The United States has donated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which will use them for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).
The UAVs appear to be Aerostars manufactured by Israel’s Aeronautics Defence Systems but possibly acquired through General Dynamics in the United States, which has an agreement in place with Aeronautics.
The UAVs were handed over to Amisom on 26 February at Baledogle, Somalia, by Ambassador Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia.
“We are launching today a force enabler which we have been requesting for over a period of time, which has now come to fruition. This platform will provide our troops with much needed real time intelligence that will facilitate Amisom forces to detect and monitor armed groups’ activities and strengthen Amisom’s counter IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) capability,” Madeira said.
“Allow me to cease this opportunity, on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to thank the US government, more specifically the US Department of State for its continued support to the African Union, not only with this system but long before that, substantial amounts of money and resources that the US has been putting and is still putting in capacitating the African Union to carry out its mandate in Somalia.
“We are being empowered this way and it is important that Somalis themselves are empowered because we and the Somali National Security Forces are like two sides of a coin. We might be strong [but] if the Somalis are not strong, it won’t work.”
Martin Dale, Charge D’affaires, United States Mission to Somalia, said “The United States is a very committed partner, not only to Amisom but to our Somali partners as well. We have been providing extensive assistance to Amisom partners, to Troop Contributing Countries, who we also honour and it’s been an honour to work with you, as we facilitate peace and prosperity in Somalia.”
The handover was also attended by Amisom Force Commander Lt Gen Jim B Owoyesigire; Deputy Commanding General for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) in Somalia, Brig General Miguel Castellanos; and Amisom Acting Police Commissioner Christine Alalo.
In September 2017 it emerged that the United States was to provide a UAV surveillance system to Amisom. A Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) spokesperson told IHS Jane’s that a United Kingdom-led intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) training course was held for Amisom personnel in Mogadishu. The course concluded on 25 August and involved CJTF-HOA personnel.
The United States has provided other support to Amisom and its contributing countries, such as Acmat Bastion armoured vehicles to Uganda. In September last year 19 vehicles were donated to Amisom’s Ugandan contingent. The Ugandan contingent remains the largest with over 6 000 troops.
In September 2015 the United States ordered Bastions for five African nations with 32 vehicles destined for Somalia, 17 to Uganda and 13 to Amisom’s Somali contingent. Tunisia was to receive four, Cameroon 15 and Ethiopia 12.