Comparing the Forces: U.S. Outnumbers Libya

From a Times Staff Writer

The extent to which Libya’s military strength is dwarfed by that of the United States can be summed up in one comparison--its active-duty armed forces are outnumbered 2,151,568 to 73,000. In all other categories, the Libyans’ disadvantage is similarly enormous.

According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, Libya’s navy has six Soviet-made F-class submarines plus one frigate, nine corvettes and 25 fast-attack craft armed with a variety of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles.

The Libyan air force has 535 combat aircraft, including 143 Soviet-built MIG-23 Floggers, 50 MIG-25 Foxbats and 26 French-built Mirage interceptors. Also available are two attack helicopters.

As for air defense weaponry, the institute lists 72 Soviet-made SAM-2 surface-to-air missiles and two SAM-3s. Pentagon sources said the Libyans also have more effective SAM-5s deployed at Surt on the coast of the Gulf of Sidra coast, with another SAM-5 site nearly completed at Benghazi.

The army includes 20 tank battalions and 30 mechanized infantry battalions, with 2,800 Soviet tanks and 350 surface-to-air missiles.


Total army, navy and air force personnel of 73,000 is augmented by a People’s Militia reserve of 40,000.