Newspaper: Ukrainian Mercenaries Flying Libya Air Force Planes

KIEV, Ukraine -- Mercenary pilots from Ukraine are flying Libyan air force planes supporting the regime of embattled Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi, a major newspaper reported Thursday.

Embattled Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi.

The Ukrainian pilots, some of whom hold senior rank in the Libyan air force, operate MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighter jets as well as An-12 and An-26 cargo planes, the Segodnya newspaper said.

Stratfor, a private firm that does political analysis, reported on Tuesday that Ukrainian mercenaries piloted planes that had bombed hundreds of protesters near the Libyan capital Tripoli.

A spokesman at Ukraine's embassy in Tripoli denied that report.

The pilots receive between $2,000 and $8,000 dollars a month, Segodnya reported, citing Ukrainian combat flyers.

A Ukrainian aircraft repair and overhaul facility reportedly has provided maintenance support for Libyan air force aircraft since 2008.

Ukrainian military professionals fighting on other nations' behalf have landed the former Soviet republic in hot water repeatedly.

The most controversial recent incidents involved Ukrainian helicopter gunship pilots attacking Albanian rebels for the Macedonian government in 2001, and Ukrainian missile gunners shooting down Russian aircraft for Georgia during the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.

Source: DPA