Libya Buys 3 Missile Boats From Russia

March 11, 2009, Moscow -- Russia has signed a contract to supply Libya with three Molniya Project 12418 fast attack missile boats, the first large publicly known arms deal with the North African country since Moscow wrote off Tripoli's debt in exchange for new arms contracts last year.

The ships will be built by the Rybinsk-based Vympel shipbuilding plant, according to a March 9 report by the government's Prime-Tass news agency. In a January meeting, Vympel shareholders approved a plan to borrow 800 million rubles ($23 million) from the government-controlled Sberbank to start executing the Libyan contract, the report said.

Mikhail Barabanov, an analyst with the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a think tank here, said the deal might amount to $250 million, based on Vympel's 1999 contract to build two Molniyas for $45 million each for Vietnam.

"If you add double ammunition loads for each Project 12418 boat, meaning 96 Uran-E missiles, this will make another $100 million," he said.

Molniya-class boats have a top speed of more than 40 knots and can carry anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and a 76mm gun.

Libya, once a voracious customer for Soviet arms, saw its ties freeze after the collapse of the Soviet Union. During then-President Vladimir Putin's visit to Tripoli last April, Russia agreed to write off $4.6 billion of Libya's Soviet-era debt in exchange for new deals, including $2 billion in arms contracts.

Russia has used such debt-for-contracts schemes to win arms agreements with Algeria and Syria.

Before and during the visit of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to Moscow in October, Libyan officials reportedly discussed with their Russian counterparts possible procurement of Russian-made Su-30MKI fighters, T-90 tanks, Tor-M2E air defense systems and also modernizing T-72 tanks bought from the Soviet Union earlier. Barabanov said that one should not expect mega-deals with Libya, similar to the $7.5 billion host of arms contracts which Russia achieved with Algeria in 2006.

"Libyans will proceed in small steps, sticking to relatively modest procurement and modernization contracts," the analyst said.

Vympel spokesmen did not return calls for comment. Vympel is controlled by the Concern of Medium and Small Tonnage Shipbuilding, which is controlled by its managers, Igor Kruglyakov and Mikhail Kheifits.

Officials at Rosoboronexport, the Russian state arms trading monopoly, declined to comment.(defensenews)

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Powered by Blogger