The Libyan Army has taken delivery of 69 armoured vehicles, with the first batch of 20 Puma armoured fighting vehicles coming as a donation from Italy a while a further 49 Jordanian-made Nimr vehicles were donated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Puma vehicles were manufactured by Iveco Italia and supplied to Libya in terms of a bilateral defence co-operation agreement, which has also seen thousands of Libyan Army specialists and officers being trained in Italy. They were handed over to the Libyan defence minister General Mohammed Al-Bargoti in Tripoli by Italian defence minister Giampaolo Di Paola.
Speaking during the handover of the vehicles in Tripoli mid-month, Di Paola said the donation is testimony of the stronger, closer military and security ties between the two countries since the fall of former Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. He said Italy is prepared to help train and arm the navy, the army and the police forces to strengthen border and national security.
“We are prepared to help the new Libyan government by providing vehicles, training and a border control system. Libya is strategically important to Italy. We want the country to be stable and secure. We were among the first to come here immediately after the liberation to reaffirm our friendly ties. There are several agreements for cooperation projects that have already been signed, such as the one on integrated surveillance of Libyan borders,” Di Paolla told the Libyan Herald.
General Al Bargoti praised Italy for the support saying the donation and the fact that 3 000 members of the Libyan Army are currently being trained as military specialists and officers in Italy.
“Italy is a technologically advanced country and we will give it priority status for new armaments acquisitions. There will be more Italian arms deals,” Al Bargouti said.
The delivery of the 49 Nimr vehicles from the UAE is a boost to the 120 Nimrs already in service with the Libyan Army. Libyan Army spokesman Ali Al Sheiki said the armoured personnel carriers were supplied to Libya as part of a bi-lateral defence co-operation agreement signed between the two countries last year.
He said the new vehicles will be deployed to border security and surveillance duties in the eastern region which covers the general Benghazi area, which has evolved into a hotbed of jihadist militancy and a haven for armed criminal gangs.
The Nimr has a composite ceramic armour cover and a central tyre inflation system. All models are powered by a Cummins engines developing 146 kW of power, which provides a top road speed of 140 km/h and a cruising range of 700 km. The vehicle has a seating capacity for up to 6 passengers. More than 500 NIMR variants have been sold and are used widely in the UAE, Jordan, Libya, Algeria and Lebanon.