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Libya’s rebel air force at war

Photo: via Arnaud Delalande


The December issue of Combat Aircraft sees Arnaud Delalande bring detailed coverage of operations by the Libya Dawn Air Force (LDAF), which has played an important role in the ongoing campaign to rid the Libyan city of Sirte from insurgents of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Mirage F1ED serial 508 seen from the cockpit of Mirage serial 502. copyright F.S.

The LDAF has faced huge obstacles in its attempts to defeat IS and establish itself as the preeminent air arm in Libya. As well as a lack of aircraft, spares and cash, the LDAF has suffered a number of losses in recent months. Most notably, on June 2, during an attack on IS positions in Sirte, one of the LDAF’s two Mirage F1ED fighters was hit by ground fire that damaged the fuel pump. The pilot, a Portuguese mercenary, was killed.

The accompanying video, published by, was taken during the ‘opening’ of Misurata air base to international journalists on September 4. This unprecedented access revealed an LDAF fleet that consisted of two MiG-23MLD fighters, 10 L-39 Albatross jet trainers, five G-2 Galeb jet trainers, one J-21 Jastreb light attack aircraft, two Mi-24P attack helicopters and one Mi-8T transport helicopter. Meanwhile, the sole remaining Mirage F1ED was in storage.


The exact number of pilots available to the LDAF is unclear, but the air arm is known to have suffered from shortages of both aircrew and maintainers. One mercenary pilot left the LDAF this summer after refusing to bomb the Libya National Army (LNA), loyal to the government in Tobruk. Another mercenary pilot carried out several air strikes against IS and LNA targets, and was soon joined by additional foreign arrivals.

See the December edition of Combat Aircraft for more.


Posted in Features, News


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