Lebanon receives first batch of French weapons under $3bn Saudi-funded deal


The Lebanese Defence Ministry has reportedly taken delivery of the first batch of French weapons and military equipment, which will boost the Lebanese Army's warfighting capabilities.

A security source from Lebanon said that the first shipment was 48 'Milan' anti-tank missiles.

Overseen by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Lebanese counterpart, Samir Mokbel, the delivery is part of a $3bn agreement signed between France and Saudi Arabia in November 2014.

The deal aims to provide weapon systems to support the Lebanese Army battling jihadists in the north and at the neighbouring Syrian boarder.

"France and Lebanon have a fraternal relationship that has been marked over the past three years by a sharp deterioration in the security situation in the Levant."

Le Drian said: "France and Lebanon have a fraternal relationship that has been marked over the past three years by a sharp deterioration in the security situation in the Levant, which has become an existential threat to the region.

"Lebanon is under unprecedented pressure...and this makes border control vital for its security," he added.

"In this critical context, it is therefore essential that Lebanon's friends and allies mobilise to contribute to its security and stability."

The weapons reportedly include a mix of land, sea and air equipment, including armoured vehicles, heavy artillery, anti-tank missiles, mortars and assault weapons.

Approximately 20 French companies are supporting the deal, which is entirely funded by Saudi Arabia.

France is expected to deliver 250 combat and transport vehicles, seven Cougar helicopters, three small corvette warships, and a range of surveillance and communications equipment over four years.

The deal will also see seven years of training for members of the Lebanese army and ten years of equipment maintenance.