The small Congolese Air Force is set to receive an ex-Botswana Defence Force (BDF) CASA CN235 transport aircraft.
CN235M-10 (cn C009, TN-228) was spotted undergoing a test flight at Lanseria International Airport earlier this year, according to the March edition of Air International magazine, which adds that the aircraft will soon be delivered to the Force Aérienne Congolaise (Congolese Air Force).
This is one of two ex-Botswana Defence Force Air Wing CN235s, which were retired after being replaced by new production CN235M-300s from December 2009. Botswana was the second African customer for the CN235 and received its two examples in 1987-88. The older aircraft were subsequently placed in storage at Lanseria. The other aircraft (cn C008, 5V-MBM) was spotted last year in Togolese Air Force markings.
Both CN235s are registered with Fayard Enterprises of Wake Forest, North Carolina. This company primarily provides skydiving operations with aircraft and aircraft maintenance services.
The CN235 is able to carry up to six tonnes of payload. Its two General Electric GE CT7-9C3 turboprop engines, each delivering 1 870 shp, give it a maximum cruise speed of 240 kt (450 km/h). Nearly 280 CN235s have been built for 43 operators in 28 countries around the world. CN235s have accumulated more than a million flight hours.
Congo-Brazzaville has a very small air force geared towards providing transport, especially to the president and government ministers, according to Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment. Janes adds that since 1997, the air force has “effectively ceased to exist as a viable and effective military organisation. Even before the civil war, most types had been withdrawn from service.”
The Congolese Air Force’s only combat capable aircraft are two ex-South African Air Force Mirage F1s acquired several years ago after being refurbished by the Paramount Group (the Air Force’s dozen MiG-21s are all grounded).
The Congolese Air Force has a motley collection of transport aircraft and helicopters. These include an An-12, five An-24s, one An-26, a Boeing 727, one Fokker F-28 and an N-2501 Noratlas, according to the IISS’s The Military Balance.
Only a few helicopters are in flying condition, including a Mi-26, AS 365 Dauphin, SA 316 Alouette III and SA 318 Alouette II. Other aircraft in the Congo’s inventory include four L-39 Albatros jets. A number of Mi-8/17s may also be in service.