Burkina Faso acquires more military vehicles and UAVs

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Burkina Faso continues to build up its military amid ongoing terror attacks, and to this end has taken delivery of Bayraktar Akinci unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Turkey and nearly 100 military vehicles, including Temsah and Fahd armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from Egypt.

Burkina Faso’s Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Kassoum Coulibaly, received the vehicles during a handover ceremony on 18 April. He gave the equipment to the military’s Chief of General Staff, Brigadier General Celestin Simpore, and this included at least two Temsah 6×6 armoured vehicles, seven Fahd armoured ambulances, and 20 GAZ 3308 Sadco 4×4 trucks. A number of KrAZ-6322 6×6 trucks were also seen.

According to local media reports, a total of 75 vehicles were handed over and these included 20 KrAZ fuel tanker trucks, 20 “M53” vehicles, and several armoured cars.

Coulibaly said the acquisition was funded entirely by Burkina Faso with the support of Egypt. In January, it emerged that Egypt’s Arab Organisation of Industrialisation (AOI) had signed a contract to supply an unnamed African country with 25 Fahd APCs in addition to delivering the latest ambulance version of the APC to Burkina Faso.

The latest equipment delivery came after Burkina Faso’s military ruler Ibrahim Traore pledged further acquisitions. In March, Coulibaly received from China more than 80 vehicles offered to the military. These included over a dozen Maxus double cab pickups; and a number of cargo trucks, tanker trucks, and crane trucks, apparently manufactured by Dongfeng.

On 8 April Traore officially delivered a dozen combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the country’s armed forces. At least two Bayraktar Akinci UAVs were seen at a new UAV base south of Ougadougou. Three Bayraktar TB2s were also observed – the type has already been seen in Burkinabe service, with five aircraft delivered from April 2022.

Traore’s office released a statement thanking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and saying the expansion of the UAV fleet “makes it possible to intervene in a timely manner and to have permanent surveillance”.

According to Janes, one of the Akincis had the serial number S3 on its tail, suggesting it was one of the first six production models originally delivered to Turkish forces in August 2021.

Akinci S40 was seen in Ethiopia in January for the first time, along with newly acquired Sukhoi Su-30K combat aircraft. It is unclear how many Akincis Ethiopia has acquired. The Akinci can reach an altitude of 11 000 metres and has a 25 hour endurance. It can be armed with a variety of weapons – the Ethiopian aircraft have been seen with underwing MAM-L missiles manufactured by Roketsan.

Since 2021, Ethiopia has operated Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, with at least four deployed at Bahir Dar and Harar Meda Air Bases (other TB2 customers in Africa include Libya, Morocco, Niger, Djibouti, Togo, Nigeria, Mali, Rwanda and Tunisia). Ethiopian TB2s have been used against the Tigray People’s Liberation Forces, along with Wing Loong and Qods Mohajer-6 UAVs acquired from China and Iran respectively. It is likely the new Akinci UAVs will also be used in combat.

Shortly after delivery, Burkina Faso appeared to begin using its Akinci UAVs in combat, with video published on 29 April purportedly showing Akinci and TB2 strikes against terrorist targets. The country has used UAVs extensively to combat Islamist fighters, but unfortunately dozens of civilians have also been killed in these strikes. Various Turkish weapons have been acquired for Burkina Faso’s UAVs, including MAM-L and MAM-T munitions and bomb guidance kits.

Since 2015, the country has been grappling with armed terrorist groups, which have caused 10 000 casualties and the displacement of some two million people, and this instability has been a factor behind the two coups that occurred in 2022. Last year, Burkina Faso surpassed Afghanistan as the country most impacted by terrorism, with nearly 2 000 deaths.

According to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), deaths from terrorism in Burkina Faso increased successively each year since 2014 when no deaths were recorded. Deaths surged from 1 135 in 2022 to 1 907 in 2023, a 68% increase, despite a nearly 16% decline in the number of attacks last year.

Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) continues to be the most prominent terrorist group in Burkina Faso, being responsible for 134 deaths in 2022 and 616 in 2023. Islamic State also increased its activity in Burkina Faso, claiming responsibility for seven attacks in 2023 compared to two in the previous year. Eighty-five percent of attacks and 59% of deaths in the country were attributed to unknown jihadist groups. This puts Burkina Faso amongst the countries with the highest rate of unclaimed terrorist attacks and deaths globally, according to the IEP’s Global Terrorism Index.