France Speeding Up Delivery of Mirage Jets to Libya

France is speeding up its deliveries of Mirage jets to Libya at the request of the Libyan government, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today from circles close to the Dassault firm which manufactures the supersonic aircraft. France agreed last year to sell Libya 110 Mirages with deliveries to be spaced through 1972. According to the JTA’s informants, more than 20 Mirages have been delivered already and the pace will be increased in coming months. Observers here believe the Libyans want as many of the 110 Mirages as possible in their possession by next September when a popular referendum will be held to ratify the projected federation of Libya with Egypt and Syria. They want them as a precaution against any surprise decision by France to embargo the planes if the Federation agreement is implemented. France stipulated in its contract with the Tripoli regime that the planes must not be transferred to a third power. French officials have said that if that stipulation was violated, the deliveries of Mirages would be halted. France still maintains an arms embargo against the nations it regards as belligerents in the Middle East conflict because of their participation in the 1967 war. They are Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Libya is not regarded as a belligerent but its federation with Egypt and Syria might make it one in French eyes. Some of the jets already delivered to Libya are training models.

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