Two Gazelle helicopters, apparently supplied by Paramount Group, have been observed to have joined the Mozambican Air Force as efforts to fight the Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado continue. It is understood that the Gazelles form part of a larger number of helicopter platforms provided by Paramount to the Mozambican government.
Gazelles with serials FA-085 (formerly XX445) and FA-083 (formerly ZB673) were seen at Nacala Airport in Mozambique in February this year, painted in green and brown camouflage the same as the Mozambican Air Force’s Mi-24/25/35 attack helicopters (the latter are apparently all withdrawn from use or in storage).
According to Scramble magazine, they are part of a batch of 30 former British Army Air Corps Gazelles acquired at auction by Paramount. The two Gazelles spotted in Mozambique were part of a group of 13 stored at Stapleford Tawney in the United Kingdom since 2012.
It is understood that additional Gazelles are being prepared for export from the UK. According to Aviafora, four ex-UK SA 341B Gazelles from Stapleford are being readied for shipment to South Africa. Photos from late February revealed the aircraft being partially disassembled ahead of delivery. They were being fitted with Garmin GPS systems.
“Whether these four aircraft will serve in Mozambique, at the Paramount Academy in Polokwane or with some other African defence force, we are not yet sure,” Aviafora reported.
Africa Intelligence in December last year reported that an agreement with Paramount covers at least 12 Marauder armoured vehicles and four Gazelle helicopters, with the Gazelles to be delivered by February.
Fifteen Mozambican pilots were being trained at the Paramount Technical Training Academy based at Polokwane International Airport, Africa Intelligence reported. Burnham Global is also providing training in the operation of the armoured vehicles on the ground in Mozambique, according to the Daily Maverick.
Paramount has supplied Gazelles to a number of operators, including Malawi. Four ex-UK Gazelles were delivered in 2015 while Paramount donated a single Gazelle to South African National Parks in 2013 and another Gazelle to Gabon for counter-poaching in 2016.
Gazelles have been used to support Paramount’s anti-poaching duties and is often used by the company’s canine training academy, which specialises in training tracking dogs mainly for counter-poaching duties.
Paramount’s Gazelle serial 1409 was seen at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof in September 2014, where it was fitted with the FLASH multi-platform modular mission system for helicopters which includes a stabilised sight, mission computer, mission display, weapons control panel and weapons (12.7 mm gun pod, 20 mm cannon, 70 mm rockets and Ingwe anti-tank missiles).
In addition to the Gazelles, Marauder armoured personnel carriers have been seen in Mozambique, with the type being first observed there in November 2020 to reinforce landward operations against Islamist insurgents in the north of the country.
South African companies have been supplying equipment and expertise to help the Mozambican government fight the Cabo Delgado insurgency, with Dyck Advisory Group supporting the police services. They have been using aircraft provided by Ultimate Aviation, amongst others. Dyck Advisory Group lost a Gazelle helicopter in April 2020, which was apparently shot down by insurgents it was targeting at the time – a Bat Hawk microlight crashed in June in an apparent accident.
Various aircraft have been observed in Mozambique supporting private military contractors, including a UH-1 Huey, Cessna Caravan, Bell Long Ranger, Diamond DA 42 and CADG Helix. The airpower has helped fight the insurgency but was not enough to stop insurgents capturing Mocimboa da Praia in August.
A recent video released by Dyck contractors showed them flying Alouette III, Jet Ranger and Gazelle helicopters in Mozambique. They were armed with Chinese-made W85 heavy and Type 80 general purpose machineguns, Soviet-designed AGS-17 30 mm automatic grenade launchers and improvised gas cannister based “barrel bombs”.