Three African countries will soon be receiving ex-United States C-130H Hercules transport aircraft under the Excess Defence Articles programme.
According to the Excess Defence Articles (EDA) database, Tunisia in 2019 requested two C-130H aircraft and these have been allocated by the US Air Force. The total acquisition value is $6 million, although current acquisition value is $24 million. They will join the Tunisian Air Force’s two C-130J-30 Super Hercules, delivered in 2013 and 2014, one C-130H and two C-130Bs. Tunisia was the first African country to receive a J model Hercules, after signing a contract for two aircraft, training and three years of logistical support in March 2010.
“Tunisia has expanded its acquisitions of US defence materiel in recent years in order to maintain its US-origin stocks and expand its counterterrorism capacity. The State Department has licensed the sale of 12 Black Hawk helicopters, and Tunisia has been approved to receive additional grant-based equipment transfers through the Excess Defence Articles (EDA) programme, including Kiowa helicopters and C-130 aircraft,” a Congressional Research Service briefing said in November 2019. The briefing added that the US Department of Defence has provided substantial military assistance to Tunisia focussing on counterterrorism and border security.
On 15 September this year, members of the Tunisian Air Force arrived in the United States for a two week aviation familiarisation event with the Wyoming National Guard, including helicopter and C-130 maintenance familiarisation.
Morocco, meanwhile, in June 2019 requested two C-130H Hercules, and two have been allocated along with six C-130 external fuel tanks and six pylons. They are worth $60 million. The Royal Moroccan Air Force already flies the C-130, with 12 C-130H transport and two KC-130H tanker aircraft in service. These are complemented by four C-27J Spartans, seven CN-235s and several Do 28s.
Niger in 2015 requested a WC-130H aircraft and a wing set (total acquisition value $63 million) and in 2019 requested four T56-A-15 engines and propellers for the Hercules, with four allocated. The engines and propellers are worth $6 million.
Nigerien pilots have been training on the C-130 in the United States, with the first female pilot in the Nigerien Air Force completing her six-month training in April this year. In January the United States military’s Africa Command handed over a new C-130 hangar, worth $7 million, at Air Base 201 near Agadez. The construction of the hangar was funded by the Department of State.
“The hangar will ultimately shelter up to two C-130 mobility aircraft, recently purchased by the Nigerien Air Force from the United States,” Africa Command said. “Since 2016, the US had invested more than $60 million in ‘total package support’ to Niger’s C-130 programme that will include a team of maintainers and training fuel upon arrival of the first aircraft later this spring.”
Niger bought two new C-130Hs which were delivered 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.