Libya may get ex-UAE Mirage 2000s


Libya may procure the United Arab Emirates’ 68 Mirage 2000 fighters once the UAE replaces them with Rafales.

Brigadier General Abdel-Moneim said Ayad, Director of Public Relations at Libya’s Interior Ministry, was quoted by the Middle East News Agency (MENA) as saying that the UAE has offered to transfer to Libya its 68 Dassault Mirage 2000s.

The UAE is considering replacing its Mirage 2000s with Rafales. Air & Cosmos magazine recently reported that all the technical and financial terms of the Rafale sale have been settled and that only a state to state defence agreement is necessary for the deal to go ahead.

In November last year Dassault hit a major stumbling block in the UAE sale for around 60 Rafales, as at the last minute crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, deputy supreme commander of the UAE’s armed forces called the deal’s terms “uncompetitive and unworkable”.

However, the French newspaper La Tribune last month reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy would travel to the UAE in March or early April to finalise the Rafale contract, which has been years in the making.

Furthermore, reports suggest that Qatar is trying to sell its Mirage 2000s to Libya – last month it was reported that Qatar was attempting to sell all 12 to the Libyan air force.

According to Tactical Report, crown Prince of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is said to have talked with Chief of Staff of the Libyan Armed Forces Major-General Yusef Al-Manqoush during their meeting on Monday in Doha, about plans to sell Qatar’s Mirage 2000-5 fighters to Libya.

Last year Qatar, a close ally of France, said it wanted to replace its Mirage fleet this year, by buying around 24 to 36 new fighters.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of this month it was reported that France will modernise a dozen of Libya’s surviving Dassault Mirage F1 fighters and provide training to Libyan pilots.

Libya bought 38 F1s in the late 1970s, but the arms embargo imposed against Libya by the United Nations (1992-2003) and United States, particularly after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, led to spares shortages, with many of the aircraft being grounded as a result. On November 8, 2006, Libya signed a contract with Astrac (a joint venture between Thales and Safran) for the refurbishment of 12 F1s. The 140 million euro contract was expected to take four years to complete.

France is retiring its F1 fleet and will withdraw its last aircraft in 2014. It has contemplated selling some of these aircraft to Libya.