scrapped.
- Su-24MK, in 1989, six Su-24MK Fencers were delivered, five remained which were overhauled, but serviability is poor due to lack of maintenance and parts.
- Su-22M3/UM3, once 60 delivered, remainder unknown but split between Tobruk and Sirte/Ghurdabiyah.
- MiG-23MF, reportedly only six remained in service by 2009.
- MiG-21bis/UM, unknown how many remain, but at least a few UM two-seaters were overhauled and returned to service.
- MiG-23MLD/UB, eight had been overhauled by 2009, but more were expected to follow.
- Galeb G-2, 50 were delivered in 1975, and "several" were overhauled and did get support afterwards from Serbia. Although they were just used for training by the LAF academy, they could be armed and still have their cannons. Based at Misrata, between Tripoli and Sirte.
- L-39ZO, 24 believed to have been overhauled. Again, a trainer, but used extensively in the war with Chad to fly CAS. Most are probably at Sebha/Zawia, the Metiga ones seemed (2009) in storage.
- SF260, at least 12 were overhauled, I mention this basic trainer because they can also be deployed in the light ground attack / CAS role, and Libya has had plenty of experience in the war with Chad using it for that purpose. However, stationed at Sebha/Zawia, they'd have to deploy north to take part in the fight for Tripoli, which I doubt they'll try.
- Mi-35/Mi-17, stationed in Sirte which is a pro-Gaddafi town anyway, could cause major hurt if the rebels try to take it. But I haven't seen any proof of them. There were quite some airworthy Hips at Metiga.

Details are sketchy, if you have more info, I appreciate it.

Now, the east of the country is pretty much under control of the rebels. So I would say that probably means the Benghazi based MiG-23s and Tobruk based Mirage F1 and Su-22M3 can not be called upon. I assume the same applies to Al Bumbah.

Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte is where the RNLN Lynx was seized and crew captured. Close to this city is Ghurdabiyah, this where the other Su-22M3s and the Su-24s are based.

Ajdabiya: The rebel-held port was bombed last week by a Libyan warplane (BBC). I think I saw the footage and I believe that was a Su-24. It missed.

Ras Lanuf was also targeted by aircraft, footage did not show the aircraft, the blast looked like a smaller diameter bomb compared to the one in Ajdabiya. But the noise definately indicated it was a jet. Apparently there were several strikes a day.

Closer to Tripoli, Zawiyah appears to be where the bloodiest battles took place thus far with some 50 tanks being reported (footage showed at least 8 ). The same film saw a long convoy of black pickup trucks, I wonder what that was about. However, no air strikes reported other than some helicopters observing.

Misrata has been reported to be in rebel hands, but surrounded by government forces. So I'm not sure if the airbase is also in rebel hands.

The MiG-23s are air defense fighters, they are pretty much useless. The couple dozen SF-260/L-39 will probably not be used.

It seems to me that a no-fly zone is only necessary over the northwestern part of the country to prevent jets taking off from Sirte (in particular the squadron of Su-22s and five Su-24s and if possible Mi-35) and maybe Mertiga if planes have moved there.

Tu-22 have been out of service since the Soviets left in 1992. I'd be surprised if anyone is left that could get them started, let alone take-off without crashing. MiG-25 long gone too and Mirage Vs were sold to Pakistan (mostly for their spare parts)

Good thing they've been lagging on their procurement as they were eyeing Rafales, Su-35, Su-30, Yak-130s.

I'm no big fan of the no-fly-zone idea though if they really want to "take out all Libyan air defenses first" to keep just the handful of Su-22/24 under control. A no-fly zone doesn't stop those tanks shooting up urban areas anyway, and there will be probably be more of that. Mi-35 could be a big problem, no-fly zone or not, but I wonder how far the overhauls were along.

Remember the incident back in 1989? F14 vs MIG-23!  ;D

Libya's air force is only a threat against its own civilians. Their outdated air force would not stand a chance against todays modern fighters that are in use. It would be another Desert storm scenario. A few aircraft would try to fight, but the majority would probably be flown to nearby countries, were the pilots would plead for asylum.

Point is that one could use old WWII warbirds if you just want to terrorize/slaughter you own unarmed civilian citizens.

So every news channel got the same footage from Ras Lanuf, couple of airstrikes by Su-22, filmed from different angles. However I wonder what they are actually doing, it seems the pilots are not making a serious effort. They fly at medium attitude and miss road junctions by hundreds of metres if not more. Sure, their bombing skills may be lacking, but I haven't seen any strafing... a road full of pickups, and the pilot drops one bomb in the desert?

Also I noticed the term "bombardment" is used for the Gaddafi son's tank brigade shelling cities, some news agencies confuse the term with the air strikes.

