Monday 18 August 2014

Kh-29 Air-To-Surface Missiles Used As Unguided Rockets In Libya

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans


In a series of photos coming out of Tripoli, Libya, it appears that forces belonging to Libya's National Salvation Government (more commonly known as Libya Dawn) are now using highly sophisticated guided missile weaponry in the ground-to-ground role. The missile used was taken from a weapon depot near Ghardabiya airbase, near Sirte. The missile, a Kh-29T, normally uses TV-guidance to reach its intended target. In Libyan service, the Kh-29T was solely used on the Su-24 delivered from the Soviet Union in the late 80s.

In the early stages of the Libyan Civil War, 1124 Squadron flew a number of sorties with the remaining two operational Su-24MKs against National Liberation Army positions near Ra's Lanuf. In the course of these operations, one Su-24MK was brought down. The remaining operational Su-24MK and non-operational Su-24MKs were subsequently destroyed by NATO air strikes at Ghardabiya airbase.
The weaponry once bought to be used by these Su-24s was now useless as no other aircraft in Libyan inventory was capable of carrying these weapons. This left sophisticated KAB-1500 laser-guided bombs, Kh-25, Kh-29L and Kh-29T air-to-surface missiles without operator.

It now appears efforts have been made to make some of this weaponry usable again, albeit not in their intentional role. The Kh-29T depicted in the launch photos had its fins and ailerons at the front and back removed for a somewhat more stable flight path in the unguided ground-to-ground role. The size of the warhead was obviously the reason these missiles are now used in their new role, packing a 320 kilogram heavy warhead.

Considering Libya Dawn is in the possession of a large stock of missiles, more launches are to be expected.

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