Just outside the building at the Reagan Presidential Library where Wednesday’s Republican debate is being held stands an F-14A fighter jet — a reminder of the times during Ronald Reagan’s time in office that the U.S. clashed with the rogue nation.
This plane is painted to look like the F-14A Tomcat(link:http://www.f-14association.com/display-162592.htm) flown on Aug. 18, 1981, by Cmdr. Hank Kleeman and Lt. Dave Venlet, which together with another Tomcat shot down two Russian-built Su-22 planes over the Gulf of Sidra.
It was one of a series of tense incidents between the U.S. and Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s government. In 1989, in the closing days of Reagan’s presidency, two more Tomcats shot down Libyan two MiG-23s, and in 1986 American planes bombed Libya in retaliation for a Libyan-sponsored bombing of a disco in Berlin that killed three and wounded hundreds.
U.S. relations with Libya were sour for most of the Cold War, warmed briefly under President George W. Bush, then deteriorated again recently as rebels challenged his rule.
The U.S. backed the rebels’ efforts, first leading and then aiding NATO efforts to establish a no-fly zone over Libya that kept government troops at bay, allowing the rebels to advance.
Now, the rebels say they have chased Col. Gadhafi from power after more than four decades, and have him on the run.