Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Iraq’s Chinese-Made Killer Drones Are Actually Pretty Good

On Feb. 12th, 2018, the Iraqi ministry of defense released a video depicting its Chinese-made CH-4B armed unmanned aerial vehicles. The brief report underscores the type’s success in Iraqi service.

The video claims that the CH-4B drones have executed most of their attack and reconnaissance missions in northwest Iraq. Since their entry into operational service, they have performed no fewer than 260 air strikes against Islamic State targets, with a success rate close to 100 percent.

Iraq ordered its CH-4Bs from China in 2014, probably after the visit to Iraq by the Chinese foreign minister in February of that year. The CH-4 is inspired by the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and is designed by China Aerospace Long March International.

Iraq’s Chinese-Made Killer Drones Are Actually Pretty Good - CH-4Bs have proved effective against Islamic State

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Egypt Launches a Major Offensive Against Islamic State

On Feb. 9, 2018, Egyptian army spokesman Col. Tamer El Refai announced that the Egyptian armed forces had launched the largest-ever offensive against Islamic terror groups in Sinai, the Nile Delta and the western desert close to the Libyan border.

The Egyptian air force quickly carried out around 30 air strikes south and west of the Rafah and Sheikh Zweid areas, as well as in northern and central Sinai. The day before the beginning of Operation Sinai 2018, Cairo ordered a state of emergency at hospitals in northwest Sinai. Security measures were in place at schools and government buildings.

This is not the first time that Egyptian government has announced a “final” operation against terrorists. The offensives have never yielded the results officials predict. On the contrary, terror attacks have increased in number and intensity.

Egypt Launches a Major Offensive Against Islamic State - Don't expect the terrorists to surrender

Friday, February 2, 2018

My publications in February 2018

In my regular column for Air Forces Monthly magazine - the Flashpoints - I talk about the modernization of the Malian Air Force in the February issue. I examine the slow but steady build-up of the Malian Air Force, which has overcome great odds to tackle both Tuareg rebels and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

American Rushes to Help After a Storm Nearly Wipes Out the Chadian Air Force

On July 1, 2017, severe wind and heavy rain inflicted significant damage to a large number of Chadian air force aircraft stationed at N’Djamena air base. Three of the air force’s six Fennec helicopters and several hangars were seriously damaged or even totally destroyed.

Less severe damage was observed on at least one MiG-29, one PC-12 and two Su-25s that were struck by debris as hangars collapsed over them.

These losses represented a major blow to Chad’s campaign against the Boko Haram militant group. Recognizing this, the U.S. military rushed to help the Chadians rebuild.

American Rushes to Help After a Storm Nearly Wipes Out the Chadian Air Force - U.S. airmen build shelters, train Chadians on new planes

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Libyan National Army Targets Sudanese and Chadian Militants

FACT fighters in Libya

Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army — a top contender for control of Libya — has launched a retaliatory offensive targeting Sudanese and Chadian militias in the war-torn country’s south.

Libya’s civil war grows only more complex.

On Jan. 15, 2018 near the Jaghboub Oasis, close to the Egyptian border in Libya’s northeast, Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement fighters killed six soldiers from the Libyan National Army’s 106th Infantry Brigade and the 501st Brigade. JEM captured one LNA soldier.

The 106th is a salafist Brigade led by Abdulrahman Hashim Al Kilani from the southern Kufrah region. The 501st Brigade is a small reconnaissance unit that is normally responsible for protecting and securing of Tobruk International Airport and Gamal Abdel Nasser air base.

Three days after the ambush, the LNA launched Operation Desert Fury. It began with air strikes targeting militia vehicles.

The Libyan National Army Targets Sudanese and Chadian Militants - Civil war gets more complicated

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

30 years ago, French and American Scooped Up Soviet Weapons in Chad

During the so-called Toyota War in 1987, forces loyal to Chadian president Hissene Habre fought the Libyan army … and won.

