Thursday, 17 April 2014

LN: Gaddafi may attack opponents with Czech fighters

ČTK |
28 February 2011

Prague, Feb 26 (CTK) - Communist Czechoslovakia delivered 181 L-39 Albatros fighter planes to Libya in the 1980s that can still be used by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the current unrest there, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes Saturday.

Albatros's predecessor L-29 Delfin ("Dolphin") proved an ideal weapon in the struggle against ground targets such as in the conflict in Nigeria in the late 1960s, LN writes.

The history may repeat. Delfin helped massacre the rebels in the Nigerian province of Biafra in the late 1960s and then Gaddafi used the Albatrosses to put down a rebellion in Benghazi and other Libyan towns in 1979, LN writes.

Unlike supersonic fighters, Albatroses are suitable to eliminate ground targets, including demonstrations. Though they were delivered to Libya more than 20 years ago and Libya has not been receiving spare parts over an embargo since 2004, they are still fully operational, LN writes.

Some experts say over 100 Albatroses still fly in Libya. Officially, they are called training aircraft, but they can not only shoot from their machine guns, but also carry bombs, it adds.

In the 1980s, Czechoslovak pilots even trained Libyan pilots to attack U.S. aircraft carriers, LN writes.

A certain number of Albatroses still fly in Libya, Lenka Klichova, director of the sales department of the firm Aero Trade that offers spare parts and other services for Albatros, is quoted by the paper as saying.

Albatroses are still the most numerous training jet aircraft in the world, LN writes.

"The number 110 seems to me exaggerated, but there are still many in full operation there," Klichova said.

Klichova said both her firm and other Czech aircraft suppliers had been trying to make some deals in Libya.

"However, on Thursday the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry started administrative proceedings on the removal of export licences to Libya," Klichova said, adding that her firm would immediately suspend its activities in Libya.

Czech dealers exported military materiel worth 100 million crowns to Libya over the past four years, LN writes.

Part of it were spare parts for Albatroses, it adds.

Albatros's manufacturer Aero itself was unable to provide the information, LN writes.

When asked about the use of the aircraft, an unnamed Aero military department employee told the paper: "So you want to find out what is killing the people?"

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