When Gaddafi ordered a MiG-23 to collide with a Libyan Arab Airlines Boeing 727 to demonstrate negative effects of international sanctions imposed on Libya

When Gaddafi ordered a MiG-23 to collide with a Libyan Arab Airlines Boeing 727 to demonstrate negative effects of international sanctions imposed on Libya

By Tom Cooper
Jul 2 2020
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The MiG-23UB crew were shocked to sense a detonation on the underside or below their aircraft. A fire broke out. A friction of second later, they saw the big fin of the Boeing 727 right in front of them, already separated from the airliner.

… in 2019, the IRGC has shot down the Ukrainian Flight 752

…in 2014, the Russians have shot down the MH17…

…in 2001, Ukraine shot down the Siberia Airlines Flight 1812….

…in 1989, a Cuban-flown Angolan MiG-23ML almost shot down a BAe-125 bizjet carrying the president of Botswana…

….in 1988, the USA shot down the IranAir Flight 655…

…in 1983, the USSR shot down the Korean Airlines 007

…and in 1973, Israel shot down the Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114…

…but, have you ever heard of the affair related to the Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 1103 – a Boeing 727 that should have collided with a MiG-23UB of the Libyan Arab Air Force near Tripoli, in 1992?

Around 0800 hrs of 22 December 1992, the Boeing 727 of Libyan Arab Airlines, registered as 5A-DIA, underway on Flight 1103 from Benghazi to Tripoli, was approaching the Libyan capital. The ground control advised the crew per radio to hold its position at 1,067m (3,500ft) above the Papa Echo beacon, about 10 kilometres (5.4nm) from Tripoli International for three minutes, due to military traffic. The ‘military traffic’ in question was a MiG-23UB of No. 1023 Squadron, crewed by Captain Abdel-Majid Tayari and a novice pilot. Following the take-off from Mitiga AB, the ground control advised Tayari to climb, turn and head towards Papa Echo.

Unaware of the airliner ahead of him, the seasoned fighter-pilot followed instructions of his ground controller to the dot and comma.

Moments later, Tayari and the student in the front cockpit were shocked to sense a detonation on the underside or below their aircraft. A fire broke out. A friction of second later, they saw the big fin of the Boeing 727 right in front of them, already separated from the airliner – and then Tayari initiated an ejection. The airliner disintegrated while still on approach to Tripoli International, killing all 157 of its crew and passengers.

Barely surviving this tragedy – Tayari suffered multiple fractures in his right hand during ejection – the crew of the MiG-23UB was shocked to find itself jailed in the hospital of Mitiga AB. The investigation of the Libyan authorities – unfairly – blamed them of either colliding with the Boeing 727, or opening fire and shooting it down: many of their superior officers and civilian servants wanted them hung on the Green Square in Tripoli.

….actually: Gaddafi ordered the flight to be shot down to demonstrate ‘negative effects of international sanctions’ – imposed on Libya after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1989: because of numerous embargos, Libyan Arab Airlines could not fly its planes safely, and thus the victims of the crash were supposed to be presented as victims of ‘Western terrorism’. A bomb with a timer had been placed on board the Boeing 727: when this failed to detonate, Gaddafi personally ordered the aircraft to be knocked out of the sky….

When Gaddafi ordered a MiG-23 to collide with a Libyan Arab Airlines Boeing 727 to demonstrate negative effects of international sanctions imposed on Libya

This story is an excerpt from the book ‘MiG-23 in the Middle East,’ available to order here.

Photo credit: Rob Schleiffert and Steve Fitzgerald via Wikipedia


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Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper, from Austria, is a military-aviation journalist and historian. Following a career in a worldwide transportation business — in which, during his extensive travels in Europe and the Middle East, he established excellent contacts — he moved into writing. An earlier fascination with post-Second World War military aviation has narrowed to focus on smaller air forces and conflicts, about which he has collected extensive archives of material. Concentrating primarily on air warfare that has previously received scant attention, he specializes in investigative research on little-known African and Arab air forces, as well as the Iranian Air Force. Cooper has published 21 books — including the unique Arab MiGs' series, which examines the deployment and service history of major Arab air forces in conflicts with Israel — as well as over 200 articles on related topics, providing a window into a number of previously unexamined yet fascinating conflicts and relevant developments.

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  1. Sweeper says:

    This article doesn’t make any sense. What actually happened? Was it an innocent collision between two planes, was it an intentional collision, or was the plane shot down. All of these are suggested or hinted at, but it is totally unclear which it was. Please make the story much clearer.

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