In early January 1987, Chadian troops carried out a devastating attack on the city of Fada, killing 784 Libyan troops and capturing six SF.260 light strike planes, one Mi-25 gunship, 13 T-55 tanks, 118 BMP-1 armored vehicles, one P-15/Flat Face radar and 81 soldiers. In addition, the Chadians shot down a Mi-25 on Jan. 4 and a MiG-23 on Jan. 5.

All that captured equipment represented a potential intelligence boon for the United States. As the fighting died down, the Pentagon went shopping in Chad.

The Pentagon Scooped Up Soviet Weapons in Chad in 1987 and ’88 - Libya left behind missiles, jets and helicopters

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My publications in January 2018

To get off to a good start this year 2018, two of my stories are published in January issues of "Defense et Securite Internationale" (No.133) and "The Aviation Historian" (No.22). The first analyzes the involvement of Nigerian and Chadian air forces in the fight against Boko Haram since 2011. The second tells the epic story of the Gabonese Presidential Guard squadron in which flew several former pilots of the French Air Force especially on the famous Douglas AD-4 Skyraider.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nigeria and Allies Launch a Major Attack on Boko Haram

On Jan. 14, 2018, Boko Haram – an Islamist group from northeast Nigeria led by jihadist leader Abubakar Shekau – released a video depicting the remains of a Nigerian air force Mi-171 helicopter the group claimed it shot down.

The alleged shoot-down occurred amid an intensive new offensive targeting the group. On Jan. 8, Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon launched an operation aimed at two Boko Haram factions in the group’s Nigeria stronghold. The day the operation began, another Mi-17 crashed during a mission in northeast Nigeria.

Nigeria has battled Boko Haram since 2011. Cameroon, too, has fought the group for years. In mid-January 2015, the Chadian National Assembly approved Pres. Idris Déby’s request to deploy soldiers to support Cameroon.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A U.S. Air Force C-141 Almost Got Itself Shot Down Over Chad

During France’s intervention in the Chad-Libya war in 1987, the French restricted air traffic over Chad. No aerial traffic was allowed in an area that extended from the 16th parallel to the outskirts of the capital N’Djamena.

Civilian pilots didn’t always respect these air-traffic measures, especially as civil flights that sought to save fuel by cutting through the forbidden zone.

It was dangerous air space. Over the summer of 1987, Libyan Tu-22s and Il-76 cargo planes acting as bombers struck several towns near the 16th parallel, in particular Faya-Largeau. The Il-76s dropped dozens of pallets of bombs on a palm grove near the town, killing several local people.

On Sept. 7, 1987, French troops fired a HAWK missile and shot down a Libyan Tu-22 bomber over N’Djamena. Two days later, an unknown aircraft flew over Chad toward the capital. It was flying at subsonic speed and not responding to radio calls.

A U.S. Air Force C-141 Almost Got Itself Shot Down Over Chad - 1987 was a stressful year over Central Africa

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What did the French shoot down over Chad in July 1988 ?

After years of conflict, on Sept. 10, 1987, Chad and Libya agreed to a ceasefire the next day at noon. However, Libyan air patrols continued. Indeed, Muammar Gaddafi seemed to believe any military action short of an actual attack was acceptable.

Not coincidentally, in October the United States handed over the first Stinger missiles to the armed forces of Chad. On Oct. 8, the Chadians shot down a Libyan Su-22 and a MiG-23.

In March 1988, French forces in Chad were on alert. Intelligence had warned of  significant troop movements in southern Libya. France added defenses to air bases at Timou, Tanoua and Maaten-es-Sara to make them less vulnerable to Chadian raids.

But the Libyans didn’t attack.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

French Fighter Jets Spent 1986 and ’87 Chasing Libyans Over Chad

In mid-February 1986, French forces launched Operation Épervier — France’s intervention in the Libya-Chad war. The French air force deployed to Chad’s capital N’Djamena around a dozen Jaguar A fighter-bombers and up to six Mirage F.1C interceptors from various units along with a few Mirage F.1CR tactical reconnaissance fighters.

