The United States completed the delivery of all six A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to the Lebanese Army (Armed Forces) with the recent delivery of four platforms two months ahead of schedule.
The final batch of four aircraft was delivered on Tuesday during a ceremony at Hamat air base, just north of the coastal city of Batroun. The planes flew over Beirut and other areas in Lebanon, following their departure from Cyprus.
The ceremony was attended by General Joseph Aoun, Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF); Elizabeth H. Richard, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon; Brigadier General Ziad Haikal, Commander of LAF Air Force and a number of senior officers.
They were received “for the benefit of the Lebanese Army,” read an Army statement released on the occasion , marking the second such delivery since last year.
The first two aircraft were delivered to the Lebanese Air Force October last year and they are now based out of Hamat Air Base. Before the delivery, the air force didn’t had an advanced fixed wing aircraft and relied on a helicopter force and Cessna AC 208 for reconnaissance and attack.
The Super Tucanos were provided by the U.S. as part of the military aid. In all, the aid is worth about $240 million, including basic cost of the aircraft ($204 million), the cost of ammunition and armament ($10 million) and the cost of the training ($12 million).
All aircraft were produced at Embraer’s Light Aircraft Manufacturing Facility in Jacksonville, Florida, and modified by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) in Centennial, Colorado, as part of a larger, more comprehensive package. In addition to providing the aircraft, the SNC/Embraer team is also contracted to provide logistics support, training, spares and support equipment.
This latest aircraft delivery comes just days after the graduation of the second Lebanese pilot training class at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Lebanese pilots had begun their first in-seat flight training on A-29 Super Tucanos in the U.S. in March last year. The current program aims to train 12 pilots and 20 maintenance workers to independently operate the aircraft.
The A-29B will be equipped with the 12.7mm (.50-caliber) M3M machine gun, LM 70/7-SF-M9 MK2 multiple launcher (70mm), MK81/82 bombs, GBU-12/GBU-58 laser-guided bombs and Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS).
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.
Over the last decade, the U.S. government has invested more than $1.5 billion in training and equipment to support the Lebanese military, and trained over 32,000 troops.
In 2016, Washington delivered three Huey II helicopters, raising to 10 the number of such U.S.-made aircraft in Lebanon’s fleet.The total investment in the Lebanese armed forces by the U.S. is over $160 million last year.
Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano
The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29, is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency, close air support, 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.
The A-29 has accrued more than 40,000 combat hours in military theaters around the globe and is the only aircraft in its class with a U.S. Air Force military type certificate. The A-29 has been selected by 14 air forces on three continents and is the only certified, combat proven light attack aircraft currently in production in the world.