Niger has apparently taken delivery of two armed Mi-171Sh helicopters after ordering the aircraft for some $47 million.
According to the website Direct Niger, the two aircraft arrived in the capital Niamey on 24 February aboard an Antonov An-124 transport aircraft along with ammunition, spare parts and maintenance equipment.
Pilot training took place in Russia in late 2019 and was due to be followed by training in Niger, with thirty pilots and technicians undergoing several months of training, the website said.
It is believed the aircraft were ordered between 2017 and 2019 for $47 million, according to Nigerien media.
The delivery is a major boost to Niger’s Air Force, which only a few combat aircraft in its inventory, including a couple of Mi-24 attack helicopters and two Su-25 attack aircraft, which were delivered in March 2013. Originally destined for Mali, the Su-25s were sold to Niger after the Mali deal fell through. Also in March 2013, Niger received three ex-French Army Air Corps Gazelle helicopters, which were refurbished by Aerotech Group SAS in France prior to delivery and are armed with 20 mm cannons.
Other aircraft in the Niger Air Force’s fleet include two Diamond DA 42 MPP aircraft, used for surveillance, three Humbert Tetras light aircraft, a single C-130 Hercules transport, a Boeing 737-200, a single Dornier 28 and Dornier 228 and a couple of Mi-17s.
Between 2013 and 2015 Niger received four Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft from the United States, with two configured for surveillance. The United States is also providing two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to Niger, and built a hangar for them at Air Base 201 near Agadez. Niger will be receiving the aircraft later this year.