The Libyan Army has claimed to have destroyed two Russian-made Pantsir air defense systems besides Chinese Wing Loong II drones of the renegade commander Khalifa Belqasim Haftar.
“The Army carried out airstrikes against Haftar militias at the Al-Watiya airbase southwest of capital Tripoli. We destroyed a Pantsir-S1 missile system and a Wing Loong II drone supplied to them by the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” Libyan military spokesman Col. Mohamed Qanunu said in a statement on Sunday.
“Two arms depots at the airbase were also targeted by the Libyan army,” Qanunu added.
A day earlier, another Pantsir had been destroyed by the Libyan forces.
The Al-Watiya base was captured by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) in August 2014 at a time when several Su-22 bombers and Mi-25 gunships were being housed.
The Libyan “Drone War”:
Since last year, the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Haftar Armed Forces (HAF) have turned to using unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) as main means to conduct airstrikes and drop precision-guided munitions. The GNA and HAF use Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 and Chinese-made Wing Loong II drones respectively.
The UAE supplied the drones and BA-7 air-to-surface missiles used by Haftar’s forces, after 2011. The BA-7 ASM is ballistically paired to fly with the Wing Loong.
Abu Dhabi has also reportedly purchased China’s CH-4 drones, considered similar to US’ MQ-9 Reaper, to arm the HAF.
A report by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) states: “Analysis of the capabilities of each UCAV system shows that HAF currently has a significant tactical advantage.”
The Chinese Wing Loong II can deliver over eight times the weight of explosive ordnance against ground targets than the GNA-AF Bayraktar TB2 can. In addition, HAF drones are being operated using a satellite data link covering all of Libya. “This provides HAF with a full offensive capability and allows it to achieve local air superiority,” the report said.
For Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, the GNA has acquired Orbiter-3 while HAF has bought Orland-10, Mohadjer and Yabhon-HMD drones.