Libya Western Restrictions on Arms Transactions
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
Libya's radicalism, its reckless ventures beyond its borders, and its links to terrorists caused among Western countries a growing reluctance to supply Libya with lethal equipment, a reluctance amounting to formal or de facto embargoes by most Western arms manufacturers. A policy of refusing to ship arms to Libya was reaffirmed in the Tokyo Declaration on International Terrorism in May 1986, signed by the governments of Canada, West Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the United States. Libya has nonetheless continued to look to non-Soviet suppliers, turning to such peripheral sources as Yugoslavia, Greece, and Brazil.
United States restrictions on military sales date from the mid1970s when the delivery of eight C-130 Lockheed cargo planes ordered in 1972 was blocked out of fear that they would be used for military ventures in Uganda. In 1978 spare parts were banned for the C-130s Libya already had on hand, and an export license was refused for two Boeing 727s. Qadhafi angrily rejected accusations against Libya of supporting international terrorism, describing the American attitude as "both puerile and unworthy of a great power." He denied that Libya financed terrorism and asserted that the aircraft carriers of the United States Sixth Fleet were engaged in "terrorism" by their very presence in the Mediterranean. Having initially rejected a permit for the export of 400 trucks manufactured by the Oshkosh Company, the United States government relented after receiving written guarantees that the trucks would be used solely for agricultural purposes. However, upon their delivery in 1979, the trucks were converted to military transporters by Canadian mechanics using Austrian equipment.
After Libya cancelled the treaties with Britain and the United States, France became its main alternative arms supplier. Support for the Mirage fighters by Dassault, a French manufacturer, consisted of both pilot and ground crew training in Libya and France and periodic major overhauls of planes at the Dassault plant. However, the strained relations between the two countries over Chad brought an end to this support. Reportedly, France held discussions concerning the more advanced Mirage 2000 in return for Libyan compliance with its 1983 withdrawal agreement from Chad, but Libya's continued involvement there ruled out any sale. The only major French arms transfer was the US$600 million sale of ten Combattante fast-attack craft with missiles the last of which was delivered in 1984 under a contract negotiated six years earlier.
Libya was involved in a series of significant transactions with Italy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1978 the Italian aircraft company Siai-Marchetti secured a contract to supply SF-260 light aircraft intended for training and reconnaissance. The G-222 military transport plane assembled by Aeritalia was also supplied to the Libyans. The Italian firm of Oto Melara received orders for a large number of Palmaria 155-mm self-propelled howitzers. Over a three-year period, a complete renovation of a British-built frigate was carried out in a Genoa shipyard. Four corvettes of the Wadi/Assad type were contracted for in 1974, but the last of these vessels was not delivered until 1982. Both the frigate and the corvettes were fitted with Otomat missiles.
An arms-supply relationship with Brazil began in 1977 with a Libyan order for several hundred armored cars at a cost of over US$100 million. A contract in 1981 for US$250 million covered purchases of additional armored cars, rockets, bombs, and missile launchers. Negotiations were interrupted after Brazil's 1983 seizure of four transiting Libyan aircraft loaded with weapons for Nicaragua. Resumption of negotiations in 1986 was expected to lead to Brazilian sale of EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft, EMB-121 Xingu transports, and additional Cascavel and Urutu armored vehicles.
In late 1985, Libya signed an agreement with Greece covering the sale of US$500 million in equipment, including the Artemis-30 antiaircraft gun and the Steyr armored personnel carrier, manufactured in Greece under license from Austria. Yugoslavia was reported to be supplying a number of Galeb jet trainer aircraft in addition to those already in service, as well as Koncar-class missile boats to be armed with Soviet-designed Styx missiles.
Data as of 1987
NOTE: The information regarding Libya on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Libya Western Restrictions on Arms Transactions information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Libya Western Restrictions on Arms Transactions should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.