The Royal Swedish Air Force (RSAF) has provided an interesting update on its experiences of Libyan Ground Based Air Defences (GBAD) during the country’s support of NATO’s air campaign over the troubled country last year.
The details were provided by Lieutenent Colonel Hans Einerth who was Chief of Operations during the RSAF’s deployment to Sigonella naval air station, Sicily, in support of Operation Unified Protector. He was speaking at the annual Aerospace Forum in Sweden on 31st May.
Lt. Col. Einerth was reluctant to disclose specifics, although he did says that the Libyan ground-based air defence environment was not totally degraded by the time that the RSAF deployed on 3rd April lqst year. He added that the deployed aircraft did face some threats from Libyan GBAD, principally medium-level systems. Although Lt. Col. Einerth declined to specify the exact systems which presented a threat, it is possible that some of Libya’s mobile medium-altitude Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) were still able to present a threat to the air campaign, principally the 2K12 Kub (NATO reporting name ‘SA-6’) and 9K33 Osa (NATO reporting name ‘SA-8’) systems in possession of the Libyan armed forces.
In addition, Lt. Col. Einerth revealed that the Gripens, which were authorised by the Swedish government to provide reconnaissance provision, but not to perform air-to-ground strikes, played a key rôle in keeping track and identifying mobile Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) systems. These did provide an existential low-altitude threat, and also providing fire support to loyalist forces on the ground.