Mali has ordered a second C295 transport aircraft from Airbus, which will join the Air Force’s fleet in 2021.
This second aircraft will supplement the first C295 already in operation since December 2016, Airbus said on 2 December. The first aircraft has already accumulated 1 770 flight hours and transported more than 38 000 passengers and 900 tonnes of cargo in less than four years of operations.
The new order also includes an integrated logistics support package with spare parts for the two aircraft and training for flight crews and mechanics. The second aircraft will be delivered in transport configuration.
“This acquisition is in response to the urgent need of the authorities of the Republic of Mali to have permanent air transport capacity within a very short timeframe, providing a vital link supporting operations and actions for the development of isolated areas in the northern regions of the country,” Airbus said.
Bernhard Brenner, Head of Marketing and Sales at Airbus Defence and Space, said: “This repeat order demonstrates the excellent capabilities and performance of our aircraft. The C295 is becoming the 21st century standard tactical airlifter in Africa with 37 aircraft ordered in the region, from Algeria, Egypt and Ghana to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali.”
Mali’s first C295 arrived in the capital Bamako on 15 December 2016, entering service with the Transport Squadron based at Base Aerienne 101 Bamako-Senou.
According to IHS Janes, Mali’s selection of the aircraft was influenced by Ghana’s use of the C295 in support of the Minusma mission in Mali from 2014, with the aircraft exhibiting good endurance and unrefuelled range as well as the ability to operate on unpaved runways.
Mali received the winglet-equipped C295W, which is now the standard production version. It was unveiled in 2013 with the aim of improving performance and fuel economy, especially in hot and high conditions. The winglets improve cruise and fuel consumption through a reduction in drag and increase in lift – the C295W features a 200 mile range increase over the baseline model as a result of changes, or a 30-60 minute increase in endurance.
Meanwhile, updated Pratt & Whitney PW127 engines add power in climb and cruise, improving all round performance. The engine changes increase payload by 1 500 kg at 25 000 feet, raise maximum operational altitude from 24 000 to 26 000 feet and increase payload by 1 ton from hot and high airfields.
Mali’s Air Force has grown over the last several years, with fixed and rotary wing acquisitions. In October 2017 Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita welcomed new aircraft into the Air Force’s inventory, including a C-295W transport, two Y-12E light utility aircraft and a Super Puma transport helicopter (out of two ordered). In July 2018 Mali received four Embraer Super Tucano light attack and trainer aircraft from Brazil after ordering them in 2015. In April 2019 Mali’s Air Force received a Cessna 208 Caravan configured for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) that was donated by the European Union to combat terrorism and insecurity. In 2017, Mali received the first of four Mi-35M attack helicopters from Russia.
The new aircraft will be used to support Mali’s counter-insurgency and terrorism efforts. The country has been in turmoil since 2012, when Tuareg rebels took over the north and advanced towards the capital, Bamako.