Lebanon’s army sells copter rides

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Hamat Air Base

Hit by the collapse of Lebanon’s economy, the army has started selling rides on its helicopters to finance their maintenance, a measure of the depth of the financial troubles facing the country.

“The war we are in is economic and therefore requires unconven-tional means … and the idea we had was to do helicopter tours,” Colonel Hassan Barakat, an army spokesman, said.

“The cost of these trips secures the essential maintenance of the planes.” A 15-minute rides on an army Robinson R44 training helicopter costs $150.

Lebanon is suffering from what the World Bank has described as one of deepest depressions in modern history. The currency has lost more than 90% of its value in less than two years and more than half the population has sunk into poverty.

Army commander General Joseph Aoun warned last month that the crisis, caused by decades of corruption and waste in government, would lead to the collapse of all state institutions including the army, noting that the value of a soldier’s monthly salary was now $90. —Agencies

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