The US government has put Sierra Nevada on contract to deliver six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to the Lebanese Air Force by 2019.
The deal with Beirut for the fixed-wing, light-attack turboprops received approval from the US State Department in June, and was awarded to Sierra Nevada late last week.
The nearly $173 million production contract provides Lebanon with a much-needed close air support capability as the Syrian civil war threatens to spill across its borders, and will supplement the Lebanese Air Force’s three militarised Cessna 208 Caravans.
Sierra Nevada assembled the aircraft in Florida through its partnership with Embraer, the A-29 original equipment manufacturer. Both companies teamed to supply 20 Super Tucano to the Afghan Air Force, with Embraer supplying the aircraft, ground-training devices and spare parts and Sierra Nevada supporting onsite logistic support and pilot and maintenance training.
The aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68A turboprop engines and armed with BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, which are laser-guided 2.75in rockets.
Supplying A-29s to Lebanon keeps the American A-29 pipeline open even after the Afghan Light Air Support programme concludes. One Embraer official said during a recent interview that he sees an enduring partnership with SNC and healthy demand for A-29s through both the US and Brazilian assembly lines.