Malawi Defence Force flying Gazelles


The Malawi Defence Force Air Wing has taken delivery of four ex-United Kingdom Gazelle helicopters, which were apparently supplied by Paramount Group.

Two of the Gazelle AH1s were first seen in November last year in Malawi. They are part of a batch of 30 Gazelles that were sold by the British Army Air Corps. After retirement they were put in storage at RAF Shawbury, Shropshire, between 2004 and 2009, and put up for sale in November 2009, according to Air Forces Daily.

At least three were moved to MW Helicopters at Stapleford Tawney, Essex, and were UK registered to London-based Kemet Global Ltd, before being exported to South Africa in 2014 and acquired by the Paramount Group. It appears that five Gazelles were sold to Paramount, with four (serials 1237, 1351, 1409 and 1682) being sold to Malawi. The fifth (serial 1999) was registered G-CHMF in 2012 and ZU-RNO in 2015 and in 2013 donated to the Kruger National Park for anti-poaching duties.

In addition, Paramount has another Gazelle (serial 1418, registration ZU-HBH) that is used to support its anti-poaching duties and is often used by the company’s canine training academy, which specialises in training tracking dogs mainly for counter-poaching duties. This helicopter was built in 1976 and was formerly operated by the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.

Paramount’s Gazelle serial 1409 was seen at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof in September 2014, where it was fitted with the FLASH multi-platform modular mission system for helicopters which includes a stabilised sight, mission computer, mission display, weapons control panel and weapons (12.7 mm gun pod, 20 mm cannon, 70 mm rockets and Ingwe anti-tank missiles).

This evolved from the Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE) Stand Alone Weapon System (SAWS) system for helicopters, which was developed in conjunction with Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters). ATE was subsequently bought by Paramount to become Paramount Advanced Technologies. The SAWS package featured a Belgian FN Herstal HMP–400 12.7 mm machine gun, a French Nexter NC-621 20mm cannon, FZ-233 70 mm rockets and Denel’s Ingwe anti-tank missile.

Paramount has supplied equipment to Malawi before. In November 2013 the Malawi Defence Force Marine Unit commissioned seven new Guardian BR850 interceptor boats from Nautic Africa, in which Paramount has a majority stake, and in 2013 Malawi received six Marauder armoured personnel carriers, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Other South African companies have also supplied Malawi in the last five years, having delivered four Casspirs in 2012 and 18 Puma M-26 armoured vehicles in 2013-2014.