An early warning radar has been identified at the Libyan airbase where Russia deployed fast jets in late May, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced on 18 June.
An overhead image released by AFRICOM on 18 June shows a ‘Spoon Rest’ radar and a MiG-29 at Libya’s Al-Jufrah Air Base. (US Africa Command)
It released an overhead reconnaissance image that it said showed the ‘Spoon Rest’ radar and a MiG-29 at Al-Jufrah Air Base earlier that day. It released another image showing an Su-24 coming into land at the base.
“Russia uses this system when deployed to a nation in the conduct of tactical combat operations”, AFRICOM said.
“Russia’s sustained involvement in Libya increases the violence and delays a political solution,” said US Marine Brigadier General Bradford Gering, AFRICOM director of operations. “Russia continues to push for a strategic foothold on NATO’s southern flank and this is at the expense of innocent Libyan lives.”
It described the Libyan deployment as part of a wider drive by Moscow to expand its influence in Africa, saying Russia is the “number one arms dealer in Africa” and “continues to profit from violence and instability across the continent”.
“Russian government-backed PMCs [private military companies”, such as the Wagner Group, are active in 16 countries across Africa,” it said. “It is estimated that there are about 2,000 Wagner Group personnel in Libya.”
In May, AFRICOM first reported that “at least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s” were flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over before flying to Libya in violation of the United Nations arms embargo.