Libya to Spend Billions on Defence

The Libyan government is looking to spend at least 6 billion dinars ($4.7 billion) on defence and national security in the coming year, according to a report from The National.

Colonel Abd El Nasser Busnina, a senior officer in the Libyan Air Force, said:

"We have 2,000 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline to defend and six borders with African countries ... We need to rebuild our armed forces. The equipment we have is old and in need of repair ... The defence budget is at least 10 per cent of the total budget."

He added that all branches of the Libyan military were seeking to buy the best hardware that western defence manufacturers could offer.

"Since we had in the past mostly Soviet equipment, all three branches of our forces want western equipment," he said.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is expected to send a navy frigate to Tripoli in the coming days with up to a dozen British security companies. Babcock, the largest provider of training services to the British armed forces, was expected to be aboard.

A spokesman for UKTI said that training was at the forefront of the services on offer and that the possibility of buying high-end hardware of the sort being described by senior Libyan military personnel was not on the agenda.

"To go from having no Typhoons to Typhoons [such as the one pictured] is quite a significant step and one that will take some time," the spokesman said referring to the Eurofighter being developed by EADS and Britain's BAE Systems.

He added that British companies and UKTI were looking to engage with Libya to assist with simpler security projects.

"Patrolling borders is one very good example," he said. "You can be very effective with things like fences and binoculars that are far easier to purchase and deploy than a Eurofighter."

Libya has been unable to engage fully with defence manufacturers since Qaddafi's demise because of strict sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.

The sanctions were eased two weeks ago, however, allowing the country to buy non-lethal military equipment for humanitarian and protective use. This could include aeroplanes, ships and vehicles so long as they remain unarmed.

Libya can also import some lethal equipment under the new terms but it must seek authorisation from the UN sanctions committee.

(Source: The National)

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