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Russia set to build fast attack boats for Libya


MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will build Molniya class missile boats for Libya under a new contract, a source in the defense industry said on Wednesday.

Russian media reported on Tuesday that Libya had signed with Russia a contract worth up to an estimated $200 million to buy three missile boats.

"The order was placed with the Vympel shipbuilding yard in Rybinsk [in central Russia]. It involves at least three units worth up to $200 million," the source said.

Russian-Libyan military cooperation was unfrozen when then-President Vladimir Putin visited Tripoli last April, with relations further strengthened by Muammar Gaddafi's subsequent visit to Moscow.

During Putin's visit, the two countries signed a deal to write off $4.6 billion of Libya's debt in exchange for a host of new deals, including $2 billion in arms agreements.

Libya also showed interest in buying Russian-made Su-30MKI fighters, T-90 tanks, and Tor-M2E air defense systems.

The Molniya class fast attack boats have a maximum speed of over 40 knots and are equipped with anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and a 76-mm gun.

The boats' relatively small size and displacement enable them to blend in with coastal merchant and fishing traffic, making them difficult to locate and target.

Russia earlier delivered two Molniya class boats to Vietnam and signed a licensed production agreement with Hanoi on 10 additional vessels.

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