Lebanon’s First Two A-29Bs Handed-Over

One of the two new Lebanese Air Force A-29B Super Tucano aircraft, now with a toned-down Lebanese fin flash, during yesterday’s hand-over ceremony at Hamat Air Base. US Embassy

A FORMAL ceremony was held at Hamat Air Base, Lebanon, yesterday afternoon, October 31 to hand-over the first two US-supplied Embraer A-29B Super Tucano aircraft to the Lebanese Air Force (LAF), which is due to take delivery of a total of six.  As previously reported on Warnsey’s World, they had arrived in Lebanon on October 9, still wearing their US military serials, 15-2021 and 15-2022.  By the time of yesterday’s event, their LAF markings had been applied, although their new serial numbers are as yet unconfirmed.

During the ceremony, the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, said: “The significant increase in LAF combat capability that this aircraft represents will ensure that the LAF will remain a national unifying force, a bulwark agains extremism and terrorism.”  She noted that over the last decade the US has provided over $1.5 billion-worth of training and equipment to Lebanon, including training of over 32,000 Lebanese troops.  Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun said that the aircraft “will make a qualitative leap in improving the aerial capabilities of the LAF.”  Also present were Commander of US Central Command Air Force Jeffrey L Harrigian and Lebanese Air Force Commander Brigadier General Ziad Heikal.  The ceremony concluded with a flypast by the two aircraft, flown by newly-trained LAF pilots.

Sierra Nevada Corporation was awarded an $172.5 million USAF Foreign Military Sales contract on October 30, 2015, to supply the six LAF A-29Bs.  By March 2017, the first two LAF aircraft had arrived at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, where the USAF’s 81st Fighter Squadron, the A-29 Light Air Support training unit, is training Lebanese pilots.  The unit commenced LAF pilot training in March this year and by June 1, four of the six LAF A-29Bs had arrived at Moody.