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The Libyan Air Force (Arabic: القوات الجوية الليبية‎) is the branch of the Libyan Armed Forces responsible for aerial warfare. In 2010, before the 2011 Libyan civil war, the Libyan Air Force personnel strength was estimated at 18,000, with an inventory of 374 combat capable aircraft operating from 13 military airbases in Libya.
During May 1967 the Kingdom of Libya reached an agreement with the USA to supply 10 Northrop F-5s to the Royal Libyan Air Force. These were the first fighters for the young Air Force which only operated at the time six Douglas C-47 transports and three Lockheed T-33A trainers. Fifty-six personnel underwent training at basis in USA, pilots at Williams Air Force Base; an US Survey Team on Expansion came to Libya in August 1968 to supervise the introduction of the fighters. Serviciability of the F-5s declined after the 1969 coup and it appears that most may have eventually been sold to Turkey.
LPAF Soviet-made MiG-17/19/25 fighters and Tu-22 bombers were based at Okba Ben Nafi Air Base. After the 1969 seizure of power by Colonel Gaddafi, aircraft and personnel of the Soviet Air Force took residence at Okba Ben Nafi Air Base. With Soviet assistance, the Libyan Air Force was organized into one medium bomber squadron with Tupolev Tu-22s, three fighter interceptor squadrons, five forward ground attack squadrons, one counter-insurgency squadron, nine helicopter squadrons, and three air defense brigades deploying SA-2, SA-3, and Crotale missiles. Of the combat aircraft, the United States Department of State estimated in 1983 that 50 percent remained in storage, including most of the MiG fighters and Tu-22 bombers. In 1971, 11 civilian C-130's were delivered by the USA and converted in Italy to military versions. Four C-100-30's were purchased from the Philippines and Luxembourg in 1981. In 1976, 20 CH-47 Chinook heavy transport helicopters were acquired from Italy, 14 of which were transferred to the army in the 1990s.

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The Libyan Air Force operated a large number of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25s, some sources say more than 60 were delivered. Types were of the MiG-25PD, MiG-25RBK, MiG-25PU and MiG-25RU variants. They were operated by No. 1025 Squadron at Jufra-Hun, No. 1055 Squadron at Ghardabiya and an unidentified squadron at Sabha Air Base. As of February 2007 Air Forces Monthly reported all aircraft of the type had been retired. In addition, Dassault Mirage 5 aircraft bought after Gaddafi took power were also retired by 2008, becoming used for Pakistan Air Force spares.

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During the Libyan-Egyptian War in 1977 there were some skirmishes between Libyan and Egyptian fighters. Two LARAF MiG-23MS engaged two upgraded EAF MiG-21MF and one MiG-23MS was shot down by EAF Maj. Sal Mohammad.[citation needed]
The air force was also involved in combat against Tanzania during 1979 as part of the Uganda–Tanzania War to help its Ugandan allies, with a single Tu-22 flying an unsuccessful bombing mission against the town of Mwanza.[citation needed]

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In the 1970s and 80s Libyan Migs and Tupolevs were common visitors to the international airspace, close to Italy and NATO bases. On July 19, 1980, a Libyan MiG-23 crashed on the Sila Mountains in Castelsilano, Calabria, southern Italy. On 27 June 1980 an Italian plane exploded while on route from Bologna to Palermo, off the island of Ustica. The most accepted theory is that the aircraft was shot down during a dogfight involving Libyan and NATO fighters in an attempted assassination of an important Libyan politician, who was flying in the same airspace that evening.[citation needed] The air force lost a total of four aircraft to United States Navy F-14 Tomcats in two incidents over the Gulf of Sidra, in 1981 and 1989. In addition, many planes were destroyed or damaged on the ground in 1986 when American planes attacked targets at Benghazi and Tripoli airports. The air force was extensively used in the fighting in Chad in the 1980s, in support of Libyan ground units. It was reported that many Libyan bombing raids were carried out at excessively high altitudes when met with anti-aircraft fire so the attacks were not very effective. On 17 February 1986, in retaliation for the French Operation Epervier, a single LARAF Tu-22B attacked the airport at N'Djamena. The French air force bombed the Libyan air base at Ouadi Doum as retaliation. One Tu-22 bomber was shot down by captured SA-6 missile during an attack on an abandoned Libyan base on 8 August 1987. Another Tu-22 was lost on 7 September 1987, when a battery of French MIM-23 Hawk SAMs shot down one of the two Libyan bombers that were attacking N'Djamena.

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