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Qadhafi Era Military Production

During the 1970s some efforts were launched toward greater self-reliance in military materiél, but little has resulted from these initiatives. Although Libya has supplied weapons and equipment to other governments in direct pursuit of its foreign policy, these weapons have been from Soviet-supplied stocks in the vast Libyan inventory.

In 1978 Yugoslavia agreed to build a large plant in Libya to manufacture ammunition and spare parts for Soviet weapons. In early 1987, the extent to which this commitment was implemented was unknown, but even repair and maintenance workshops have remained wholly inadequate to service the Soviet-supplied equipment and must be operated largely by foreign technicians. A plan to assemble in Libya some of the SF-260 training planes acquired from Italy did not materialize. Consequently, Libya's manufacturing capacity remains limited to the production of basic quartermaster items, uniforms, and some small arms and ammunition.

In addition to supplying arms to dissident and rebel forces in several countries of Africa and other parts of the world, Libya assisted friendly regimes with surplus equipment, but generally not on a consistent or long-term basis. In the two years after the Tripartite Agreement was signed with Ethiopia and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) in August 1981, Libyan aid to Ethiopia in the form of weapons and financial backing amounted to half of all Libya's international aid. Libya and Syria have somewhat parallel aims in the Middle East, and Libya has financed much of Syria's arms acquired directly from the Soviet Union. Among African nations, Benin and Ghana have been recipients of weapons and matériel, in part in recognition for voting with Libya in international forums and in part because Libya has been permitted to use them as transit and recruitment points for its activities in other countries of Africa.

In late 1984, a five-year cooperation agreement was entered into with Malta under which Libya was to provide a military training team and helicopters and would consign some of its naval units for maintenance in Maltese shipyards. A military agreement was also concluded with Sudan in 1985 after the government of Jaafar al Numayri was overthrown by a group less hostile to Libya. Libya pledged to supply a quantity of trucks, trailers, and spares for Soviet equipment already in the Sudanese inventory. In return, the Libyans reportedly were permitted to set up a base in the western region of Darfur where several hundred Libyan troops joined with Chadian insurgents fighting to topple the Chadian government. Although Sudan later claimed that it was severing these new ties with Libya, as of late 1986 Libya reportedly had not fully evacuated Sudanese territory.

In spite of Libya's and Iran's differing goals and mutual suspicions, Libya supported the Iranian Revolution and, unlike other Arab regimes (apart from Syria), backed Iran in its war against Iraq. Qadhafi provided the Tehran government with T-55 tanks, antitank and antiaircraft artillery, ammunition, and Scud missiles.

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Page last modified: 23-10-2013 19:13:00 ZULU