Not “just” 8 but “at least” 14 Russian unmarked MiG-29 and Su-24s have been delivered to Libya.
On May 26, U.S. Africa Command released the first official assessment of the deployment to Libya of a certain number of Russian MiG-29s and Su-24s that was exposed by satellite images emerged last week.
Interestingly, along with the details about the deployment and a single satellite shot of a MiG-29 being towed at Al Jufra Air Base, AFRICOM also released a series of photographs and stills of Russian fighter jets, including MiG-29s, Su-34s and Su-35s, shot by spyplanes or drones’ EO/IR sensors or targeting pods. However, some of those shots were probably not taken “near Libya”.
Interesting set of photos chosen by @USAfricaCommand for their assessment: along with the sat image of the MiG-29 and shots of the Russian aircraft on the ground in Syria, there are some photographs (Su-34, jets with markings, etc) which don’t seem to be linked to this deployment https://t.co/bTQo4ahSMI
— David Cenciotti (@cencio4) May 26, 2020
Anyway, following on the first release, AFRICOM has just published additional details and satellite images across its social network channels.
“Over multiple days in May, Russian MiG 29s and SU-24 fighters departed Russia. At that time, all the aircraft have Russian Federation Air Force markings. After they land at Khmeimin Air Base in Syria, the MiG 29s are repainted and emerge with no national markings.
They are flown by Russian military members & escorted by Russian fighters based in Syria to Libya, landing in Eastern Libya near Tobruk for fuel. At least 14 newly unmarked Russian aircraft are then delivered to Al Jufra Air Base in Libya.”
Few sentences full of interesting details. First and foremost, the number of aircraft is higher than initially rumored: it’s “at least” 14 jets rather than 8. Moreover, it’s been confirmed that the jets (with markings painted over) were delivered to Al Jufra with a stopover in Eastern Libya for fuel. Then, it’s also been confirmed that the unmarked aircraft were escorted by Russian fighters based in Syria (most probably Su-35s, the same types that have had a tense close encounter with a P-8 off Syria).