Forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) last week fired Scud missiles into eastern Libya during the Al-Karama missile exercise in southern Benghazi.
During the drill, the Al-Karama Missile Battalion launched at least four Scud missiles at targets southwest of Tobruk, 200 and 242 kilometers south of Benghazi.
Commander of the LNA, Khalifa Haftar, Chief of General Staff, Chiefs of Staff, and several LNA officers were present during the exercise.
This firing is the first known Scud ballistic missile launch in Libya since the fall of the Gaddafi regime over a decade ago.
However, exercise Al-Karama shows that Libya’s SCUDs are still operational after their long-term storage and maintenance since the decade-old civil war.
In a video released by the LNA, at least four operational Scud launchers, each being used to fire a missile during the drill.
The Scud ballistic missile is a short-range ballistic missile built by the Soviet Union between 1957 to 1989 in four models. The missile uses liquid fuel propellant and its range is between 180 and 800 km, depending on the variant.
Libya’s version, the Scud-B has an estimated Circular Error Probability (CEP) of 450 meters, thereby limiting their conventional military application.
They were likely salvaged from late Ghadafi’s stock, in 1970, Libya acquired Scud-B and Frog-7 missiles from the Soviet Union. Then, Libya had in its possession 80 Scud-B SRBM TELs and 40 FROG-7 artillery rockets TELs. It is believed that Libya had at least three times as many missiles as launchers, although, most were destroyed during the NATO intervention in 2011.
In August 2011, Muammar Gaddafi’s forces fired a Scud ballistic missile for the first time against anti-government forces at Brega. Launched from Sirte, however, the Scud landed harmlessly in the Libyan desert 80km outside the port of Brega.
Although, Libyan Scud-B has a range of 800km, it is notoriously inaccurate with a Circle Error of Probability (CEP) of 450 meter depending on various factors, this could pose a serious threat to population centers as collateral damage is likely to occur when used conventionally.
This is certainly not the first time that the LNA are showcasing their Scuds, two years ago during the battle for Sirte, to bolster its defenses positions in Sirte, Haftar’s forces deployed several SCUD ballistic missiles, a video footage released by the GNA showed a number of the ballistic missiles heading towards the front lines.
Likewise, in May 2021, the LNA paraded eight missiles and four TEL vehicles. At the time, Libyan National Army spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari claimed the LNA has revived the missile forces after restoration of the Soviet-made ballistic missiles.
At the time, he pointed out that the Libyan army has about a hundred missiles of the scud. However, it is not certain how many are left.
Since the civil war ended, political tensions in Libya have been on the rise following the election of Fathi Bashagha (Interior Minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord) as the new Prime Minister of Libya by the Libyan parliament, as well as the failed assassination of the current Prime Minister of the transitional government, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.
These events have led to the postponement of the presidential election in Libya several times and have made the future of the country more uncertain. Hence, General Haftar seeks to demonstrate his military power in Libya by firing Gaddafi-era missiles.