31 July 2011

Libyan Conflict: Fixed-wing Combat Aircraft make an Appearance



19-Mar, 2011, UN forces strike at Gadhafi air-defences. Events moving so quickly that we'll begin a new posting on no-fly zone enforcement. Suffice it to say tomahawk cruse missile strikes have been conducted. 17-Mar, 2011 - UN Security Council adopts resolution to impose a no-fly zone 10-0 with 5 abstentions.


Photo: Chris Lofting

(02-Mar, 2011) LARAF heavy 'fixed-wing' combat aircraft are - in fact - operating. Clip (see link) clearly shows and LARAF Su-24MK Fencer-D dropping bombs. The Su-24 is an F-111 / Tornado interdiction / strike class aircraft. Opposition AAA (antiaircraft artillery) can clearly be heard in the clip

BBC video w/sound:

Regarding video - dropping single bombs in ‘manual-mode’ is not typically the Su-24s method of attack.


(19-Mar 2011) Dramatic images of an MiG-23ML being hit over Benghazi:

As rebel aircraft begin to operate, we'll need to watch for IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) issues for all combatants.

LARAF losses to date 19-Mar 2011 [ACIG]:
  • 17 February, An-26, captured by protesters in Kufra.
  • 20 February, Mi-8 or Mi-24, reported as shot down during the uprising in el-Beyda 
  • 20 February, Mi-24 "853", destroyed on the ground at Benina AB. 
  • 20 February, Mi-24 "854", captured at Benina AB. 
  • 20 February, Mi-14 "1406", captured at Benina AB. 
  • 21 February, unk. transport aircraft, claimed as shot down by ground fire while attempting to land at Gamal Abdel Nasser AB, south of Tobruq. 
  • 21 February, unk. helicopter, claimed as shot down by demonstrators. 
  • 23 February, A.109, claimed as shot down by local protesters. 
  • 23 February, Su-22UM-3K, crashed after pilot activated ejection of the crew (WSO arrested for resisting defection; pilot evacuated to Egypt). 
  • 23 February, Su-22M-3K, crashed after pilot activated ejection (pilot evacuated to Egypt). 
  • 23 February, Mirage F.1ED "502", flown to Malta by defecting pilot. 
  • 23 February, Mirage F.1ED "508", flown to Malta by defecting pilot.
  • 23 February?, SF.260 "FA-DME", crushed by T-55 MBT during the fighting for Misurata AB. 
  • 27 February, Mi-8 or Mi-24, reportedly shot down by Manpads during attack on local radio station; crew of five captured. 
  • 2 March, Su-22M-3K, claimed as shot down during fighting in Mersa el-Brega, more likely only damaged. 
  • 3 March, unknown fighter jet, claimed shot down during the fighting in Misurata. 
  • 3 March, Mirage F.1ED, claimed as shot down during fighting in Mersa el-Brega. 
  • 4 March, Mi-8MT "2119/Air Ambulance", captured in abandoned condition at Ras Lanoof airfield. 
  • 5 March, unk. helicopter, claimed shot down during fighting in Ras Lanoof. 
  • 5 March, Mi-8 or Mi-24, shot down by ZPU-4 during fighting in Ras Lanoof. 
  • 5 March, Su-24MK "38", shot down by ZPU-4 during fighting west of Ras Lanoof, crew KIA, one was Syrian.
  • 6 March, Mi-24, claimed shot down by ZPU-4 during fighting in Bin Jawad area, crew KIA, one of pilots was Syrian 
  • 6 March, Su-22, claimed shot down by ZPU-4s during attacks in Ras Lanoof area, pilot reportedly captured, said to be Sudanese 
  • 6 March, Su-22, claimed shot down by ZPU-4s during attacks in Ras Lanoof area, pilot reportedly captured, said to be Syrian 
  • 7 March, unknown fighter jet, claimed shot down by ZPU-4s during attacks in Ras Lanoof area 
  • 16 March, unknown fighter jet, reportedly flown to Benina AB by defecting pilot. 
  • 16 March, unknown fighter jet, reportedly flown to Benina AB by defecting pilot. 
  • 15 March, MiG-21bis, flown to Benina AB by defecting pilot (Col. Ali Atiyya). 
  • 15 March, MiG-21bis, flown to Benina AB by defecting pilot. (Note: one of two MiG-21s was lost while scrambling from Benina AB, on 17 March, fate of pilot unknown). 
  • 17 March, Su-22M-3K, shot down over Benina AB, pilot ejected safely and captured; said to be Algerian. 
  • 17 March, unknown fighter aircraft, claimed shot down near Solluch, 50km south of Benghazi, fate of pilot unknown.



FLAF 'Free Libyan Air Force' update to date 17-Mar 2011 [ACIG]:
  • 15-Mar: 6 combat sorties flown: two vs. warships; two vs Agedabia; two vs. Ghurdabiya AB. 1 MiG-23BN fighter lost: reported suicide-attack on Bab Azizia barracks in Tripoli. 
  • 16-Mar: 3 combat sorties flown; two by Mi-24s and one by Mi-14, no losses. 
  • 17-Mar: 1 MiG-21bis crashed after a take-off from Benina AB, pilot apparently KIA.

