The Soviets have sold Libya at least a dozen and as many as 15 fighter-bombers that are capable of striking long-range targets in the Middle East, Pentagon sources say.
The SU-24 Fencers, which can travel within an 800-mile radius without refueling, have been broken into pieces, crated in large boxes and delivered to the Libyans aboard Soviet Antonov-22 transport planes, the sources told The Associated Press on Tuesday.The price was not known, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The deliveries are infrequent and at irregular intervals, the sources said. They added that the Fencers are likely to be based in eastern Libya, possibly at Bumbah.
In addition, the sources said, the Libyans also are seeking to purchase equipment that could convert some of their existing large transport planes to be used for aerial refueling, the sources said.
Last year, Libya tried to buy extra refueling tanks and other refueling gear that could be used aboard aging Boeing 707s that it already owns, the sources said.
The New York Times reported in Wednesday's editions that the Soviets have also agreed to refit a Libyan transport plane, the Soviet-built Ilyushin-76, so that it can be used as an aerial refueling plane.