Mali’s air force is getting ready to receive at least one Harbin Y-12E light transport aircraft, with the aircraft seen flying in China ahead of delivery.
The aircraft, painted in desert camouflage with Malian air force roundels, was spotted in China at the end of last month. Photos posted on Twitter show it wearing a temporary registration number.
It is not clear how many Y-12s have been ordered by Mali. It is not the only recent African sale – in July last year Djibouti’s Air Force received two Y-12Es from China.
The Y-12 is an improved Chinese copy of the Twin Otter built by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (HAMC). Maximum payload is 5 700 kg with seating for 17 passengers as well as two crewmembers. The Y-12E variant has 18 passenger seats and Pratt & Whitney PT6A engines.
The acquisition is yet another element of the Malian air force’s expansion, which has seen it take delivery of new transport, attack and training aircraft. In October last year the country received its first of two H215 Super Puma helicopters from Airbus Helicopters and that December a single C295W transport from Airbus Defence and Space. The C295W is being used to provide logistics support, medical evacuation, and troop transport capabilities to the Malian military.
Other aircraft are expected this year, including six A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training turboprops from Embraer. They will deployed for advanced training, border surveillance, and internal security missions, giving a major boost to the Mali Air Force’s combat fleet, which includes the MiG-21s and several Mi-24 attack helicopters. Ordered in June 2015, deliveries are imminent, with the aircraft being seen undergoing test flights in Brazil in December 2016.
Mali will also soon take delivery of an Mi-35M attack helicopter from Russian Helicopters. The sale was announced last year and the aircraft was recently seen flying in Russia in March this year. It is not clear how many Mi-35Ms Mali has ordered.