Ghana Air Force orders two C295 aircraft


Ghana’s Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with Airbus Military for two C295 aircraft, which will be delivered from the beginning of next year, Airbus announced today.

Airbus said that Ghana selected the C295 because of its ease of maintenance and ability to operate in harsh environments. Ghana was originally interested in acquiring the C-27J Spartan from Alenia Aeronautica and requested four C-27Js in September 2009.

The EADS CASA C295 is a twin turboprop multirole transport aircraft manufactured by Airbus Military in Spain. It is capable of accommodating 71 troops, 50 paratroops or five standard cargo pallets (payload is 9 200 kg).

Ghana’s order brings the C295’s order book to 85 aircraft for 14 customers. More than 75 C295s are currently flying with 11 countries, having accumulated more than 100,000 flight hours.

Ghana has a very small air force, with around 2000 personnel. According to the 2011 IISS Military Balance, it has nine transport aircraft, including one Britten-Norman BN-2 Defender, three Cessna 172s, four Fokker F-27 Friendships and one Fokker F-28 Fellowship. The latter is used for VIP transport, which is one of the air force’s main duties.

In the way of combat aircraft, Ghana’s air force only has three single seat Aermacchi MB-326K ground attack aircraft. It also has two MB-339, two L-39ZO and four Hongdu K-8 Karakorum trainers.

Ghana’s Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General JH Smith, said the C295 will enable the Air Force to move troops and other security agencies across the country and within the West African sub-region. The aircraft will also be used for medical evacuation, paratrooping, training and humanitarian operations, including assistance to organizations such as National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the peace mission of the United Nations.

It is not clear if the C295s will be used for maritime patrol – the Gulf of Guinea has seen a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on ships this year. Just yesterday, pirates attacked two ships carrying oil off the cosat of Benin, but were driven off by the Benin navy before they could steal the cargo.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is not on the scale of that off Somalia, but analysts say an increase in scope and number of attacks in a region ill-equipped to counter the threat could affect shipping and investment. For instance, Cameroon blamed piracy for part of a 13 percent drop in oil output in 2009. Ghana is becoming a major oil producer in the region after beginning production in December last year. Washington estimates the Gulf of Guinea will supply about a quarter of US oil by 2015 and has sent military trainers to the region to help local navies secure shipping.

Other rising problems in the region include drug trafficking, which is also having an impact on the region’s economies. The United Nations estimates that US$1 billion worth of cocaine, destined for Europe from Latin America, passed through West Africa in 2008.