The Mozambican air force has received a second FTB-337G Milirole utility aircraft from Portugal. The ex-Portuguese Air Force aircraft was handed over by Portugal’s defence minister yesterday during his visit to Mozambique.
Defence Minister Jose Pedro Aguiar-Branco is visiting Mozambique from 3 to 8 July in order to strengthen bilateral defence relations, reports the Portuguese News Network.
Yesterday Aguiar-Branco handed over several boats for the Navy as well as the FTB-337G for the Air Force, after it had been overhauled in Portugal. He said the aircraft would primarily be used for pilot training. “We know how important it is in building an Air Force to have well-trained, educated pilots who are able to fulfil their missions flawlessly,” he said.
Aguiar-Branco and his Mozambican counterpart Philip Nyusi signed an agreement for both militaries to engage in humanitarian support and peace missions. The agreement also calls for cooperation in combating international crime and piracy. Aguiar-Branco said the agreement marked the beginning of a new stage of bilateral defence cooperation.
Aguiar-Branco yesterday handed over donated equipment for the Mozambican Navy. The defence minister is also scheduled to hand over sea rescue boats, visit the Samora Machel Military Academy and other military training centres.
The first Reims Aviation Milirole aircraft was officially delivered to the Força Aérea de Moçambique on March 3, 2011, during a ceremony attended by Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP) Chief of Staff General Jose Pinheiro and flown from Portugal to Mozambique aboard a FAP C-130H Hercules.
The aircraft are supplied under the CTM (Cooperação Técnico-Militar) technical military cooperation agreement between Mozambique and Portugal. This agreement also includes training and the FAP is working with the Mozambique Air Force on pilot and ground crew training in both countries.
The aircraft will be used for medical evacuations, pilot training and maritime surveillance – the latter is an important role as Somali pirates are reaching ever further south and several have strayed into Mozambican waters – earlier this year a group of pirates was captured off the coast.
The FAP in 1973 ordered 32 FTB-337Gs to replace its ageing Dornier 27. The aircraft were retired in July 2007 after 32 years of service. The twin-engine FTB-337G can carry five passengers or two stretchers and a medic and has underwing hardpoints for stores.
The FTB-337Gs are a major boost to Mozambique’s air force, which has no operational combat assets and has almost ceased to exist operationally, according to the Jane’s Information Group, which states that the service has suffered poor serviceability since independence from Portugal in 1975 and the collapse of the Soviet Union and its financial support in the early 1990s.
According to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2011, none of the Air Force’s combat aircraft are operational, with only a few transports (two An-26s, two CASA 212s and a Cessna 182) and several Z-326 trainers still flying.