Saturday, February 27, 2010
Russia agrees to supply Mi-24 helicopters to Lebanon
Russian authorities have agreed to supply 10 Mi-24 advanced military helicopters to Lebanon instead of 10 MiG-29 fighter jets they had previously pledged to provide.
According to a report published by al-Nahar news website, the decision was taken after Lebanese President Michel Sleiman asked to receive the state of the art military choppers and the advanced missiles they carry in place of the Russian-made warplanes.
President Michel Sleiman returned Friday afternoon to Beirut concluding a 2-day official visit to Moscow, the first ever visit by a Lebanese head of state to Russia.
On Thursday, Sleiman met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and the two signed a memorandum on military cooperation.
The Russian move is seen as a slap to the United States over its longstanding military relationship with Lebanon. American officials had occasionally intervened in the past when other countries offered to supply weapons.
Lebanon's air force consists of only a few 1950s-era jets and a small number of Vietnam War-era helicopters. The MiG-29, often compared to the American F-16 fighter, is vastly more powerful than anything Washington was considering providing to Lebanon. The most recent Pentagon offer, in terms of air power, is a Cessna Caravan, a single-engine prop plane.