Libyan Air Force loses another MiG-23


The Libyan Air Force has lost another MiG-23, which was apparently shot down over Benghazi. It is the third MiG-23 lost this year.

The pilot, Colonel Idriss al Obeidi, was apparently killed when the aircraft was shot down on 6 July by Islamic State.

Benghazi was also where the previous MiG-23 was shot down, on 12 February. Libyan Air Force Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Saqr al-Jaroushi, said at the time that the two-seat aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery while carrying out air strikes against Islamic militants. The crew were believed to have ejected safely. The aircraft was bombing positions of the Mujahideed Shura Council, a coalition of Islamist militias affiliated to al-Qaeda.

A MiG-23MLD was lost on 8 February when it crashed near the eastern city of Derna after attacking Islamic State fighter positions. The LANA news agency, which is close to the recognised government, blamed “technical problems” for the downing, but the spokesman for a coalition of Islamic militias in Derna, Abdul-Moneim al-Shairy, confirmed that his group fired at the jet.

The Libyan Air Force is believed to only have one Sukhoi Su-22 and 17 MiG-21s operational. Apparently the two-seat Su-22UM-3K was only recently made airworthy by cannibalising other grounded aircraft.

Libya’s internationally-recognized government is battling various militant groups, including Islamic State and a rival alliance of local Islamist forces. Its air force has conducted air strikes against various targets, including oil tankers, and sunk vessels the government has accused of carrying fighters, weapons and ammunition.