Sunday, May 12, 2019

LNA uses an Il-18D belonging to a foreign company to transport ammunition from Benina to Gharyan

On May 12th, 2019, a Russian journalist - Alexander Kots - embeded with LNA forces published the three photos below on his Twitter account revealing that LNA uses a former Moldovan Sky Prim'Air company Il-18D - serial ER-ICS - in an aerial bridge to transport, notably, ammunition from Benina to Gharyan. Kots deleted his tweet later realizing probably that he was revealing touchy information on LNA.

This Il-18D is flying in the Libyan sky for at least three years. On September 15th, 2016, it flew from Tobruk to Zintan, transporting participants to the Nalut Reconciliation Conference. On November 25th, the same Il-18D flew from Tobruk to Benina air base loaded with equipment and, supposedly, medical supplies for hospitals and clinics in and around Benghazi. According to the LNA, the consignment of medicine and health equipment had arrived the day before at Tobruk on a flight from Germany.

On December 15th, it hauled 60 million dinars from Libya’s central bank to Birak Al Shati.

The same aircraft landed at Zintan on January 1st, 2017 with Libyan military officers on board. The officers had recently graduated from training in Jordan.

On August 24th, 2017, it was seen at al-Jufra airbase and was used to transport LNA soldier bodies killed by ISIS in an attack the days before.

Sky Prim'Air like Oscar Jet belonged to a Moldovan family, the Ghilan. Their fleet carried out cargo flights toward, from and inside Libya in profit to the LNA which have only old aircraft from Kadhafi period - an Il-76TD and a C-130. In June 2017, United Nation Security Council Panel of experts report on Libya revealed that this Il-18D was spotted on satellite imagery at the UAE airbase of al-Khadim in eastern Libya. According to the report, the plane with Moldovan registration numbers does not have an official owner and is not registered in any country. However, until July 2015, it belonged to Moldovan company Grixona SRL, which in the meantime changed its name twice: initially - in Sky Prim Air SRL, and in 2016 it is renamed Terra Avia SRL. The company belongs to Moldovan Grigore Ghilan. A week before the aircraft was removed from the Republic of Moldova's airline, the businessman was decorated by President Nicolae Timofti with the "Labor Glory" order for merits in civil aviation.

In November 2017 RISE Moldova investigated about suspected flights of Moldovan immatriculated aircraft in Libya. RISE Moldova learned that Grigore Ghilan had as business partners two Russian citizens of Arab origin who were involved in a scandal over Armenia's illegal arms transport to Libya. It's about Malik Bilal and Mukhammad Amir. Several years ago, the two owned nearly half of the share capital of Grixona SRL. And now, Malik Bilal, along with Vladimir Ghilan, is the founder of Oscar Jet SRL.

On April 11th, 2019, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Republic of Moldova reported that restrictive measures were imposed on certain air carriers operating flights outside the Republic of Moldova (Middle East, Asia and the Pacific) by prohibiting the operation of an aircraft (Oscar Jet) and the suspension of Air Operator Certificate (AOC) for Terra Avia - former Sky Prim'Air renamed in 2016 as mentioned above - and Fly Pro. Despite this suspension , it seems that Il-18D serial "ER-ICS" still fly and has changed hands and is now owned by a Kazakh unknown company.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Remains of Chinese made missiles found in Tripoli points to Wing Loongs airstrikes

As part of Operation Taoufane al-Karama, the accuracy of night air strikes has become unusually high for at least a week. The past days, many pictures of remains of missiles were sent to me for identification pointing they could have been launched by foreign air forces during night airstrikes around Tripoli. The photos have been taken in fighting in Wadi Rabe on April 17th and in Aziziya and comparison with Chinese made Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) LJ-7, also known as 'Blue Arrow-7', confirmed that this type of missiles was used in the two air strikes. Some Blue Arrow 7 missiles fragments were found following night air strikes on :

- Wadi Rabe' south of Tripoli on April 17th
- Al-Hira on April 20th
- El-Azizia on April 20th
- Ain Zara on April 21th

The LJ-7 missile is an ATGM derivative of a semi-active laser guided HJ-10 for export market. The missile has been displayed at Eurosatory 2012 as the Blue Arrow 7. It is also used for armor penetration is up to 1400 mm; it is achieved by increasing the warhead and reducing the fuel, resulting in the reduction of the maximum range.

On April 19th, 2018, a LJ-7 missile shot from a drone was used by the Saudi-led coalition to assassinate the president of Houthi Supreme Political Council Saleh Ali al-Sammad.

The LJ-7 missile can be loaded on Wing Loong 2 UAV, in service notably with United Arab Emirates Air Force which deployed some of them at al-Khadim airbase in eastern Libya and with Egypt Air Force.

Al-Khadim is a former airport located in al-Marj province in eastern Libya. Since June 2016, Emirates IOMAX AT-802 “Air Tractor” turboprop aircraft and Chinese-made Wing Loong UAV have been deployed on this airbase on which extension works started to increase its capacity. The existing parking area was equipped with a dozen of shelters, half of them used to house aircraft and drones.

This small fleet was engaged in airstrike and reconnaissance missions in support of Libyan National Army troops fighting islamist groups in Benghazi, in particular the Islamic State et the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, or BRSC - a group with ties to Al Qaeda. A second parking area was under construction since September 2016 in the base’s southeast corner. A dozen of large shelters were built and half of the new tarmac was achieved on February 2017. The size of these infrastructures is large enough to host fighter jets like F-16s, Mirage 2000s or even Rafales.

Tripoli is far from this UAE-built airbase, so the Wing Loongs might be operated from an alternative runway close to the Tripoli front in order to stay longer in the air for carrying out Close Air Support (CAS) to LNA.