Monday, March 7, 2011

(#Libya) Where's #Gaddafi's Migs and Mirages?

I'm afraid Gaddafi and his sons are not going anywhere any time soon, contrary to the rumor earlier today. The Gaddafis are playing a cat and mouse game. The so-called retreat by the pro-Gaddafi forces from opposition-held towns may be a teaser. Just a test. To sucker in the ill-equipped, untrained opposition forces to the trap.

Why do I think that way? Because his Migs and Mirages haven't arrived to the scene yet.

From Germany's Der Spiegel (3/4/2011) [emphasis is mine]:

Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has always paid special attention to his air force, staffing it with his most loyal followers and supplying it with the best training and equipment. The recent bombing raids in Brega might just be a small foretaste of the overwhelming punch his air power can deliver.

Although a large part of Libya's army has defected and joined the rebel forces, its air force appears to have remained almost completely loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. Indeed, it is one of the main factors still propping up the regime and the most serious threat to the insurgents who control the eastern part of the country.

Libya's air force is made up of roughly 18,000 men and women, most of whom are staunch supporters of the regime. The elite military branch recruited from followers who were 100 percent loyal to the regime, and members of Gadhafi's Gadhadfa tribe and its closely allied Magariha tribe were given preference during the selection process for recruits. They have shown a blind obedience to their commander in chief. Only a handful of pilots and officers have switched sides to join the opposition.

In return for their loyalty, Gadhafi has always made sure that members of the air force received the best training and equipment. The fighter wing is reportedly made up of roughly 100 MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighter jets as well as 15 Mirage F-1 and 40 SU-22 planes. The arms depots are thought to be filled to the rafters with munitions.

The planes' missiles are from the arsenals of the former Soviet Union or of more recent Russian makes, according to a report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. The report also states that Libya's air-defense system is very well equipped. As Lieutenant-General David Deptula, who recently retired from his position as an air force expert at the Pentagon, told Britain's The Economist, if the West decides to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, the country's surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) could present a serious danger to Allied jets.

Read the whole article at the link. It doesn't paint a rosy picture of a quick victory for the opposition at all. Instead, it indicates a long, protracted war, which the opposition doesn't have an edge over the Gaddafis and their supporters, other than the moral support from the people around the world and a disjointed effort by the Western governments to organize some sort of military intervention to help the opposition.


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