The United States has supplied Beirut with two A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations, Associated Press reported citing the Lebanese Army.
The aircraft were handed to Lebanon on Monday at the Hamat air base north of the capital Beirut, the army was quoted as saying in a statement. No further details were provided.
In March this year, Lebanese pilots had begun their first in-seat flight training on A-29 Super Tucanos in the U.S. The current program aims to train 12 pilots and 20 maintenance workers to independently operate the aircraft.
The Lebanese Army is set to receive an additional four aircraft, each armed with a pair of .50-caliber machine guns.
The original deal struck with the United States also includes 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) laser-guided missiles that can be added to the A-29.
Washington has been a major supporter of Lebanon’s army, which until recently had been fighting the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaida’s Syrian branch on the border with Syria.
Last year, Washington delivered three Huey II helicopters, raising to 10 the number of such U.S.-made aircraft in Lebanon’s fleet. The U.S. has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance to Lebanon since 2006.
A-29 Super Tucano:
Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano (ALX or A-29) is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency (COIN), close air support (CAS), and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments, as well as providing pilot training.
Designed to operate in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain, the Super Tucano is highly maneuverable, has a low heat signature, and incorporates fourth-generation avionics and weapons systems to deliver precision-guided munitions.