Lebanon’s Defense Minister Samir Moqbel and Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji (photo) assured that they have been officially notified that the Saudi grant to purchase French weapons is “on track” and that the arms are in the making process, al-Mustaqbal daily reported on Thursday.
“The $3 billion grant is on track and there is no backing down,” said Moqbel to the daily.
“We have been informed by the Saudi authorities that the French company ODAS has been told to begin the process of manufacturing under this grant,” he added.
“A new batch of arms will be handed to the army at the beginning of next April and the other shipments will be handed respectively over a time period that extends over six years,” added the Minister.
ODAS is the French agency in charge of promoting defense sales in Saudi Arabia.
For his part, Qahwaji stated that he had been “officially notified by head of ODAS company Admiral Edouard Guillaud, that the Saudi Finance Ministry has signed the required documents with the company and that they are now working on setting a time limit to hand Lebanon the French weapons.”
In December 2013, Saudi Arabia agreed to finance the $3-billion package of French military equipment and arms for the Lebanese Army.
France is expected to deliver 250 combat and transport vehicles, 7 Cougar helicopters, 3 small Corvette warships and a range of surveillance and communications equipment over four years as part of the $3 billion (2.8 billion-euro) modernization program.
In June, reports claimed that the grant was frozen over stances by some Lebanese officials regarding Riyadh’s war against Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition that launched an air war on the Huthi rebels and their allies in Yemen on March 26.