Drone Wars Over Libya

  • By Our Bureau
  • 03:27 PM, May 27, 2020
  • 2128

Since last year, the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Haftar Armed Forces/Libyan National Army (HAF/LNA) have turned to using unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) as main means to conduct airstrikes, surveillance and drop precision-guided munitions.

This has brought the Turkish-made Byratkar and Chinese Wing Loong drones face to face in a battle of drones never before seen in a combat environment.

Highlights of HAF/LNA drone deployment:

HAF’s Chinese Wing Loong II can deliver over eight times the weight of explosive ordnance against ground targets than the GNA-AF Bayraktar TB2.

A United Nations Security Council (UNSC) report on the Libyan conflict has documented some deadly attacks using Wing Loong II Drones by Haftar Armed Forces/Libyan National Army.

5 August 2019: Delivery of explosive ordnance from HAF Wing Loong II during four air strikes against Tebu civilian neighborhoods in Murzuq resulting in 42 fatalities.

15-16 August 2019: HAF drones drop cluster munitions in Zuwarah airport using Wing Loong II Drones.

23 September 2019: Satellite imagery of Chinese drone launching BA-7 missile in western Libya

Deadly drone attacks by GNA using Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones:

29 May 2019: GNA releases video imagery of precision UCAV air strike against HAF in Qasr bin Ghashir

May 2020: Bayraktar TB2 drones are said to have blown up at least 3 Pantsir air defense systems and a Chinese Wing Loong drone in the past week.

Drones under attack:

3 August 2019: Wing Loong II crashes at Abu Ghrayn, five BA-7 missiles found in its immediate vicinity

14 May 2019: HAF shoots down unidentified GNA drone (suspected to be Bayraktar) near Jufra

6-7 June 2019: Two Turkish drones destroyed in HAF airstrikes at Misrata air academy

30 June 2019: Third Bayraktar shot down

Combat drone- Bayraktar TB2- delivery by Turkey to GNA:

First batch (4 units) of Bayraktar drones delivered to GNA via MV Amazon ship in February 2020

Late May: GNA starts building CUAV facility at Misrata air academy

Delivery of approximately 8 more drones in June and July

UNSC report: Between 27 May and 16 June, Turkey delivers 53.6 tons of “drone parts” and other UAV components to Misrata.

4 June 2019: First assembly of Turkish drones observed in Libya’s Misrata city

Late August: Delivery of a third batch of Bayraktar TB2s to Misrata

In addition to the Wing Loong and Bayratkar, other drones used in Libya are as follows:

For Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, the GNA has acquired Orbiter-3 while HAF has bought Orlan-10, Mohadjer and Yabhon-HMD drones.