The Libyan government has ordered 50 rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBS) from French company Sillinger for delivery in March this year.
Sillinger marketing director Guillaume Godde declined to reveal the value of the contract but said his company has been contracted to supply semi-rigid inflatable boats ranging between 3.80 metres and 12 meters in length to the Libyan armed forces.
One model will be the 1200 RIB UM Inboard, designed for the high seas. Libya is the second customer for this new model.
The 1200 RIB UM is one of the largest and most advanced of Sillinger’s military offerings and is able to carry up to 25 people. Weapons options include a 7.62 or 5.56 mm gun on each side and a 12.7 mm machinegun on the front. Armour can be retrofitted to the sides of the boat.
Sillinger boats are widely used by French Navy commandos and the French Customs, particularly the 580 RIB UM, a boat designed for open sea surveillance or insertion operations.
The deal between Sillinger and the Libyan government is a sign of growing naval co-operation between France and Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. In December last year, the Libyan Navy’s Chief-of-Staff Hassan Boushnak met Captain Olivier de Saint Julien of the French navy frigate Aconit during a stop-over in Tripoli and both commanders called for more bi-lateral co-operation regarding naval security.
They agreed on sharing intelligence and further joint training of Libyan Navy personnel by the French Navy. Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, the French Navy has co-operated at various levels with the Libyan Navy and led the clearing of mines and other war debris around Tripoli.
France has also provided training for the Libyan Navy’s divers and is presently involved in the multi-national naval assistance mission which is re-training the Libyan Coast Guard to secure the country’s maritime boundaries and prevent human traffickers from using its coastal waters as launch pad for runs to Europe.
Sillinger is a division of uniform and equipment company Groupe Marck, which took part in a three-day defence exhibition at the Libyan Air Force’s Tripoli air base last week.