Senegal has become the latest African country to receive Airbus C295 aircraft, taking delivery of the first of two transports on 28 July.
Senegal’s Armed Forces reported that the aircraft was received during a ceremony held in Dakar. A second C295 will arrive at the end of 2023.
Minister of Armed Forces Sidiki Kaba said “These two aircraft will enable Senegal to ensure, independently, the projection and disengagement of its troops engaged in the various theatres of external operations and to meet all the transport and training needs of the internal theatre.”
Kaba also received Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters that had recently undergone major servicing. “The acquisition of the CASA 295 and the return from overhaul of the combat helicopters are expanding the Air Force fleet. The challenge of preserving potential remains to be met, in the particularly demanding field of aviation.”
“Today is certainly historic as it marks an important turning point in the life of the armed forces, which are significantly increasing their capabilities in the context of strategic air transport,” Kaba said.
“A multirole tactical transport aircraft equipped with the latest generation technologies, the CASA 295 has large personnel carrying capacities. Beyond its take-off and landing performance on short runways, its versatility allows it to cover a wide spectrum of missions in air transport, air drop, and medical evacuation thanks to a configuration change capability in very short timelines.”
In addition to aircraft, Senegal will take delivery of eight LG1 105 mm howitzers from France’s Nexter, and is receiving around 5 000 M4A1 rifles from the United States to replace the country’s M16A1 assault rifles. The latest tranche of rifles arrived in Dakar in January this year.
The equipment acquisition is part of President Macky Sall’s Emerging Senegal Plan that aims to enhance the country’s armed forces. Impending deliveries include three OPV 58S offshore patrol vessels from Piriou, while in June, Senegal’s armed forces received Puma M36 armoured personnel carriers from South Africa, as well as heavy machineguns, mortars, recovery vehicles, assault rifles, riot shields, a dozen Toyota Land Cruisers equipped with pintle-mounted heavy machineguns, combat ambulances, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and riot helmets.
In addition to Islamist terror groups in the Sahel, Senegal is dealing with separatists in its Casamance region, the location of one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.
The C295 is accumulating a steady stream of orders in Africa. In November 2021 Airbus delivered a C295W to Burkina Faso and on 31 May, Mali received a second C295 after a year’s delay due to US sanctions. The first arrived in December 2016 from Airbus. Earlier this year, Angola firmed up an order for three C295s, four years after its government first revealed plans to acquire the aircraft, which will be used in part for maritime surveillance.