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Burkina Faso operating Cobra armoured vehicles

An Otokar Cobra APC.Burkina Faso has become the latest African user of the Cobra armoured personnel carrier, having recently taken delivery of an undisclosed number from Turkey’s Otokar.

Four of the vehicles were seen during the country’s 11 December Independence Day parade in Manga and a Burkinabe military source told Jane’s Defence Weekly that a number of Cobras had been delivered since September.

These vehicles have been deployed in the East Region for counter-terrorist operations. On 22 December, one of the Cobras was hit by an improvised explosive device, killing three soldiers. Four other soldiers were injured in the attack, which destroyed the vehicle. Since September 2018 the East region has been the scene of a number of improvised explosive device attacks. Since 2015, jihadist attacks have claimed over 200 lives in Burkina Faso.

A week ago, Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces as Islamist groups intensify attacks in areas bordering Mali. Security has deteriorated in the West African country as jihadists seek to increase their influence across poorly policed scrublands of the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert.

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, Burkina Faso’s Cobras are operated by Commando Infantry Regiments (RIC) of the Burkinabe Army, but additional vehicles are expected to be delivered to the two Combined Regiments (RIA).

Algeria, Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tunisia are amongst African Cobra operators – the type has found widespread acceptance by militaries around the world.

The Cobra vehicle features a common platform that can be adapted for a variety of roles, and the vehicle can be used as a weapons carrier, reconnaissance vehicle, armoured personnel carrier, ambulance, NBC reconnaissance vehicle etc. The Cobra can transport between four and nine people, including the driver, depending on configuration.

The monocoque V-shaped steel hull provides protection against small arms fire (including 5.56 and 7.62 mm rounds), mines, IEDs and shrapnel. The front wheel arches are designed to be blown away in the event of an explosion. Additional bolt-on armour can be added for better protection. The vehicle is powered by a V8 turbo diesel engine, driving all four wheels, which feature independent suspension and a central tyre inflation system. Top speed of the 6 200 kg Cobra is around 115 km/h.

Various turrets and weapons systems are available, including the Rafael overhead weapon station (OWS) with Rafael Spike anti-tank missiles, 40 mm grenade launcher and Nexter 20 mm M621 cannon.

Burkina Faso has over the last several years taken delivery of additional military equipment that has, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, included 120 mm mortars from Albania; a single DA 42 MPP reconnaissance aircraft from Austria, three Super Tucano trainer/combat aircraft from Brazil, ten Bastion armoured vehicles from France, 31 Puma M26 armoured personnel carriers from South Africa and two UH-1H helicopters from Taiwan as well as two Mi-171Sh armed helicopters from Russia. The Super Tucanos were first used for air strikes in September 2018.

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