Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as various online media reported that Russia has delivered six MiG-29 fighters and a pair of Su-24M attack jets to Al-Jufrah air base in central Libya, controlled by Libyan National Army. These planes are obviously meant to support the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar, which has been engaged in a civil war with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
The MiG-29BM is a Belarusian variant indicating Russia traded some other military goods to procure Belarusian legacy aircrafts. Since LNA has no trained pilots, most of their aircraft and helicopters are operated by Belarusian and Syrian pilots.
This move most likely results in another major escalation of the civil war as it comes amid an exchange of threats between Haftar’s faction and Turkey, which supports the UN-recognized GNA. Just this week, GNA-aligned forces massively engaged LNA soldiers in the western part of the country, recapturing the Al-Watiya air force base.
A satellite photo appears to show a MiG-29 deployed at Al-Jufrah. While Moscow has denied any deliveries of the above mentioned hardware to Libya, various sources confirm that the aircraft reportedly were flown in via Astrakhan air base (Russia), made a refuel stop at Hamadan (Iran) and Hmeimim AFB (Syria) before escorted at least part of the way to Libya by two Su-35S fighters of the Russian Federation – Aerospace Forces (RF VKS).
The most logic source of the funding appears to be UAE, which apparently went shopping to Minsk in order to source Belarus Air Force examples of MiG-29BM and Su-24M for the LNA. Since the MiG-29 would be an entirely new type for the LNA, it is likely that Belarusian and probably Syrian Fulcrum pilots are also involved in the operation. The move has created a stir in Belarussian journalist circles which appear to be quite interested to know the details of this transaction and how their pilots ended up in Libya.
As a sidenote, this is not for first time, that the LNA is getting ex-Belarus Air Force aircraft. Back in 2014, UAE procured in Minsk four Mi-24P attack helicopters for the LNA which used them against Turkey- and Qatar backed Libyan Dawn faction.
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