Analysis: US confirms deployment of Russian MiG-29 and Su-24 fighter aircraft in Libya

According to satellite pictures released by the United States Africa Command website on June 18, 2020, United States Africa Command confirms that Russian fighter aircraft MiG-29 and Su-24 are deployed in Libya. Russian aircraft delivered to Libya in late May 2020 are being actively flown in Libya.

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US confirms deployment of Russian MiG 29 and Su 24 fighter aircraft in Libya 925 001 In this picture, the U.S. intelligence services have identified Russian Spoon Rest radar and MiG-29 fighter aircraft in al-Jufra, Libya. (Picture source U.S. Africa Command)

These Russian aircraft are being used to support private military companies (PMCs) sponsored by the Russian government. U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) has photographic evidence of a Russian aircraft taking off from al-Jufra, Libya. A MiG-29 was also photographed operating in the vicinity of the city of Sirte, Libya.

In late May, USAFRICOM reported that at least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s were flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their Russian origin. These aircraft were then flown into Libya in direct violation of the United Nations arms embargo.

In the first picture, United States intelligence analysts have identified MiG-29 Russian-made fighter aircraft and a Spoon Rest, mobile early warning radar system, designed to provide tactical support to military activities. In the second picture, we can see a Russian-made Su-24 Fencer landing from al-Jufra, Libya.

The Mikoyan MiG-29 (NATO name Fulcrum) is a fourth-generation jet fighter aircraft designed and manufactured in Russia. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Russian Air Force in 1983 and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other nations.

Armament for the MiG-29 includes a single GSh-30-1 30 mm cannon in the port wing root. This originally had a 150-round magazine, which was reduced to 100 rounds in later variants. Original production MiG-29B aircraft cannot fire the cannon when carrying a centerline fuel tank as it blocks the shell ejection port. This was corrected in the MiG-29S and later versions. Three pylons are provided under each wing (four in some variants), for a total of six (or eight). The inboard pylons can carry either a 1,150 liter (300 US gal) fuel tank, one Vympel R-27 (AA-10 "Alamo") medium-range air-to-air missile, or unguided bombs or rockets. Some Soviet aircraft could carry a single nuclear bomb on the port inboard station. The outer pylons usually carry R-73 (AA-11 "Archer") dogfight air to air missiles, although some users still retain the older R-60 (AA-8 "Aphid"). A single 1,500-litre (400 US gal) tank can be fitted to the centerline, between the engines.

US confirms deployment of Russian MiG 29 and Su 24 fighter aircraft in Libya 925 002
In this picture, the U.S. intelligence services have identified Russian fighter Su-24 Fencer landing at al-Jufra, Libya. (Picture source U.S. Africa Command)

The Su-24 front-line attack aircraft/interdictor is manufactured by the Sukhoi Design Bureau Joint Stock Company, based in Moscow, and the Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association, Novosibirsk, Russia. The Su-24M entered service in 1983, a development of the Su-24, known by the NATO codename "Fencer". The first production Su-24 went airborne on December 31st, 1971.

More than 1,400 of the aircraft were produced in all variants. Today, the Russian Air Force operates 400 upgraded Su-24M/M2 aircraft, but these are being replaced by the Su-34 and are due for complete withdrawal from service in 2020.

The Su-24's fixed armament is single fast-firing GSh-6-23 cannon with 500 rounds of ammunition, mounted in the fuselage underside. The gun is covered with an eyelid shutter when not in use. The armament includes various nuclear weapons. Two or four R-60 (NATO AA-8 'Aphid') infrared missiles are usually carried for self-defence by the Su-24M/24MK.