New satellite photos of Al Khadim air base taken in December 2016 clearly indicate that the United Arab Emirates is on the verge of deploying fighter jets to Libya, War is Boring news website wrote on Monday.
The news website added that the Emirati planes would back up Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army is one of two major regimes vying for control of the failed state.
To extend its support of the LNA into western Libya, the UAE will probably have to forward-deploy jet-powered F-16s or Mirage 2000s. The Emirates already have experience with foreign fighter deployments. The UAE air force maintains a base at Assab airport in Eritrea, from where the Emiratis operate Mirage 2000s and Wing Loongs, the website indicated.
According to War is Boring, the Mirage 2000s would be very effective in Libya. With the Wing Loongs helping to spot targets, the nimble Mirages could drop precision-guided munitions.
The deployment of Mirage 2000s “could eventually also allow an offensive towards Fezzan” in southwestern Libya, said Wolfgang Pusztai, Austria’s former defense attaché to Italy, Greece, Tunisia and Libya, it also added.
“But there is still doubt that the LNA has the capability to take cities like Misrata,” Pusztai continued. Emirati air strikes could effectively bottle up militants in the city. “The Misratan would certainly realize that they can forget any major offensive to take the oil crescent.” He told the news website.
“Such a powerful capability would encourage the Misrata even more to seek direct negotiations with the LNA — which would be very positive.” Pusztai indicated.