Ambassador Dorothy C. Shea at Hamat Air Base today
Ambassador Dorothy C. Shea delivered the following remarks at Hamat Air Base today:
“Sabah el-Kheir, Hello, General Joseph Aoun, General Haikal, distinguished guests. What an honor to be with you this morning. As you probably know, General Aoun and I recently traveled to the United States where we were hosted for a series of meetings on US-Lebanese military cooperation and coordination, and I am proud to have the opportunity. to demonstrate how real this commitment is with yet another major equipment delivery. Look at this beautiful specimen.
Today, therefore, we welcome the supply of six MD-530F + light attack helicopters to the Lebanese Air Force (LAF). I loved this video we just watched and just want to grab the teamwork theme you identified, the same teamwork that we see between those MD 530 (s), we see between the LAF and the US military.
Since 2017, US military teams have worked closely with the LAF to ensure that the capabilities of these aircraft meet the needs of the mission and enhance the operational capability of the LAF to ensure the security of Lebanon. Today we not only officially unveil these helicopters, valued at over $ 40 million, but welcome them as the most recent additions to the LAF air fleet.
This helicopter is the first light attack helicopter of its kind to incorporate APKWS missiles and live downlink targeting data. Most importantly, this technology showcases the LAF’s increasing levels of combat capabilities.
We would also like to thank the LAF pilots and technicians who received training on these planes with a view to their deployment in the field. These officers join a group of top performing LAF personnel who have received U.S. sponsored training and education, and it is such an important part of our bilateral cooperation. Well done for the performance we saw just a few minutes ago.
Today, the delivery of the helicopter and the graduation of the training represent the lasting partnership between Lebanon and the United States. The United States recently announced additional annual support of $ 67 million for foreign military funding for this year 2021. This is in addition to the $ 120 million we had already set aside for Lebanon, bringing the total to $ 187 million. dollars for this year. We remain committed to finding other ways to help the LAF, and I include the LAF soldiers in that. We know your country is going through tough times, your people are going through very tough economic times and many of you are. We are actively working to help find solutions to these problems, and I would include our friends and colleagues in the Internal Security Forces as well. We recognize the vital role you play in securing and protecting Lebanon.
Thank you all for allowing me to participate in today’s event. It gives me such pride and truly to recognize the technological and operational advancements that LAF is making despite the ongoing economic difficulties. We congratulate you on your dedication and hard work and I look forward to a continued and ever growing partnership between our two countries, because you know we are in the same boat. Thank you.”