A high-level intelligence source revealed additional information about a military cargo plane that was targeted and bombed early Tuesday at Misrata Air College by the Libyan National Army’s Air Force.
[Libya, 6 August 2019] – A video footage showed a huge explosion followed by a successive series of explosions, which confirmed the nature of the cargo that was transported by the destroyed aircraft. The Libyan National Army (LNA) confirmed, in a statement issued yesterday, that the military cargo plane was delivering ammunition, weapons and guided missiles for the Turkish drones operating in Libya.
A high level source, who requested not to be identified, our reporters said that the targeted plane was an Ilyushin 76 that took off from an airstrip designated for military missions at Ankara Esenboga Airport towards its final destination at the Misrata Air College, where it was targeted by an air strike that delivered a direct hit which penetrated the middle structure of the plane one hour after its landing at the Misrata Air College.
The intelligence source confirmed that the crew of the Ilyushin was not given any time after landing to unload their military cargo, or even move the plane on the runway to escape from the Misrata airbase due to control over the airspace and the surrounding area by the attacking plane since 11 pm. It was at this time that Libyan and Turkish ground crews, and the crew of the doomed Ukrainian aircraft noticed a plane flying over their airspace. The pilot of the military cargo plane tried to conduct taxiing on the tarmac near the civil aviation section to camouflage the nature of the cargo. The Ilyushin 76 crew sent a signal to the Misrata Air Traffic Control that there was an imminent danger in the sky, and it was too late to unload the plane.
صحيفة المرصد الليبية@ObservatoryLY
فيديو | إنفجارات من موقع إستهدفه القصف الجوي الليلة بالكلية الجوية #مصراتة أكدت القيادة العامة بأنه كان عبارة عن طائرة شحن من طراز ” إليوشن 76 “ فور هبوطها بالقاعدة قادمة من #تركيا وهي محملة بالسلاح والصواريخ الموجهة التي يستخدمها سلاح الجو التركي المسير العامل في #ليبيا .#المرصد
The source added that the plane was registered and owned by a Ukrainian shipping company operating in Turkey, and it has two offices, in Ankara and Istanbul, from where it runs its operations. This plane was registered in the Ukraine, and this is not the first time it airlifted shipments to Misrata. It was preceded by two flights, on Saturday and Sunday, in addition to a previous flight on 21 July. Since then, the Libyan National Army (LNA)’s intelligence assets have been monitoring the nature of its operations, and the cargo it transports, to ascertain whether it was a hostile target or not.
The source also confirmed that the previous shipments transported by aircraft, as well as another plane owned by the same Ukrainian company, were in fact military shipments, weapons and ammunition. According to the intelligence information that was collected during the monitoring, investigation and tracking operations, it was clear that at least two flights transported special equipment and materials to build a Turkish military facility in the eastern part of the Misrata Air College.
Background on the Cargo Plane
The investigative team at Al Marsad found that the Ilyushin 76 cargo plane took off from Ankara Esenboga Airport at 8:15 pm, Libya local time, and landed at Misrata Air College airstrip at 11 pm with flight number: KTR-7721.
Recording the last flight of this aircraft from Ankara to Misrata:
The targeted aircraft bears the UR-COZ registration code and has already been found to be owned by a company in Istanbul named Alpha Air before it was transferred to another Ukrainian company that was established in 2017.
SKY AVIA TRANS is the second company to which the ownership of this aircraft was transferred. Al Marsad team conducted a background check, and found that it is a start-up company in the air cargo and charter flights sector; the company was established and registered in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on 20 January 2017.
Further research showed that the aircraft received an air transport license issued by the European Union on 17 January 2018, a year after its registration in the Ukraine, which casts doubts on the company, and puts it in an embarrassing situation before the international community, which would apply sanctions for violating the embargo imposed by the United Nations resolutions that ban import, export, and transportation of weapons and military equipment to Libya.
Two Flights Destined for Failure and Destruction
The data of the targeted aircraft investigated by Al Marsad, shows the arrival of two flights from Ankara to Misrata. It was strange that the first flight that entered the airspace of the city of Misrata at 3:40 pm was unable to land on the airport runway for unknown reasons.
Recording the first flight when the plane was approaching the runway without completing its gradual landing towards Misrata air base:
Failure to complete landing was not due to technical reasons, as aviation data indicate that both the altitude and speed of the aircraft were stable in the approach-for-landing protocol, indicating there was no technical malfunction. This aircraft, which could not complete its gradual descent, had the same flight number, TKR-7721, meaning that the “second” plane that was destroyed was in fact the “first” plane completing the assignment that it failed to deliver on the first flight.
Data of the first flight indicate that it was in an approach-for-landing position and descended to an altitude of 18 thousand feet at 388 knots, before its crew decided not to complete the landing, rising again to an altitude of 27 thousand feet at 463 knots, then to an altitude of 31 thousand feet at 478 knots.
The first flight data also shows that the plane was approaching the airstrip, descending gradually off the Misrata coast for about 30 minutes before its crew decided to return to Ankara at 4:16 without landing at Misrata airport. The plane returned to Turkey with flight number TKR-7722, and landed in Ankara at 5:52 pm. This indicates that the reason for the non-completion of the landing protocol was not technical; otherwise, the plane would have changed its flight number as it remained after arriving in Ankara until 8:15 pm for two hours and 26 minutes, which is insufficient time to conduct any real plane maintenance works before taking off again as noted above on the second flight to Misrata with the same cargo.
Recording of the plane as it flew back to Ankara due to non-completion of landing in Misrata:
Sky Avia Trans: No Comment
On the two flights, as shown in the pictures and footages above, especially the first flight which returned to Turkey, the pilot closed the tracking device of the aircraft and kept it on the off mode since the plane took off from Ankara. However, the pilot turned the tracking device on when he started the approach-for-landing at the Misrata Air College. Unable to land, the pilot decided to fly back to Turkey. On the second flight, the flight crew turned on the tracking device and turned it off at 9:38 pm, about half an hour before the final landing. A simple analysis of the two flights indicates that the first flight was a round-trip, whereas the second flight was a one way flight; both flights were conducted by the same doomed plane that was destroyed last night in Misrata.
The company says on its official website that it has obtained its operational license in accordance with European rules and regulations, and presents its staff as specialists with longstanding experience in the aviation industry, who can deliver highly efficient services, and that the company is seeking to consolidate its position in the air transport market in the Ukraine; displaying photos of its fleet of owned and leased planes that the company boasts have the capacity to fly from, and land on, unpaved runways in any place, and under any circumstances.