Tripoli, 20 June:
Libya’s dilapidated air force is set to be substantially enhanced under plans announced by the air force chief of . . .[restrict]staff, Saqr Geroushi.
Geroushi disclosed that under the proposals, special consideration has been given to those countries which supported Libya during last year’s revolution, including France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The air force is currently putting forward proposals to purchase two squadrons of French Rafale fighter aircraft, as well as a number of French F1-Mirage jets. There are also plans to purchase Eurofighter Typhoons from the United Kingdom, as well as C-130 Hercules cargo planes and Chinook helicopters from the United States.
The bulk of Libya’s existing air force, which is reckoned to include around 28 aircraft and nine helicopters, originated in the Soviet Union.
Geroushi said that the plan required the distribution of the new aircraft across Libya, stipulating the intention to base the Eurofighters at Tobruk and Benina airbase in Benghazi, with the French fighters being based at Gordabaya and Wattya military airbases to cover the entire Libyan south. The military airbases at Jufrah, Sebha and Kufra will also be used, it was announced.
The airman added that all outstanding contracts signed under the previous regime were now under review, and that some would likely be cancelled.
Commenting on the air force’s current operations, Geroushi said that its main priority was border security, adding that his aircraft were flying regular sorties along Libya’s borders. [/restrict]