Thursday, March 22, 2018

Libya weekly situation report 15-21 March

The Libyan National Army has launched its “law enforcement operations” in southern Libya by deploying reinforcement on the Brak al-Shati airbase. Shells continue to fall in several parts of the city of Sebha. In eastern of the country, LNA members suffered an attack by militants of the Derna Mujahideen Shoura Council (DMSC) which captured tanks and vehicles. Libyan coast guards rescued about 200 migrants while an incident occurred with a Spanish NGO ship which was rescuing 216 migrants in international waters. Coast guards also intercepted a Greek oil tanker with the flag of Togo which was carrying about 950,000 litres of fuel.

This report includes :
- Situation in southern Libya
- Situation in eastern Libya
- Situation in western Libya
- Coast guards activities
- Foreign military flights
- Demining activities

To access to the full PDF report (1,300 words, 7 pages), please contact Arnaud Delalande

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Libya weekly situation report 8-14 March

The situation in the Sabha region is still unsafe. Heavy fighting are still ongoing between Tebu and Awlad Suliman militias. The Libyan National Army loyal to Field-Marshall Haftar uses Mi-35 helicopters to performed armed-reconnaissance mission over the city.  In the Ajdabiya area, Islamist State militants claimed an attack against a LNA checkpoint and fighting continued in the perimeter of the city of Derna. Off Tripoli, 575 refugees and migrants were rescued by Libyan Coast Guard vessels.

To access to the full PDF report (720 words, 5 pages), please contact Arnaud Delalande

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Four Years After an ISIS Massacre, the Iraqi Air Force Opens a New Academy

Cessna 172 Skyhawks and 208 Caravans used by U.S. Air Force and Iraqi air force instructor pilots to train Iraqi students seen at Kirkuk in July 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Feb. 21, 2018, the Iraqi government announced that the Iraqi air force had reopened its academy at Balad air base. U.S. Central Command announced that the Coalition Aviation Advisory and Training Team will help establish standardized training programs. Forty cadets will start their coursework in March 2018.

Before June 2014, the academy was located at Combat Outpost Speicher in Tikrit. Between June 11 and 14, Islamic State insurgents captured the outpost — and the academy — and killed no fewer than 1,500 Shia air force cadets. Cadet training transferred to Al Kut air base in 2015.

The recent history of Iraqi air force training is a complicated one. Iraqi pilot cadets have undergone instruction in Iraq with U.S. trainers, in Jordan and in Pakistan. The current reforms could bring student pilots home to Iraq.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Iraq’s Chinese-Made Killer Drones Are Actually Pretty Good

On Feb. 12th, 2018, the Iraqi ministry of defense released a video depicting its Chinese-made CH-4B armed unmanned aerial vehicles. The brief report underscores the type’s success in Iraqi service.

The video claims that the CH-4B drones have executed most of their attack and reconnaissance missions in northwest Iraq. Since their entry into operational service, they have performed no fewer than 260 air strikes against Islamic State targets, with a success rate close to 100 percent.

Iraq ordered its CH-4Bs from China in 2014, probably after the visit to Iraq by the Chinese foreign minister in February of that year. The CH-4 is inspired by the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and is designed by China Aerospace Long March International.

Iraq’s Chinese-Made Killer Drones Are Actually Pretty Good - CH-4Bs have proved effective against Islamic State

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Egypt Launches a Major Offensive Against Islamic State

On Feb. 9, 2018, Egyptian army spokesman Col. Tamer El Refai announced that the Egyptian armed forces had launched the largest-ever offensive against Islamic terror groups in Sinai, the Nile Delta and the western desert close to the Libyan border.

The Egyptian air force quickly carried out around 30 air strikes south and west of the Rafah and Sheikh Zweid areas, as well as in northern and central Sinai. The day before the beginning of Operation Sinai 2018, Cairo ordered a state of emergency at hospitals in northwest Sinai. Security measures were in place at schools and government buildings.

This is not the first time that Egyptian government has announced a “final” operation against terrorists. The offensives have never yielded the results officials predict. On the contrary, terror attacks have increased in number and intensity.

Egypt Launches a Major Offensive Against Islamic State - Don't expect the terrorists to surrender

Friday, February 2, 2018

My publications in February 2018

In my regular column for Air Forces Monthly magazine - the Flashpoints - I talk about the modernization of the Malian Air Force in the February issue. I examine the slow but steady build-up of the Malian Air Force, which has overcome great odds to tackle both Tuareg rebels and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

American Rushes to Help After a Storm Nearly Wipes Out the Chadian Air Force

On July 1, 2017, severe wind and heavy rain inflicted significant damage to a large number of Chadian air force aircraft stationed at N’Djamena air base. Three of the air force’s six Fennec helicopters and several hangars were seriously damaged or even totally destroyed.

Less severe damage was observed on at least one MiG-29, one PC-12 and two Su-25s that were struck by debris as hangars collapsed over them.

These losses represented a major blow to Chad’s campaign against the Boko Haram militant group. Recognizing this, the U.S. military rushed to help the Chadians rebuild.

American Rushes to Help After a Storm Nearly Wipes Out the Chadian Air Force - U.S. airmen build shelters, train Chadians on new planes

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Libyan National Army Targets Sudanese and Chadian Militants

FACT fighters in Libya

Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army — a top contender for control of Libya — has launched a retaliatory offensive targeting Sudanese and Chadian militias in the war-torn country’s south.

Libya’s civil war grows only more complex.

On Jan. 15, 2018 near the Jaghboub Oasis, close to the Egyptian border in Libya’s northeast, Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement fighters killed six soldiers from the Libyan National Army’s 106th Infantry Brigade and the 501st Brigade. JEM captured one LNA soldier.

