IHS Jane’s 360: Russia’s air force is using Libyan eastern airfield

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 23 July 2016 showing UAE air activity at Al-Khadim Airport in Libya. Air operations are conducted from a bermed compound established between March and June 2016. (CNES 2016, Distribution Airbus DS / 2016 IHS)

Russian military aircraft have landed at an airport in eastern Libya that has been used as a military base by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), IHS Jane’s 360 reported Friday.

Open source ADS-B transponder signals have shown that two Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) Tupolev Tu-154M passenger aircraft have flown at least two missions via Al-Khadim airport.

The flights on 17 and 22 October both involved the aircraft landing there as they returned from Khartoum in Sudan en route to Russia’s Humaymim Air Base in western Syria.

On 4 October a VKS Il-76 transport aircraft flew from Humaymim past Crete, but tracking data is not available to determine its destination, IHS Jane’s 360 added.

Also known as Al-Kharouba airport, Al-Khadim is inside territory controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA): the most powerful faction in eastern Libya that is led by Khalifa Haftar, who was a general in the 1980s before going into exile. UAE military aircraft were seen there in 2016 as new hangars and other infrastructure were constructed.

The UAE aircraft appear to have flown combat missions in support of LNA operations against Islamist militant factions in Libya, IHS Jane’s 360 indicated.

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