The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Tuesday approved the sale of six Embraer A-29 Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft to the Lebanese military for an estimated $462 million.
The Super Tucanos are designed for light attack and aerial surveillance aimed at mountain terrains. The acquisition seems appropriate as the current threat is from insurgents rather than conventional armies.
These turbo-prop aircraft can fly low and launch attacks at locations difficult to access by fighter jets. They are also cheaper and easier to maintain than fighter aircraft.
The US has so far provided the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with more than $1 billion in military assistance over the past eight years. This includes Cessna 208B caravan aircraft modified for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.
The US DSCA earlier this month cleared the sale of 1,000 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles to Lebanon valued at $146 million. Lebanon has also received a shipment of BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles from the US this month.
Lebanon has also sought help from Saudi Arabia this year in their fight against terrorism. Lebanon received a shipment of a mix of French land, sea and air equipment including armored vehicles, heavy artillery, anti-tank missiles, and mortar and assault weapons worth $3 billion funded by Saudi Arabia in April.