The Lebanese Navy is set to receive new offshore patrol vessels from the United States and France, Defense News reported on Monday.
4 of the 7 vessels will be provided with help from France, while the remaining three Protector-class offshore patrol vehicles (OPVs) will come from the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Defense had informed Lebanon in May that the 3 OPVs would be delivered with the aim of helping the crisis-hit country respond to regional threats and keep maritime passages open, according to a statement on May 21st by the Defense Department.
“Currently, there is coordination with French shipbuilders to supply Lebanon with four OPV frigates, of 65- and 75-[meter] length each,” Lebanese Naval Forces Commander Captain Haissam Dannaoui told Defense News.
The OPVs that will come from France will be financed with a French loan, in line with the 2018 Rome 2 Conference that outlined support for the Lebanese Armed Forces.
A 400-million-euro credit line is expected to be opened by France so that Lebanon can purchase French military equipment.
Capt. Dannaoui said that the specifications and costs of the vessels were still being negotiated, expressing hope for an agreement to be reached soon.
“These vessels will help protect the Lebanese coast and territorial waters,” the officer said.
In May, it was announced that the United States would raise its annual funding of the Lebanese Army to $120 million – a $15-million increase – to help the Army face the effects of the economic crisis enveloping Lebanon.
This crisis, exacerbated by Lebanon’s political vacuum, has prompted Lebanese Armed Forces Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun to campaign in France for support for the Army to prevent its collapse.