Avions Marcel Dassault Mirage F.1ED
c/n 502, LAAF serial 502
1012 Squadron, Libyan Arab Air Force (LAAF)
el-Woutia AB/Uqba Ibn an-Nafi AB (forward deployed at Mitiga/Umm Aititiqah AB) February 2011
In 1977, Libya issued an order for 16 Mirage F.1ED ("Export Décembre"] interceptors, equipped with Cyrano IV radars, as well as Matra R.530 and R.550 Magic air-to-air missiles. This aircraft was the second Mirage F.1ED delivered to Libya, in June 1978. It served with No.1012 Squadron Libyan Arab Air Force through the 1980s, and encountered USN interceptors on at least two occasions. The unit also saw several combat deployments during the war in Chad, in the 1980s. After Libya run out of spare parts for its F.1, this aircraft was stored, together with the rest of the fleet, in mid-1990s. Following a corresponding agreement between Tripoli and Paris, in late 2007, a contract was awarded to a French company, worth slightly over €100 Million, for an overhaul of 12 Libyan Mirage F.1EDs and F.1DDs - as a stop-gap measure until Libya would order 14 Rafale fighters. The work was undertaken by French personnel at the Mitiga AB, and "502" became one of the first three examples to be overhauled, by October 2009. In the afternoon of 21 February, while forward-deployed at Mitiga AB, in Tripoli, the crews of No.1012 Squadron were ordered to fly strikes against widespread unrest against the Libyan regime. Two of pilots from this unit manned Mirage F.1EDs with serial numbers "502" and "508", each armed with MBDA (former Matra) Type F1 rocket pods with frangible aerodynamic nose cones, packing 36 Thales (former TDA Armememts) SNEB unguided rockets calibre 68mm. Following take-off, the pilots decided to disobey their orders and defected to Malta, requesting political asylum. The Mirage F.1EQ "502" is ever since impounded at Luqa IAP, Malta.
Artwork and caption by Tom Cooper / ACIG.org