Did France Supply Libya with Javelin ATGMs

In recent months Libya has seen some of the heaviest fightings since the end of so-called “2nd Libyan civil war” started in 2014. The Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar has launched an assault to capture the international recognized governments capital of Tripoli. As the assault is slowed down fighting has become more intense in the streets of the city. While airstrikes continue to strike the city from the air.

The Libyan National Army has received support from various backers. France has backed the LNA despite the GNA being the UN-recognized government. It has been argued that it is not a secret to the international community that France has the tendency to lean their support to Haftar, although France has yet to openly & directly support the LNA in their operations.

In 2010 France had signed an agreement to purchase 260 Javelins from the United States. An investigation found by looking at the serial numbers and other information about the missiles that they were indeed sold to France. If France were to have directly supplied these missiles to the LNA this would mean that France has not only violated the sales agreement with the United States but also the arms embargo that was placed on Libya. 

The missiles were discovered in the aftermath of a GNA assault in Gheryan. They were shown to journalists next to shells that would appear to have come from the UAE. A French advisor confirmed that the missiles did belong to French forces but were damaged & no longer usable. In response to a question form the New York Times the advisor stated they were being temporarily stored in a warehouse awaiting destruction & were not transferred to local forces. The advisor went on to say that the weapons were intended to protect French forces deployed in Libya for intelligence & counter-terrorism operations. This still fails to answer how the weapons were found being stored in a warehouse so close to the front line of the fighting. Some have speculated that if the Javelins were found in Gheryan & they were intended to protect French troops, they would be in the LNA theatre for the operation to capture Tripoli. However, this is in contradiction to the French embassies statement that no French forces are in Libya.

The missiles found in Libya

The missiles found in Libya

Today the GNA are asking France for a better explanation on why these missiles are in Libya. Either way, this places France in a very bad position, they either look to be directly supporting the LNA or violating an arms embargo. Due to France leaning towards the LNA it certainly can’t be ruled out that France has had some involvement with the LNA.

Timeline Of Events On The Assault On Tripoli:

  • 16th January the LNA enter Sabha to the west 

  • 29th January the LNA successfully capture Sabha

  • 6th February the LNA control the important oil field of El Sharara 

  • 4th April the LNA announce the order to capture Tripoli

  • 22nd April airstrikes force the suspension of air operations

The Javelin Missile

The Javelin is a portable anti-tank missile designed to be a “fire & forget" weapons system They will set you back a casual $174,000, as of 2019 the missile has been fired over 5,000 times in combat situations. The missile has been used by a number of nations across the world, including the United Kingdom, France, USA & Saudi Arabia to name a few. While it is primarily used against tanks & other armoured vehicles it can & has been used against buildings, the missile also has the capability of engaging helicopters.