The warplanes spent months chasing away Libyan planes and, more than once, came close to shooting them down.

French Fighters Spent 1986 and ’87 Chasing Libyans Over Chad - Lots of intercepts, no shoot-downs

In 1986, French Troops in Chad Faced Mysterious Attackers

On its arrival in Chad as part of Operation Épervier, France’s intervention in the Chad-Libya war, the French military set up a radar center in the town of Moussoro, north of the capital N’Djamena starting in mid-February 1986.

The radar would become the apparent target of a mysterious raiding force … and the object of a determined French defense.

The 120-mile range SNERI Centaure radar was operated by the air force and protected by infantry from the 2e REI marine infantry regiment plus a Stinger surface-to-air missile team from the 1e REI.

In 1986, French Troops in Chad Faced Mysterious Attackers - Who were the ghosts of Moussoro ?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My publications for December 2017

This month, in the latest issue of the "Avions de Combat" magazine, I am pleased to sign an article about the Battle of Fallujah, an Iraqi city that could not have been liberated without the air support of the coalition, particularly the Royal Air Force, which had already been widely engaged in the battle of Ramadi. In issue 358 of "Air Forces Monthly", my usual "Flashpoint" is dedicated to the Battle of Marawi. I look at the development of the Philippine Air Force’s offensive capabilities and how these were put to use in the recently concluded campaign to liberate the city.

Ce mois-ci, dans le dernier numéro du magazine "Avions de combat", je suis heureux de signer un article sur la bataille de Fallouja, une ville irakienne qui n'aurait pu être libérée sans le soutien aérien de la coalition, en particulier la Royal Air Force, qui avait déjà été largement engagée dans la bataille de Ramadi. Dans le numéro 358 de "Air Forces Monthly", mon "Flashpoint" habituel est dédié à la Bataille de Marawi. Je me penche sur le développement des capacités offensives de l'armée de l'air philippine et comment elles ont été utilisées dans la campagne récemment terminée pour libérer la ville.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The UAE Is Getting Ready to Deploy Jets to the Libya War

New satellite imagery from Terra Server — dated Sept. 24 and Nov. 10, 2017 — show accelerating construction on Al Khadim air base in eastern Libya.

And that’s strong evidence that the United Arab Emirates is preparing to intervene even more in the grinding Libyan civil war. The imagery of Al Khadim, located in Al Marj province, depicts a new large parking area and aircraft shelters that could accommodate jet fighters.

The UAE Is Getting Ready to Deploy Jets to the Libya War - Base construction hints at air-war escalation

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

LIBYE – Risques de conflagration dans le Croissant pétrolier

Malgré l’expulsion de l’État islamique (EI) en Libye de Syrte et Benghazi en 2016 déjà, le groupe terroriste a commencé à se réorganiser et a pu attaquer à la fois l’Armée nationale libyenne (ANL – fidèle à l’homme fort de l’est du pays, le maréchal Khalifa Haftar, qui règne à Benghazi) et les milices de Misrata. En mai 2017, le groupe a pris pour cible un convoi appartenant à la Troisième Force de Misrata (une milice controversée soupçonnée de crimes de guerre lors du « massacre de Brak al-Shati », base aérienne du sud-libyen où, le 18 mai 2017, la Troisième Force tua 134 personnes dans les rangs de l’ANL et parmi les civils, plusieurs militaires ayant été tout simplement exécutés).

LIBYE – Risques de conflagration dans le Croissant pétrolier

Despite the expulsion of the Islamic State (IS) in Libya from Sirte and Benghazi the past year, the group started to reorganize and was able to attack both Libya National Army and Misrata militias. In May 2017, the terrorist group targeted a convoy belonging to the Misrata Third Force, a controversial militia suspected of war crimes in the so-called “Brak al-Shati massacre” the same month by killing 134 people in LNA ranks, and among civilians some of them simply executed.

LIBYA – Risks of a conflagration in the Oil Crescent