By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
In a series of photos coming out of Tripoli, Libya, it appears Libya Dawn is now using highly sophisticated guided missile weaponry in the ground-to-ground role. The missile used was taken from a weapon depot near Ghardabiya airbase, near Sirte. The missile, a Kh-29T, normally uses TV-guidance to reach its intended target. In Libyan service, the Kh-29T was solely used on the Su-24 delivered from the Soviet Union in the late 80s.
In the early stages of the Libyan Civil War, 1124 Squadron flew a number of sorties with the remaining two operational Su-24MKs against National Liberation Army positions near Ra's Lanuf. In the course of these operations, one Su-24MK was brought down. The sole operational Su-24MK and the two non-operational Su-24MKs were subsequently destroyed by NATO air strikes at Ghardabiya airbase.
The weaponry once bought to be used by these Su-24s was now useless as no other aircraft in Libyan inventory was capable of carrying these weapons. This left sophisticated KAB-1500 laser-guided bombs, Kh-25, Kh-29L and Kh-29T air-to-surface missiles without operator.
It now appears efforts have been made to make some of this weaponry usable again, albeit not in their intentional role. The Kh-29T depicted in the launch photos had its fins and ailerons at the front and back removed for a somewhat more stable flight path in the unguided ground-to-ground role. The size of the warhead was obviously the reason these missiles are now used in their new role, packing a 320 kilogram heavy warhead.
Special thanks to Khaled Ben Alewa.