Aviation Historian 20
A.Delalande, T.Cooper - An eye for an eye
Libyan MiG-25P “6716” is seen here carrying a comprehensive collection of air-to-air missiles for its interceptor role, including a pair of R-60s (Nato reporting name AA-8 Aphid) on the outer pylons, with a pair of much larger R-40s (Nato reporting name AA-6 Acrid) on the inners.
A McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom of US Navy unit VF-51 intercepts one of the Libyan Arab Air Force’s Tu-22 Blinders over the Mediterranean during the latter’s delivery flight in April 1977. Note the red, white and black Egyptian-style roundel and fin flash used by LAAF aircraft during 1969-77.
Armee de I’Air Sepecat Jaguar “A 89” (coded 11-MM) of Escadron de chasse 2/11 "Vosges" at N’Djamena International Airport with a freshly applied coat of desert camouflage and carrying a pair of 125kg Societe des Ateliers Mecanique de Port-sur-Sambre (SAMP) bombs on the starboard underwing pylon.
A transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) vehicle for a French Crotale short-range all-weather anti-aircraft missile system stands guard at N’Djamena airport. In the background is a recently-upgraded Armee de I’Air C-135FR with turbo fans.
Dassault Mirage F1C “279” (coded 5-NK) of Escadron de chasse 1/5 “Vendee” (and wearing the “Jeanne d’Arc” fin insignia of Escadrille SPA.124, the third flight of the squadron) awaits its next sortie from N’Djamena airport. Note the Matra R.550 Magic Mk 1 infra-red homing air-to-air missile fitted to the aircraft’s port wingtip.
A Mirage F1C, coded 12-YB, of Escadron de chasse 1/12 “Cambresis” approaches an Armee de I’Air C-135FR tanker to replenish its fuel supply during a combat air patrol over Chad. It carries a Matra Magic on each wingtip, but its usual load of a pair of Matra Super 530F-1 medium-range AAMs on its inboard underwing hardpoints is missing here.
When the Federation of Arab Republics was disbanded in 1977, new national insignia were adopted by the LAAF, comprising a plain dark green flag and roundels, as seen here. This Tu-22 is shown with a FAB-1500M-54 bomb, as carried by LAAF Blinders on strikes against N’Djamena and Abeche on September 7, 1987.
The Tu-22 was known as "the flying tank" in Libyan service, not only because of its sheer size and brute power, but also because of its lack of finesse as a flying machine; it was exceptionally hard to master and fly with precision. INSET The squadron badge of the LAAF’s No 1111 Sqn, featuring the unit’s winged-tiger motif.
LEFT Locals inspect the wreckage of the Blinder shot down by 403 RA during the LAAF bombing sortie on N’Djamena in September 1987.
RIGHT One of the three FAB-1500 bombs carried by the Tu-22; it was not armed when the bomber was hit, so the French recovered it from the wreckage and put it on display at their HQ.
Originally designed as a supersonic intercontinental bomber and missile carrier, the prototype Tu-22 made its maiden flight on June 21, 1958. Despite its science-fiction looks, the type was always a handful to fly and a comparatively small number, just over 300, was built. Fitted with state-of-the-art camera equipment in the nose, this is a reconnaissance variant, Nato codename Blinder-C.