Beirut - The United States on Friday delivered three brand-new Huey II helicopters worth $24 million to the Lebanese Army in a ceremony attended by US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, Lebanese Army Brigadier General, Ziad Haikal, and Colonel Michel Saifi.
The following is Ambassador Shea’s address during the delivery of Huey Helicopters:
“Sabah El- Kher. Good morning Brigadier General Ziad Haikal, Colonel Michel Saifi, distinguished guests.
I’m very touched by the video we just watched, in particular by the role that the Huey II’s had in the civil defense response after the explosion at the Port of Beirut. And that just makes me all the more proud to have the opportunity this morning to commemorate our steadfast commitment to supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces, and through you, security and stability right here in Lebanon. These brand-new Huey II helicopters are a symbol of the strength and closeness of our relationship.
Today, we are formally inaugurating these helicopters, valued at over $24 million U.S. dollars as the newest additions to the LAF’S air fleet. These helicopters represent the enduring partnership between Lebanon and the United States. U.S. military teams have worked closely with the LAF to ensure that the capabilities of these aircraft will enhance the operational capacity of the LAF in providing security for all of Lebanon. The Huey II’s versatility allows the LAF to conduct many important missions from MEDEVAC and search and rescue, to combat resupply, to transporting a platoon of fully equipped soldiers anywhere in the country in response to a crisis.
But our partnership extends far beyond just today’s delivery. The U.S. Department of State recently approved an additional $210 million in foreign military financing for the LAF. These funds will increase the capacity of the LAF Army, Navy, and Air Force for years to come. The United States is committed to pursuing additional ways that we can help the LAF continue its vital role in securing and protecting Lebanon. And we deeply appreciate the LAF’s role in advising us on what your needs are.
To our LAF colleagues, I say: We commend your dedication and hard work for the people of Lebanon, and we are proud to support you. I look forward to a continuous and ever-increasing partnership between our two countries, as do all of my colleagues, who are with me here today representing the U.S. Embassy, whether from our Attaché’s office or our Office of Defense Cooperation and in particular all of our Lebanese staff who have been in that office many years supporting this effort. And we also welcome our colleagues from U.S. Central Command. Thank you all for joining us here today to inaugurate these Huey IIs.”