US Government Approves Fighter Plane Sale to Lebanon

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The U.S. State Department recently approved two sales of military equipment to Lebanon. One involves six Super Tucano turboprop fighter planes and the other for 1,000 air-to-ground Hellfire II missiles. The Super Tucanos will be American-built versions of the plane designed and marketed by Brazil’s Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ). Hellfire missiles are built by Hellfire Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and Boeing Co. (NYSE BA).

The estimated value of the order for the six airplanes is $462 million, and the missile order’s value is estimated at $146 million. The U.S. government is not supplying military aid for the purchases, rather the government of Saudi Arabia is funding the deals through a $1 billion grant given to Lebanon late in 2014.

According to a report in Defense News, the United States has supplied $1 billion in military aid to Lebanon over the past eight years. Lebanon was the fifth-largest recipient of U.S. military aid last year, with over $100 million in assistance. According to the Pentagon, the Lebanese government has requested the sale of six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, along with eight PT6A-68A turboprop engines and other military equipment.

Embraer has also received an order from Ghana for five Super Tucanos, and Mali recently ordered six. The planes are reported to cost between $9 million and $14 million apiece. By way of contrast, a Lockheed Martin F-35 jet fighter costs around $100 million per plane.

The Super Tucano can be fitted out to carry the Hellfire missiles, and the missiles are also a preferred weapon for a number of attack helicopters.

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