The contract for the supply of about 200 French armored vehicles to Lebanon, financed by Saudi Arabia, was reached after "months of equivocation," according to the president of Volvo Group Governmental Sales and CEO of Renault Trucks Defense, Emmanuel Levacher.
This contract is part of an ambitious, 2.2 billion euro program known as “Donas”, to modernize the Lebanese armed forces through deliveries of French military equipment (vehicles, helicopters, guns, drones ...) and financed by a Saudi donation.
It was concluded between Volvo / Renault Trucks Defense and ODAS, founded by the French government and industry, and which acts as an intermediary for export sales, Mr. Levacher said during a January 27 hearing before the Defense Committee of the National Assembly.
"We have just signed, after months of dithering, a contract with ODAS within the framework of the assistance program to the Lebanese army (Donas) which covers the provision of 100 Sherpa light armored vehicles and 100 VAB Mark3 wheeled armored personnel carrier,” he said according to the transcript of the hearing recently put on line on the Assembly website.
The contract was signed in late December, according to a source familiar with the matter. Volvo Group Governmental Sales and ODAS declined Tuesday to provide details such as the exact number of vehicles and their delivery schedules.
After an initial delivery of 48 Milan anti-tank missiles to the Lebanese army in April 2015, the Donas program has been delayed, as Saudi authorities wished to renegotiate certain aspects of the contract. Since the advent of King Salman in January 2015, his son Mohammed bin Salman, deputy crown prince and the new Minister of Defence, has overhauled a number of contracts and draft contracts, including Donas.
"At the end of 2015, the execution of Donas resumed normally, which in practice resulted in the signing of contracts with the companies concerned," according to a French Ministry of Defence spokesman.
The next delivery is scheduled for delivery during the spring and cover communications equipment.
The contract with Renault Trucks Defense, a subsidiary of Volvo Group Governmental Sales -in charge of defense activities within the Volvo Group – is a further step in the implementation of the Donas program.
The ODAS company, headed by a former French Chief of the Defense Staff, Edouard Guillaud, manages the implementation of Donas. With these deliveries, France and Saudi Arabia hope to contribute to the stability of Lebanon, weakened by internal divisions and incursions by jihadist extremist group like the Islamic state.