The Free Libyan Air Force

The picture above shows part of what’s come to be known as the Free Libyan Air Force; basically former government pilots who have defected to the Libyan rebel cause. These Mig-21s (probably three of the four known to have defected in March) are shown flying over the rebel-held city of Benghazi’s Benina Airport late last month despite the NATO-enforced no-fly zone — which ostensibly bans the rebels from flying as well as grounding Gadhafi’s air force.  But remember, this is technically a no-fly, no-drive zone and NATO has allowed the rebels  to drive a-plenty.

We’ve shown you plenty of pictures of the Libyan rebels makeshift weaponry this shows them operating some legit heavy military equipment. Oh, and don’t forget, we’re recognizing the rebels as the official government of Libya now.

Some speculate the Migs could be acting as an escort for Air Libya’s British Aerospace 146 (shown below) cargo plane that’s being used to link Benghazi with the rebel’s tiny new airstrip at Rhebat, in the Nafusa region; the anti-Gadhafi forces’ remote mountain redoubt south of Tripoli.

As you can see, the strip at Rhebat is pretty narrow and only small planes than can safely taxi on unpaved surfaces can operate from it. Again, these resupply flights must have been approved by NATO.

Via David Cenciotti.


  • USSHelm

    The man in the bottom photo appears to be carrying either a M-16 or maybe an AR-15. And one of those MiG-21s looks like it is a training variant, as it has two-seats. The loadout on the MiGs appears to be a centerline drop tank, and 1 or 2 rocket pods or iron bombs.

    • TLAM Strike

      The rifle looks to me to be a FN FAL.

      And yes the left most MiG is a ‘Mongol’ training aircraft and they all have a centerline tank and what looks like UB-16-57UMP rocket pods.

      • Chimp

        Could be an L1A1. Can’t see a carry handle, though that could be folded / broken (most L1A1’s are pretty decrepit by now) but the front stock looks to me more like a worn out wooden one than black plastic. Then again, it depends where the strap hooks on… that tends to suggest an FN.

        • WARMASTER

          Nobody knows what a L1A1 is, not even me, and I’m a military expert, it could be an M-16 model thow.

          • tiger

            The UK semi auto version of the FN FAL. Standard rifle from the 1950 into the Falklands war.

  • Andrew

    That is not an M-16, or any variant thereof. It is most likely a FN FAL. In most pictures of rebels you see them armed with AKs and FALs/possibly some older G3s.

  • Lance

    Thats a FAL and those MiGs may be allowed to fly but I doubt they will break the Libyan grip on Tripoli Almost all of the area Qaddafi has is from his tribe and they wont allow the Islamist rebels to take over its a stalemate and a few old and under armed and poorly trained MiGs wont turn the tide.

    • LOLcat

      You were wrong weren’t you.

  • Sarek

    Serving for interests of the West imperialism?

    Libya is more free with Kadaffi.

    • steve

      You needed to keep Kadaffi in check. blowing up an airliner, not nice.

      • Petrock

        A pox on them all, arm both sides and let them kill each other.

  • JoTape

    a very strange “no-fly” zone ! :-)

  • I liked the one of the four engine cargo plane on what looked like was a road way in the first picture and in the second one looked like it ran off the road with the nose wheel. What a way to run a war. Think these pictures were for the benefit of the western world.

  • Infidel4LIFE

    When i see the news, im surprised to see so many using FAL’s. They must be oldies but goodies. Nice rifle.

    • Ehran

      couple hundred yards more effective range than the current fad of overpowered 22’s is nice especially in areas where the sightlines are long.

  • Tiger

    Notice Obama gets zero questions on Libya???? This lie about protecting civies has gone on long enough. Other than being some live fire exercise for NATO, what is the point of this mission as we are about to start August? STILL no Congressional authority & a UN mandate that has gone way over mandate.

  • raymond

    what other kind of planes /drones do the rebels use ?


    Sarek, you must like Gaddafi so much, and raymond, other free libyan air force aircraft include Soveit mig-23s and mabye mig-25s and French F1 mirages fighters, Soveit mi-24s, mi-14s, mi-17s, mi-8s, and mi-2s and even American ch-47 helicopters, American c-130s, British Aerospaces, and Soveit II-76s and An-26 transports, Canadian Aeryon scouts UAVs, and several trainers. They also have a few big SAMs and several small SAMs