Niger receives second ex-US C-130 Hercules


Niger’s Air Force has officially taken delivery of the second of three C-130H Hercules transport aircraft from the United States.

The US military formally transferred the aircraft (5U-MMS) to the Nigerien Armed Forces on 7 December during a ceremony at Nigerien Air Base 101 in the capital Niamey. The ceremony was attended by defence minister Alkassoum Indatou and other dignitaries.

Niger received the first (5U-MBH) of the three scheduled C-130 aircraft deliveries by the US in January 2021, and has employed the mobility platform for various humanitarian assistance operations and United Nations troop and vehicle movements.

Since 2015, the United States said it has invested more than $30 million in the development of the Niger Air Force’s C-130 programme including a training component, purchase of spare parts, infrastructure, fuel and support equipment.

In January, Ambassador Eric Whitaker pointed out that the United States had trained 16 Nigerien pilots, including the first female Nigerien C-130 pilot, 19 maintenance personnel, five baggage handlers and a flight engineer. In addition, the United States has injected more than $17 million in the acquisition of critical infrastructure including the renovation of a hangar for the C-130 at Air Base Number 201 in Agadez. Funds are being provided to support the construction of a second hangar and an aviation parts warehouse.

During the handover ceremony this week, US Embassy in Niamey Chargé d’Affaires, Susan N’Garnim, said, “This momentous occasion is a testament to the long-standing, enduring, and productive partnership between the United States and Niger.”

“We proudly stand alongside our Nigerien partners as we celebrate the enhanced strength of our coalition force,” said US Air Force Major General James Kriesel, National Guard Assistant to the Commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA (US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces in Africa). “Niger has built a defence framework committed to amplifying regional security and stability throughout the Sahel.”

In 2017, Niger became partners with the Indiana National Guard through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Programme, and USAFE-AFAFRICA has expanded these relationships through security cooperation initiatives, force development programmes, and participation in the recent Executive African Partnership Flight at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the US military said.

“USAFE-AFAFRICA’s presence in Niger reinforces commitment to the security and stability of the region by providing operational support and training resources to partners throughout the Sahel.”

The new acquisitions will be a major boost to Niger’s Air Force. It received two new C-130Hs in 1979 but one crashed in April 1997, killing 14 people. Other aircraft in Niger’s transport fleet include 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.

Niger’s third C-130H is due to arrive in the first half of 2022.

The United States has supplied other excess defence article Hercules to African countries, including Ethiopia, and is believed to have offered South Africa C-130Hs. However, defenceWeb understand this was not taken up because additional costs would be involved.