The Libyan National Army (LNA)’s al-Jufra air base has now been buttressed by the transfer of Russian-made Buk missile systems.
“Buk (M1-2 or M2) medium-range surface-to-air missile systems are transferred to LNA’s al-Jufra air base to protect it from incoming airstrikes of Turkish F-16 fighter jets! Several ex-UAE Army's Pantsir S1E systems are still based there,” Babak Taghvaee, a military expert, said in a tweet Tuesday.
It is not clear who sent the Buk systems to the Libyan air base.
Last week, the Pentagon accused Russia of having flown at least 14 fighters (MiG-29s, Su-35s) to join Wager Group mercenaries allied with the LNA, led by putschist commander Khalifa Haftar. The jets were repainted in Syria’s Khmeimin air base to camouflage their Russian origin, US Africa Command said.
In what could escalate into some serious aerial campaign, Turkey has now reportedly sent a C-130 Hercules cargo plane carrying tens of mercenaries escorted by F-16 fighters into Libya to support Government of National Accord (GNA) forces fight Haftar’s Army.
“Turkey is settling in for a long time in Libya: Turkish Air Force’s Erkilet based 222nd Squadron’s Lockheed C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop military transport climbed out of Istanbul Grand over Bosphorus and now is flying to Misrata. This is the 8th flight in the last 6 days,” Yörük Işık, a Turkish journalist, tweeted on May 26.
Stung by series of defeats including losing an air base (al-Watiya) and a number of United Arab Emirates (UAE)-supplied Pantsir S1 missile systems and Chinese-built Wing loong drones, warlord Haftar has sworn to strike back with what he calls would be "the largest aerial campaign in Libyan history."