[Above] Rebel Mi-24 "Hind" gunship underway near Ajdabiya on 16-Mar. (LA Times)

    [Above/Below] LARAF Su-22M-3K (NATO: Fitter). Aircraft "311" would be photographed over Ras Lanoof on 10-Mar 2011.


    [Below] MiG-23BN Flogger-H Attack-jet. This type may have been involved in attack of regime warships off Agedabia and regime airbase at Syrte on 15-Mar.



    [Above] LARAF MiG-23UB two seat trainer [Below] Ex-Syrian AF aircraft designated MiG-23ML'D' (Export) Fighter "6718" of 1023 Squadron.


    LARAF reportedly has only two active MiG-23 units left: No.1023 Squadron with some 10-11 MiG-23MS/UB/MLs at Mitiga AB, and No.1050 Squadron with a (probable) similar number MiG-23MFs at Misurata AB.


    [Above] LARAF MiG-21UM. [Below] G-2 light attack jet/trainer.


    Be advised that political-officers are (were) reportedly attempting some control of LARAF pilots- placed in copilot position during sorties. Also there are confirmed reports of foreign or "volunteer" pilots in service for LARAF

    Su-24MK "38", shot down by ZPU-4 during fighting in Ras Lanoof.



      [Above]: Su-22M "311" apparently armed with RBK-250 cluster bombs, underway over Ras Lanoof on 10-Mar.

      LARAF update (as of 8-Mar 2011):
      Mitiga and Ghurdabiya-Syrte are in full ops. Mitiga is the centerpiece and must be very busy right now, housing:
      • 1012 Squadron with Mirage F.1EDs (or what's left of them). 
      • 1022 Squadron with Su-22M-3Ks (except they concentrated all remaining Su-22s in Ghurdabiya). 
      • 1023 Squadron with MiG-23.
      • 1039 Squadron with L-39s (these appear to be active over Zawiya). 
      • 1226 Squadron with An-26. 
      • 1230 Squadron with C-130. 
      • 1328 Squadron with Mi-8. 
      • 1314 Squadron with Mi-14. 
      • 1347 Squadron with CH-47C. 
      • Police Aviation Squadron with A.109 (supposedly, "only" nine of these are left), also at Mitiga, plus 1236 Squadron (An-26) and 1276 Squadron (Il-76) at Tripoli IAP. 

      Ghurdabiya-Syrte:
      • 1032 Squadron with Su-22M-3K. 
      • 1121 Squadron with J-21s (flown in from Ma'arten as-Sahra?)
      • 1124 Squadron with Su-24MKs (between 3 and 5 remaining).
      • 1021 Squadron's MiG-21s have been concentrated there too (they are certainly not in Tobruq any more), but maybe too short-ranged for ops in Ras Lanoof area? 
      • 020 Squadron lost the majority of its G-2s and J-21s in Misurata (quite a few were found there); the rest might have been evacuated to Ghurdabiya or elsewhere still under the control of the regime. 
      • 1308 Squadron with Mi-8.
      All media found here is for descriptive purposes and is owned by their respective parties.

      4 comments:

      1. What is your overall estimation of the LARAF? Can they hold off the rebel advance to Sirte? And how many of the fighter-bombers are still operational given reports from Al-jazeera that a substantial portion of the fleet is in bad shape?

        P.S: I found this blog that you may already know about:
        http://geimint.blogspot.com/

        ReplyDelete
      2. Hi Anonymous,

        Serviceable aircraft assessment is difficult presently. However, the initial uneven effectiveness of LARAF air-attacks could have been due to a confluents of factors including defections, then political-officers accompanying LARAF pilots during strikes (which would make sense) – Now reportedly foreign or “volunteer” pilots could be in the equation - operating LARAF aircraft in some capacity. We added new pictures of a downed Su-24MK “38”.

        - The Boresight

        ReplyDelete
      3. If the LARAF bombers are now operating at higher altitudes, does this make them less effective in terms of hitting ground targets? I have seen numerous videos where this seems to be the case.

        Also assuming that the Rebels gain access to Man potable SAMs i.e Stinger variants, will these have any serious strategic and tactical impact on how the war is fought?

        ReplyDelete
      4. Hi Anonymous,

        We have yet to see evidence of LARAF aircraft using expendables (chaff/flare), so the summation would be (at this point) that the threat (real or perceived) from rebels with Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS/MPADS) is low. The situation in Libya has been a labyrinth of unknowns that could effect the outcome: pilot defections, copilot/back-seaters replaced with political officers, use of pilot mercenaries, the state of repair/disrepair and true capabilities of LARAF aircraft/systems/munitions - and then just overall historical combat proficiency. The fact that the regime wants its two F1 aircraft (defections) back from Malta might be revealing? One would have thought just a handful of F-22s (even if they never fire a shot) would be enough to scare off regime air strikes and keep the LARAF out of the picture (and on the ground). If F-22 is as good as proponents claim – Raptor would operate with impunity over 1960-70s-80s era Libyan air-defenses and “rollback” of Libyan air defenses (systematically locating and knocking them out) becomes an unnecessary extravagance?

        ReplyDelete