A Libyan MiG-25PU made airworthy by the Libya Dawn militia group has crashed after apparently attempting to bomb an airport.
The two-seat aircraft came down near Zintan while attempting to bomb the airfield there. It was completely destroyed in a post-crash fire.
Photos have shown the crashed aircraft as well as the alleged pilot, who is said to have ejected and been captured by men linked to the Libyan National Army, which is fighting Libya Dawn. The Libyan National Army claim the aircraft was shot down.
The crash may have happened on the aircraft’s first combat sortie after being returned to airworthy status by Libya Dawn. Earlier this year it emerged that the group was making a number of MiG-25 aircraft operational, with satellite imagery showing three of the aircraft moved to an air base in Misrata.
Google Earth satellite imagery from 31 January showed one MiG-25 parked at the base but imagery taken on 28 February showed three. A photo surfaced showing people apparently working on a two-seat MiG-25PU painted with post-Gaddafi roundels and carrying an unguided bomb under its wing.
According to IHS Jane’s, Libya acquired 96 MiG-25PD interceptor, MiG-25PU trainer and MiG-25RBK reconnaissance aircraft in the late 1970s and early 1980s. None of these were based at Misrata and it appears that most Libyan MiG-25s were unserviceable by the time of the 2011 conflict.
Libya Dawn apparently has two Soko G-2 Galeb and several Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros jet trainers operational and will soon start flying a MiG-23UB, two Galebs and several L-39s. A Libya Dawn MiG-23UB was shot down on 22 March whilst attacking Zintan airport. The group controls Mitiga Air base in Tripoli, home to several MiG-23s.
Forces from Libya´s internationally recognised government control most of the combat aircraft in Libya but both government forces and Libya Dawn pilots have carried out tit-for-tat air strikes against each other. Earlier this year the Libyan Air Force bombed Mitiga in Tripola, Misrata airport and Jufra Air Base near Sirte while Libya Dawn has attacked Zintan airport.
Forces loyal to Army General Khalifa Haftar last year claimed a number of Sukhoi Su-24 fighter-bombers were brought back into service after not having flown since the 2011 civil war. The Libyan Air Force base at Binina outside Benghazi is loyal to Haftar and has a number of flyable MiG-21s and MiG-23s. Apparently several L-39s and Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters are also flyable.