Lebanon: army receives US-donated helicopters worth $32 million

The US gave $2 billion-worth of assistance to the Lebanese armed forces in the past 15 years

Lebanon has received three military helicopters from the US as part of attempts to boost the army’s capabilities.

Washington’s ambassador to Beirut, Dorothy Shea, said it would help the army defend Lebanon.

“This equipment, like donations we have made before, directly contributes to the professional capabilities of the [army], ensuring its operational readiness to defend Lebanon and its people,” she said, according to a statement by the US embassy in Lebanon released on Saturday.

Lebanese Major General Milad Ishak said the handover represented the material support that showed Washington’s confidence in the army.

Valued at more than $32 million, the helicopters will be used in border and land security operations, the statement said.

Rear Admiral Frank Bradley, commander of US Special Operations Command Central, met the Lebanese army head General Joseph Aoun to discuss co-operation this week.

“For many years we have had a strong and enduring relationship with the [Lebanese army] and their special forces, maintaining this relationship is essential in promoting trust and legitimacy,” he said.

The US has donated more than $2 billion to Lebanon’s armed forces in the past decade.

The Lebanese army relies on external assistance for the bulk of its procurement but has close ties with the US, the UK and France.

Washington views a strong competent army in Lebanon as a counterweight to the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah, the only militia that held on to its arsenal after Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1990.

It is considered to be a terrorist group by the US as well as many European and Arab countries.