The Air Force of the Libyan National Army (LNA), representing the House of Representatives (HoR)/ Abdullah Thinni government based in eastern Libya, claimed yesterday that it has received four new Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jets.
There is no independent confirmation of this claim.
The official pro HoR LANA news agency reported that ‘‘informed military sources in the Libyan National Army (LNA) confirmed on Monday that four new Sukhoi fighter jets effectively joined the squadrons of the Libyan Air Force’’
These jets would strengthen the capabilities of the LNA in the war it is waging against the ”extremist and terrorist militias” in any place in Libya, the source added .
Furthermore, the source added that the SU-27 Russian-made fighter jet is capable of covering a distance of 3,530 km with a top speed of 2,500 kmh. In comparison, commercial passenger flights from Tripoli to Benghazi take about an hour.
The report said that the source informed that the SU-27 has a 150 round G-301 gun and a number of rockets including medium range radar directed R-27R1 and R-27T1 rockets and air-to-ground munitions with weights of 100, 250 and 500 kg.
The new Sukhoi jet fighters, the source claimed, are capable of remaining in the air for longer periods and can ‘’maneuver and re-attack once, twice, three times’’, the source concluded.
If this report of the arrival of new fighter jets to one of the Libyan rivals in Libya’s bloody and destructive conflict is accurate, this could possibly mark a watershed point in the escalation of the Libyan conflict. Monday’s scheduled UN sponsored talks between the two sides were postponed ostensibly because there could not be an agreement on where to hold the talks.
Yesterday, HoR President, Ageela Salah, told the media that he did not see a military solution to Libya’s current problems and that he welcomed dialogue. Today, the General National Council (GNC) released a statement on its version of LANA saying much the same.
The statement about the Sukhois claims that they are ‘’new’’, but did not clarify if they were brand new purchases or a new addition of renovated old jets to the existing Air Force squadrons. It is not clear if these are brand new Sukhois or old Sukhoi’s repaired or loaned to Libya from neighbouring states or allies.
Libya is not listed as an official purchaser of the Russian made Sukhoi SU-27. And nor is Egypt or the UAE. However, the Ukraine is, and at an official price tag of US$ 30 million each, it is being speculated that Libya is more likely to have purchased second hand or renovated Sukhois. There is no confirmation of this, however.
What is clear is that the pro-HoR LNA is seeking to achieve an aerial advantage to make up for its ground disadvantage in western Libya. LNA fighter jets have carried out numerous air raids at the foot of the Nefusa Mountains, near Zwara and Abu Kamash, in Maetiga airport and in Misrata.
At the time that both sides are saying that they are interested in dialogue, they have both been simultaneously ratcheting up the fighting.
Meanwhile, in a further development, the LNA Air Force yesterday threatened to shoot down any Sudanese or Turkish aircraft, military or civilian, that enters Libyan airspace. Turkish airline flights to Libya have been, and are still suspended until further notice. The Sudanese airlines has not been flying to Libya.
Libya Herald staff.
This article was originally published here.