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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

01 Jun 07. Rumours abounded, denied, during IDEX that General Dynamics UK were in discussions with the Libyan Government about supplying a communications network.

After Tony Blair’s visit to Libya it became apparent that a number of military systems were on the shopping list including missiles form MBDA, offshore patrol boats from VT and a Communications System from GD (UK).

Nearby Algeria’ C4I programme is in the doldrums at the moment with an award unlikely in the next 3-4 years due to the country’s armed forces digesting a recent multi-billion dollar deal to acquire a range of Russian sourced equipment which includes MiG-29SMT and 20 Su-30MK fighters, Yak-130 trainers, S-300 PMU2 SAMs and 180 T-90S MBT and upgraded BMP-2s. Egyptian requirements are likely to see a heavy reliance on US sourced FMS equipment with Thales well placed on other requirements.

In Romania, GD is working on equipping a fourth battalion to its new NATO interoperability communications solution, consisting of CDNS software, the Meshnet vehicle LAS and Harris Falcon II radios. The latest converted unit is a Mountain Infantry is the second such battalion to receive the system with armoured and mechanised battalions having previously been converted. The next big step is to establish a divisional HQ, which GD is likely to look to Systematic rather than CDNS for the C2 component.

Andrew Chuter of Defense News covered the requirement in detail stating that
General Dynamics UK had been selected by the Libyan government to supply a tactical communications system for the mechanized Elite Brigade of the North African country’s armed forces.

The British arm of U.S.-based General Dynamics (GD) confirmed its selection after the company was surprisingly named alongside European missile-builder MBDA as having signed agreements in a joint communiqué issued by the U.K. and Libyan governments following a visit by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Sandy Wilson, president and managing director of GDUK, said an agreement in principle had been inked by the two sides and the company was now in final negotiations with the Libyans to supply a tactical voice and data communications system for the mechanized brigade. The potential cost is still under negotiation.

“This initiative is being developed with the full help and guidance of the British government’s Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) and builds on the stated aims of the U.K. and the international community to normalize political, diplomatic and economic relations,” Wilson said.

Wilson, along with MBDA Chief Operating Officer Guy Griffiths, accompanied Blair on a May 29-30 visit to Sirte, the hometown of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. An MBDA spokesman declined to comment on the Libyan sales effort. However, industry sources said Europe’s leading missile builder is talking to Tripoli about selling its Jernas short-range air defense system.

The two governments signed a defense cooperation and defense industrial partnership accord as well as what the communiqué said were “agreements with MBDA and GDUK.” Officials familiar with the defense cooperation pact said it would provide a framework for British defense companies to do future business in Libya.

The British and other countries are, for the moment, focusing on supplying mainly defensive capabilities such as border and maritime patrol, and surveillance and air defense. VT Group, the British warship builder, previously said it saw opportunities to sell offshore patrol vessels and other craft to Libya and other North African states, like Algeria.

Britain already has sold small amounts of military equipment to Libya, and DESO maintains a permanent presence in Tripoli to support defense companies’ sales efforts.

DESO declined to comment on the specific GDUK and MBDA arrangements, but a spokesman said they “welcomed the agreements, although clearly they will re

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