“Airbus Military is proud to have gained the confidence of the Cameroon Air Force and looks forward to standing by our customer as a trusted partner for many years to come”, said Antonio Rodriguez Barberán, Airbus Military VP Commercial.
“The CN235 is exactly the kind of workhorse required for current and future airlift missions to be performed by the Cameroon Air Force and we are optimistic that its in-service performance will lead to further orders from Cameroon.”
It is understood that Cameroon had earlier placed an order for the CN235 but experienced problems financing the aircraft. However, several weeks ago Cameroon obtained financing from a bank for the aircraft, leading to the deal going ahead.
Airbus Military said that versatility and low maintenance and operating costs were key factors in the Cameroon Air Force’s selection of the CN235 and that the aircraft is well-proven in hot, dusty and humid conditions throughout Africa. CN235s have accumulated more than a million flight hours.
The CN235 is able to carry up to six tonnes of payload. Its two General Electric GE CT7-9C3 turboprop engines, each delivering 1870 shp, give it a maximum cruise speed of 240 kt (450 km/h).
Cameroon’s CN235 is the 276th to be ordered from Airbus Military. A total of 43 operators around the world have ordered the aircraft in transport and surveillance versions, and it is currently in service with 28 countries.
According to Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment, Cameroon’s air force is geared toward transport and utility operations in support of ground forces. “As with other regional air forces, few aircraft have been procured since the end of the oil boom in the early 1980s and the burden is beginning to tell on equipment that is now almost 30 years old,” Janes said, cautioning that ageing aircraft and low serviceability were hampering the combat capability of the air force.
According to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2012, the Cameroon Air Force’s transport fleet inventory comprises of one Boeing 707, three C-130H-30 Hercules, one DHC-4 Caribou, four DHC-5D Buffalos, two Dornier Do-128D-6 Turbo SkyServants, one Gulfstream III and one IAI-201 Arava. Some of these aircraft are no longer serviceable and the transport fleet has declined in recent years, especially with the 2001 grounding of the remaining three DHC-5D Buffalos.
The Air Force has over a dozen combat capable aircraft, including five MB-326K Impala I/IIs, four Alpha Jets and six CM-170 Magisters, although the availability of the Magisters is questionable. Six Impalas were purchased from South Africa in 1997 and entered service in late 1998, but one later crashed in 2003.
Utility aircraft comprise two PA-23 Aztecs while the helicopter fleet comprises of three Mi-24 Hinds, four SA-342 Gazelles, one AS332 Super Puma, one AS 365 Dauphin 2, three Bell 206 Jet Rangers, two Bell 206L-3 Long Rangers, one SA 318 Alouette II, two SA 319 Alouette IIIs and three SE 3130 Alouette IIs, according to The Military Balance. Two Bell 412s were also acquired, but one was lost in a fatal crash in November 2010.
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