Russia to give Lebanon 10 MiG fighter jets

18Dec08

lebanon_mig29Russia is to deliver 10 MiG-29 fighter jets as a gift for the Lebanese military.

Russia’s defence ministry has decided to deliver to Lebanon, as part of defence cooperation, 10 MiG-29 fighter jets from our existing contingent,” the Interfax news agency quoted Mikhail Dmitriyev as saying.

The fighter jets would be modernized before delivery and the transport of the jets would be paid for by the Russian defence ministry, he confirmed, following a visit to Moscow by Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Murr.

Military-technical assistance, this means assistance in budgetary funds,” he said.

Russia gives a good example of how to deal with Lebanon’s cause, and we hope that all those calling for Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty would do the same,” he said.

Dmitriyev said Russia could also supply ground equipment to the Lebanese army.

We consider the Lebanese army a key element of political stability and we are ready to provide it with arms.

The United States has given 410 million dollars in military aid to the Lebanese army since 2006 but this has been limited to light weapons and vehicles.

I am not too sure if providing Lebanon with weapons would be the solution. It may be a temporary pain to our enemies, but certainly not a prevention. If these planes are used against Syria or Israel, I’m not too sure we’d last long (lack of experience probably). Maybe some of our pilots can train on these; But I wouldn’t bet on it as a mean of peace in the Middle East. Surface to Air missiles (defence weaponry) would probably been more appropriate.

Update from the NYTimes: Lebanon’s air force currently 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 the United States was considering providing to Lebanon. The most recent Pentagon offer, in terms of air power, is a Cessna Caravan, a single-engine prop plane, it would be no threat to Israeli forces nor useful for any other purpose, except bomb a few terrorist god-knows-who implants in Lebanon. Defense to Israel first, and to hell with everyone else is the moto that still, and always resonate out of America’s foreign policy.

As a Lebanese, let it be clear to both the U.S. and Russia: “Lebanese refuse to be a front for their post-cold-war era“.

Update (01/02/2009): Professor Ghassan Karam went as far as questioning the need for these planes :

A Lebanese Air Force composed of 10 MIG 29’s will not become operational for years, it will increase exponentially Lebanese dependence on Russian training, radar systems, and maintenance but above all it will help bring Lebanon into the Russian orbit in exchange for war materiel that is ineffective and that Lebanon does not strategically need in the first place.” Karam wrote in his exclusive Ya Libnan editorial on 23 December, 2008.

Lebanon is in a tough neighborhood and the Lebanese people are therefore extremely grateful for any help they can get to strengthen the Lebanese army including the Russian gift of 10 Mig-29 , but if these planes are “inferior quality” rejects , they will become a liability and a burden on the armed forces.

Ya Libnan and the innercircle is bringing up this issue to alert the Lebanese Defense authorities to the possibility that they may be getting “inferior quality ” products from Russia and that instead of strengthening the army we will be weakening it!

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