Heading to Turkey: The Airplane that Landed and Left Mitiga in a Hurry – Al Marsad

SPECIAL REPORT: Al Marsad succeeded in identifying the unknown aircraft that had landed yesterday on Wednesday morning at Mitiga Airport despite the fact that it has been closed for weeks, after suspending all civil aviation and redirecting all flights to Misrata.

[Libya, 19 September 2019] – The airplane that we traced turned out to be registered under the number 5A CAA. It is an “Antonov 74”, made in the Ukraine and owned by the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority. The purpose of this flight, as well as its destination once it left Mitiga in these dangerous times, has not been cleared yet.

Archive image of Libyan-owned Antonov 74 5A-CAA

After landing at Mitiga at 3.10 am, the aircraft soon took off 50 minutes later at 4.00 am after having been boarded by unknown individuals brought in by ambulances. The airplane left the airport towards an unknown destination according to a recording obtained by Al Marsad from an informed security official.

After tracing this airplane on “Flight Radar”, a flight tracker website, it turned out that the crew shut down the navigation and location services before turning them on again 15 minutes later. The airplane was flying north at an altitude of 26,000 feet, then it headed east, then north again, before shutting down the navigation system at the same altitude as it drew near to Malta’s airspace.

From that point onwards, the airplane tried to hide its trajectory, making it hard to know whether it kept flying north towards Italy, or headed east towards Turkey. Records have shown that the same airplane has been doing flights between Misrata and Turkish airports in Istanbul and Ankara over the last few days.

At exactly 5.26 am, the airplane turned its navigation system on again after 2 hours off the grid. This showed that it headed southeast near the Libyan coast before shutting down the navigation system.

At 5.36 am, the airplane restarted its navigation system, which showed it leaving Libyan waters heading towards the northeast along the southern coast of the Island of Crete. Then, it headed east towards the Turkish airspace, finally reaching it at 6.35 am.

The identity of the individuals on the plane, and whether they were alive or dead, is information yet to be revealed. However, the fact that this plane landed in Mitiga airport, which is supposed to be shut down and is a target of airstrikes, indicates that something grave occurred pushing a certain party to take this risk.

Smoking seen from inside the Mitiga air base shortly before Antonov 74 landed

An unprecedented series of airstrikes have targeted the Mitiga base for much of Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. This airplane landed two hours after the last strike, soon after the Libyan National Army (LNA) declared that it targeted the residence of Turkish military officers in one of these strikes.

 

© Al Marsad English (2019).