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The Libyan Air Force ( , Berber: Adwas Alibyan Ujnna) is the air force of Libyamarker, with an air force personnel estimated at 22,000. There are 13 military airbases in Libya.

After U.S. forces had left Libya in 1970, Wheelus Air Basemarker, a previous U.S. facility about seven miles from Tripolimarker, became a Libyan Air Force installation and was renamed Okba Ben Nafi Air Base. OBN AB housed the LPAF's headquarters and a large share of its major training facilities.

LPAF Soviet-made MiG-17/19/25 fighters and Tu-22 bombers were based at Okba Ben Nafi Air Base. Of the combat aircraft, the United States Department of State estimated in 1983 that 50 percent remained in storage, including most of the MiG fighters and Tu-22 bombers.

History

Cold War

During the Cold War, aircraft and personnel of the Soviet Air Force took residence at Okba Ben Nafi Air Base. With Soviet assistance, the Libyan Air Force was organized into one medium bomber squadron with Tupolev Tu-22s, three fighter interceptor squadrons, five forward ground attack squadrons, one counterinsurgency squadron, nine helicopter squadrons, and three air defense brigades deploying SA-2, SA-3, and Crotale missiles.

The LAF lost a total of four aircraft to United States Navy F-14 Tomcats in two incidents over the Gulf of Sidramarker, in 1981 and 1989.

Post–Cold War

With the collapse of the Soviet Unionmarker and the elimination of military aid by the new Russian republic, Soviet/Russian support was drastically curtailed. The last major delivery of Soviet aircraft was 15 Su-24 Fencers in March/April 1989.

Much of Libyan air doctrine appears now to be of an ad hoc nature and contracted personnel from Yugoslavia, South Africa, Russia, North Korea and Pakistan provide piloting, maintenance and technical services.

UN sanctions were lifted in early 1999 and Libya has talked to Russia about upgrades for its MiG-21s and MiG-25s while also expressing an interest in MiG-29s, MiG-31s and long-range SAMs. However, many of the transport and combat aircraft are in storage.

Aircraft Inventory

Libyan Tu-22 flying in the early 1980s.
















Libya is planning to buy more than 20 Russian fighter jets in a billion-dollar arms deal with Moscow, Oct. 19. 2009.

The deal includes 12 to 15 Su-35 multipurpose fighters, four Su-30s and six Yak-130 combat training planes from Russia.

The contracts could be signed at the end of this year or the beginning of 2010 and would have a total value of about $1 billion (670 million euros).



References

  1. Middle East Military Balance: Libya
  2. Library of Congress Country Study Libya, Chapter 5:National Security, 1987
  3. Libyan military aviation OrBat
  4. Libyan Mirages in Use for Pakistan AF Spares, Air Forces Monthly, June 2008 issue, p. 32


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