The Soviet Union said today the U.S. military lost five planes in its bombing raid on Libya last week, and accused the Reagan administration of misrepresenting the damages it suffered.
In addition to the F111 the U.S. reported missing, "two aircraft were discovered on the ground and two aircraft were lost," Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Lomeiko said in a Moscow press briefing.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Robert B. Sims said "nothing to it" when asked about the Soviet claim. Sims also said the United States has no evidence to support published reports that the F111 with its two crew members inside was raised from the sea bottom and shipped to the Soviet Union.
Libyan television broadcast pictures tonight of three pieces of gray metal wreckage marked with red paint. The British Broadcasting Corp. translated the Arabic commentary as saying the film showed "wreckage of an aircraft shot down by our air defenses in the municipality of al-Zawiya," near Tripoli, The Associated Press reported.
Lomeiko said the Soviet Union's data were obtained from "national technical means," and "from various sources including our own."
Western observers here consider the reference to "national technical means" to be a rare public admission by Moscow that it used intelligence -- probably spy satellites -- to gather evidence.
The reference to "various sources" suggests that Moscow and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi have shared analyses of the U.S. air attack, western officials here said. It was unclear whether the Kremlin also gathered intelligence on the strike from other countries.
"We now have information about five," Lomeiko said, "but some others speak about six aircraft lost." He said the losses included "several carrier-based planes," according to Moscow's information.
The "heavy losses" were "hidden by authorities in an attempt to create an impression of omnipotence," Lomeiko told reporters.
In questioning, Lomeiko declined to specify whether the planes he referred to were destroyed, or damaged. Nor did he mention how many casualties the United States suffered.
In the week since the air strike took place, the Soviet Union has criticized the American action in officially sanctioned demonstrations and press attacks.
But in talks with Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson last week, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev indicated his "general displeasure" with Qaddafi, according to diplomatic sources here.
Carlsson informed Moscow-based Nordic ambassadors about Gorbachev's remarks last week, sources said.
In a speech today in the Kremlin, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said Soviet action had helped rein in U.S. actions against Libya. It was not clear what actions he was referring to.
"The firmness of the Libyan people and the decisive measures and actions taken by our country . . . put a halt to this imperialist adventure," Shevardnadze said.