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.