In an interview by Al Jazeera with a rebel, he said they spotted Mirages and helicopters which went away when they opened fire.

I'm starting to think the air force is intentionally underperforming.

That said, this armour brigade which now is reported to have taken back Zawiyah by brutal force is the biggest concern. And Misrata was reportedly taken back with tanks in the city center, but they got some anti-tank surprise there. Rebel forces retreated from Bin Jawad to regroup and resupply (they said). Bin Jawad reportedly was taken back with support of gunships and fighters. This is so close to Sirte, home of the Sukhois and Hinds.

A partial no-fly zone might be sufficient.

But again, how is a no-fly zone going to prevent the tank brigade from going from city to city...

If only something could be done to counter the propaganda machine instead... Soldiers are told they are fighting Bin Laden and brainwashed youth. Reports of this emerged even before Gaddafi started saying this on TV. Other soldiers were just plainly forced into battle, threatened to be shot if they refused.

With regards to the rebels, still seems highly disorganized, apart from top command. Earlier reports from Benghazi showed some officers from the military leading them on the ground. However, they no longer seemed to be around? However I did notice some more advanced weaponry being used. 20 artillerie shells were answered by 40 Katyusha rockets according to one report. Footage showed a BM-12/Type-63/Taka launcher I think, 107mm, 5mile range, 1.3kg warhead... a far cry from what normally is associated with Katyusha today. [Edit: footage of March 9 near Bin Jawad... rebels firing I think 122mm Katyusha rockets, truck mounted, looks like BM-21... max range 20 up to 40km]
Also anti-air missiles were reportedly used by the rebels, interesting, they could have attained SA-7 like MANPADs, although I haven't seen them. In one film, I noticed a rebel pointing either a recoilles rifle or AT weapon (larger than your typical RPG)to the air... uhm...
Russia/China blocking UN resolution for a no-fly zone. USS Eisenhouwer on its way.

--- Quote from: Viggen ---Point is that one could use old WWII warbirds if you just want to terrorize/slaughter you own unarmed civilian citizens.
--- End quote ---

Indeed, but my point is that's not what is happening. The only effect the airstrikes seem to be having is fear and delay advance. And it seems to be working. So as it isn't used to slaughter, and the west presses on with a no-fly zone, it's not preventing warcrimes, it's aiding the rebels. If you're going to do that, you might as well just arm them and prevent the issues of a (non-UN authorized) no-fly zone. I think if one wants to support the rebellion, supplying the rebels with SA-7 MANPADs would be a good idea to keep the air force even further away. They are the most proliferated MANPADs anyway, it's not like making the Stinger-mistake again.

Gaddafi needs to go, but this is an internal affair. If the Arab nations are so supportive of an (air) intervention, let them do it, they got F-16s too. I don't think NATO should step in, it's ridiculous to get into this when you don't react at all to conflicts elsewhere.

But that's political, back on the air/AD power.

Saw a picture of I think SA-7 being fired, two weeks old, Benghazi. Apparently some Hinds were at Benina Feb 20-23, one shot down, two or more destroyed on the ground as well as a couple of Hip losses and one Su-22M3 reportedly carrying 4x FAB-500 crashing. Also a Mi-14 was captured. I started watching it too late to get all. The ground-attack version of the MiG-23, the -23BN, were sitting on the apron at al-Abrak AB, all rusty and sandy and were "secured" earlier as well.

Yes, I remember the F-14/MiG-23. They do have the MLD version now, which was much better, but still useless today. I don't know how hard they've been working in the Ukraine 2009-2010, but I wouldn't expect anything past a dozen to be operational.

Tom Cooper at came up with a list of overhauled aircraft:

--- Quote from: ACIG ---- up to 12 Mirage F.1, though probably less (French sources cite only four, two of which have already been flown out)
- between 10 and 18 Su-22M-3Ks and Su-22UM-3Ks
- 16 MiG-23
- 12-20 MiG-21
- 20 G-2A
- 8 J-21
- 24 L-39
- 12 SF.260WL
- 6 An-26
- 5 An-72
- plenty of helicopters (including up to 20 Mi-24s and at least 20 Mi-8s)

--- End quote ---

So some a bit higher than I said in my first post. But this was before losses.

Honestly i have not yet had the time to look deeper into this conflict. I do however agree with you that us westerners should stay out of this. Sure we can give them the political support they need, but like you said. Let them solve this with their own hardware.

Anyway. I saw that "you" listed up to 20 MI-24´s. Russians used them in the afghan-war and they were very successful. Im pretty sure that a good pilot and gunner will hit what they are aiming at. So yes, i do believe that the air force and some other units are intensionally missing targets.


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