The 106th is a salafist Brigade led by Abdulrahman Hashim Al Kilani from the southern Kufrah region. The 501st Brigade is a small reconnaissance unit that is normally responsible for protecting and securing of Tobruk International Airport and Gamal Abdel Nasser air base.

Three days after the ambush, the LNA launched Operation Desert Fury. It began with air strikes targeting militia vehicles.

The Libyan National Army Targets Sudanese and Chadian Militants - Civil war gets more complicated

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

30 years ago, French and American Scooped Up Soviet Weapons in Chad

During the so-called Toyota War in 1987, forces loyal to Chadian president Hissene Habre fought the Libyan army … and won.

In early January 1987, Chadian troops carried out a devastating attack on the city of Fada, killing 784 Libyan troops and capturing six SF.260 light strike planes, one Mi-25 gunship, 13 T-55 tanks, 118 BMP-1 armored vehicles, one P-15/Flat Face radar and 81 soldiers. In addition, the Chadians shot down a Mi-25 on Jan. 4 and a MiG-23 on Jan. 5.

All that captured equipment represented a potential intelligence boon for the United States. As the fighting died down, the Pentagon went shopping in Chad.

The Pentagon Scooped Up Soviet Weapons in Chad in 1987 and ’88 - Libya left behind missiles, jets and helicopters

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My publications in January 2018

To get off to a good start this year 2018, two of my stories are published in January issues of "Defense et Securite Internationale" (No.133) and "The Aviation Historian" (No.22). The first analyzes the involvement of Nigerian and Chadian air forces in the fight against Boko Haram since 2011. The second tells the epic story of the Gabonese Presidential Guard squadron in which flew several former pilots of the French Air Force especially on the famous Douglas AD-4 Skyraider.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nigeria and Allies Launch a Major Attack on Boko Haram

On Jan. 14, 2018, Boko Haram – an Islamist group from northeast Nigeria led by jihadist leader Abubakar Shekau – released a video depicting the remains of a Nigerian air force Mi-171 helicopter the group claimed it shot down.

The alleged shoot-down occurred amid an intensive new offensive targeting the group. On Jan. 8, Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon launched an operation aimed at two Boko Haram factions in the group’s Nigeria stronghold. The day the operation began, another Mi-17 crashed during a mission in northeast Nigeria.

Nigeria has battled Boko Haram since 2011. Cameroon, too, has fought the group for years. In mid-January 2015, the Chadian National Assembly approved Pres. Idris Déby’s request to deploy soldiers to support Cameroon.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A U.S. Air Force C-141 Almost Got Itself Shot Down Over Chad

During France’s intervention in the Chad-Libya war in 1987, the French restricted air traffic over Chad. No aerial traffic was allowed in an area that extended from the 16th parallel to the outskirts of the capital N’Djamena.

Civilian pilots didn’t always respect these air-traffic measures, especially as civil flights that sought to save fuel by cutting through the forbidden zone.

It was dangerous air space. Over the summer of 1987, Libyan Tu-22s and Il-76 cargo planes acting as bombers struck several towns near the 16th parallel, in particular Faya-Largeau. The Il-76s dropped dozens of pallets of bombs on a palm grove near the town, killing several local people.

On Sept. 7, 1987, French troops fired a HAWK missile and shot down a Libyan Tu-22 bomber over N’Djamena. Two days later, an unknown aircraft flew over Chad toward the capital. It was flying at subsonic speed and not responding to radio calls.

A U.S. Air Force C-141 Almost Got Itself Shot Down Over Chad - 1987 was a stressful year over Central Africa

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What did the French shoot down over Chad in July 1988 ?

After years of conflict, on Sept. 10, 1987, Chad and Libya agreed to a ceasefire the next day at noon. However, Libyan air patrols continued. Indeed, Muammar Gaddafi seemed to believe any military action short of an actual attack was acceptable.

Not coincidentally, in October the United States handed over the first Stinger missiles to the armed forces of Chad. On Oct. 8, the Chadians shot down a Libyan Su-22 and a MiG-23.

In March 1988, French forces in Chad were on alert. Intelligence had warned of  significant troop movements in southern Libya. France added defenses to air bases at Timou, Tanoua and Maaten-es-Sara to make them less vulnerable to Chadian raids.

But the Libyans didn’t attack.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

French Fighter Jets Spent 1986 and ’87 Chasing Libyans Over Chad

In mid-February 1986, French forces launched Operation Épervier — France’s intervention in the Libya-Chad war. The French air force deployed to Chad’s capital N’Djamena around a dozen Jaguar A fighter-bombers and up to six Mirage F.1C interceptors from various units along with a few Mirage F.1CR tactical reconnaissance fighters.

The warplanes spent months chasing away Libyan planes and, more than once, came close to shooting them down.

French Fighters Spent 1986 and ’87 Chasing Libyans Over Chad - Lots of intercepts, no shoot-downs

In 1986, French Troops in Chad Faced Mysterious Attackers

On its arrival in Chad as part of Operation Épervier, France’s intervention in the Chad-Libya war, the French military set up a radar center in the town of Moussoro, north of the capital N’Djamena starting in mid-February 1986.

The radar would become the apparent target of a mysterious raiding force … and the object of a determined French defense.

The 120-mile range SNERI Centaure radar was operated by the air force and protected by infantry from the 2e REI marine infantry regiment plus a Stinger surface-to-air missile team from the 1e REI.

In 1986, French Troops in Chad Faced Mysterious Attackers - Who were the ghosts of Moussoro ?