The 29th December 2013, the Lebanese president, Michel Sleiman officially announced an historical contract between France, Lebanon and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This contract is a don from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon. The goal is to allow to the Lebanese Army to be equipped with French materials.
With the recent events in the region, Lebanon faces difficulties. Nowadays the Lebanese Army is on the battlefront in the fight against armed terrorist groups. But it’s known that materials and equipment of the Lebanese Army is out-dated and inefficient in the fight against terrorism. That’s why the deceased Saudi King Abdallah, decided a contract of $3 billion between its country, Lebanon and France, charged to equip and train the Lebanese Army according to its need. The code name of the contract is DONAS. At the end of the contract Lebanese Army Forces would a modern army.
The 20th April 2014, the Lebanese Army Force concluded its shopping list and the 4th November 2014, the contract were signed between Edouard Guillaud, Chief Executive of ODAS and Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Finance minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The deal is supervised by ODAS, which has selected twenty French companies specialised in defence, security, and communication for a total of 31 contracts.
The Saudi donation consists of $2,1 billion, dedicated to new equipment acquisition, and of $0,9 billion focused on maintenance.
The 25th February 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid, as first payment, $600 million, being 20% of the contract’s value. The contract, from this day, has started.
The 20th April 2015, with the presence of the French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian and the Lebanese defence minister, Samir Mokbel, the first equipment were delivered to Beirut.
According to the contract, Lebanese Army will receive some 48 MDA Milan start-range anti tank missiles.
In addition, 250 armored vehicles have to be delivered to Lebanon. Among these 250 vehicles we can quote:
• VAB mark III armored vehicles (100 max) with turret by Nexter,
• VBL light armored vehicles (Renault Truck Defense),
• Sherpa light MRAPs, with a system of IED’s detection (Renault Truck Defense),
• VBC-90 armored cars armed with a 90 mm canon (Renault Truck Defense),
• TRM2000 (Renault Truck Defense),
• 24 Caesar SP guns (Nexter System).
Heavy artillery and very short-range air defence missiles appear at the same time in the list.
Lebanese Air Force
Concerning the Lebanese Air Force, the poorest entity of the Lebanese Army, the deal mentions:
• 6 armored Airbus HC cougar AS 532 battlefield helicopters
• 7 Gazelle with Hot missiles
• 7 Puma EC 725
It seems that drone targeting SDTI Sperwer from Sagem have been negotiated, as well as MBDA Mistral very short-range air-defences missiles.
Actually in the final list, 7 Cougar AS 532 armed, an improved version of Puma will be delivered only.
• 3 FS-46, variant of the combatttante III fast patrol boats (CMN) of 56 meters, armored with Simbad launchers for Mistral missiles (MBDA) and a 76 mm automatic gun turret. The first delivery is fixed in 2017
• Air and naval surveillance radars from Thales
• Tactical and strategic communication system from Thales
NB: Thales is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the contracts. Indeed Thales represents the third of the contract’s value of $ 3 billion.
Training & Maintenance
The contract includes a 10-year support package. In addition France should provide training for 7 years, and in this framework, France should send 50 French instructors.
NB: Equipment deliveries will be completed in 2018. It’s important to underline that some of the most urgently needed equipment will be taken from French military inventories.
The Final List
Actually, after negotiation it seems that the final list is different from the initial shopping list. Indeed, for the Lebanese Air Force, only 7 Cougars AS 532 armed, the improved version of Puma, will be delivered.
Otherwise, the wills of Lebanese Army have been respected.