Burkinabe Mi-17s returning to service


Burkina Faso is returning two of its stored Mi-17 transport helicopters to service, with the aircraft being overhauled in the Czech Republic.

The two aircraft were transported by an Il-76 from Base Aerienne 511 in Burkina Faso to Pardubice Airport on 15 March 2019 and then sent to Lom Praha’s facility at Kbely Air Field outside Prague, Jane’s Defence Weekly reports.

The aircraft, which were in storage for several years, are being overhauled and this includes the engines. Lom Praha will extend the aircraft’s service lives by four years, to 39, meaning they have another eight years of flying left, Lom Praha said.

Work is expected to conclude in early 2020, at which time the aircraft will be returned to Burkina Faso.

Lom Praha is no stranger to working with Burkina Faso and in July and August 2013 trained nine student pilots and flight engineers to operate Mi-17 helicopters.

Burkina Faso has been slowly improving its air force. For example, in August 2017 Rosoboronexport revealed that the West African country had ordered two Mi-171Sh armed helicopters for delivery in 2018.

Burkina Faso also has two Mi-24P helicopters in service, along with a handful of Alouette III, AS350 and AS365N Dauphin helicopters. A single AW139 was delivered in 2016. The country received two donated UH-1H Huey helicopters from Taiwan in June 2017.

Burkina Faso’s air force was until relatively recent incapable of combat but has been undergoing expansion in recent years, receiving two Mi-35s from Russia in 2005 and three Super Tucanos from Brazil in 2011. In spite of the acquisition of combat aircraft, the air arm is geared for border surveillance and similar missions.

Regarding fixed wing acquisitions, Burkina Faso in 2016 received a single Diamond DA 42 MPP and in December 2019 ordered a single C-295W transport aircraft from Airbus under its 2018-2022 Military Acquisition Law, which has been given a budget of $1.2 billion to reform and reequip the nation’s armed forces.