Libya’s air force is made up of roughly 18,000 men and women, most of whom are staunch supporters of the regime. The elite military branch recruited from followers who were 100 percent loyal to the regime, and members of Gadhafi’s Gadhadfa tribe and its closely allied Magariha tribe were given preference during the selection process for recruits. They have shown a blind obedience to their commander in chief. Only a handful of pilots and officers have switched sides to join the opposition…

In the end, however, the really decisive factor in the battle might turn out to be the large number of military transport aircraft that Gadhafi purchased from Russian and American manufacturers. In just a few hours’ time, the seven squadrons of helicopters and transport planes can ferry government units and reinforcements to scenes of fighting anywhere within the country. The rebel army forming in the eastern part of the country also has almost nothing to counter them with. Although it has a handful of bombers that defecting pilots landed in enemy territory, the only thing it has to supply and transport its own forces are trucks and civilian vehicles…

For the moment, however, Gadhafi has held back from sending his elite troops into the fight. Granted, on Thursday, his warplanes bombed the eastern port city of Brega for the second day in a row. But that is only a small taste of what the Libyan air force is capable of.