By Maha Sulaiman.
Benghazi, 15 February 2016:
A senior military source has told the Libya Herald that the air force fighter lost . . .[restrict]over Benghazi last Friday crashed after being hit by a missile, not, as originally claimed, as a result of mechanical failure.
The MiG-23 warplane was shot down over Ganfouda, not Hawari, as first reported, and crashed into the sea. The pilot, Nasr Al-Shaafi, who was initially believed to have survived, is thought to be dead. He ejected but also landed in the sea. The loss of the aircraft off the coast means that it is unlikely that the airframe can be examined to see precisely what brought it down.
The crash of this MiG-23 came only four days after the loss of another near Derna. That too was blamed on mechanical failure, though IS claimed that they had shot it down. The senior military source however had no comment on that crash.
It now seems clear that the terrorists have the use of improved ground-to-air weaponry. Until recently their main defence against air attacks were anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back of the ubiquitous Toyota pick-ups. One security analyst believes that they have acquired portable missile launchers – MANPADS – whose rockets follow the heat from the engines of targeted aircraft. [/restrict]