Mauritania acquires new military hardware from China

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Mauritania’s military has taken delivery of fire support vehicles, air defence systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles from China as it builds up its military capabilities.

The new equipment was inspected by Mauritanian President and Armed Forces Commander Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani on a 9 June visit to a military headquarters unit. He was seen with 20 WMA301 (PTL02) fire-support vehicles armed with 105 mm guns, and eight Yitian-L short-range air-defence systems, both of which are offered for export by Norinco.

The Yitian-L is mounted on a Dongfeng Mengshi tactical vehicle and has four TY-90 missiles, whereas the Yitian and newer Yitian II are both mounted on armoured personnel carriers and have eight missiles. The system has a radar with an 18 km range and ability to engage targets out to 6 km.

Agence Mauritanienne d’Information (AMI) reported that the ‘arsenal of military equipment’ is to modernise the Mauritanian military as dictated by the current geostrategic challenges in the subregion and the world. The new equipment was reported to include armoured vehicles, artillery, anti-aircraft systems, radar systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Mauritanian TY-90 air defence systems.

While not shown during El Ghazouani’s inspection, the president’s office said the equipment included “highly effective reconnaissance and attack drones capable of covering the entire national territory, including territorial waters, around the clock”.

Mauritanian television showed footage of the president being briefed on the new UAVs, with a visual presentation saying the aircraft have an operational radius of 2 000 km, an endurance of 36 hours, and ability to carry six guided missiles with a range of 14 km.

Images posted online appear to show six Harbin BZK-005E UAVs in Mauritanian markings. Mena Defense reported Mauritania as the first export customer for the armed version of the BZK-005. The BZK-005 is an important type with the Chinese military, having entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF) as well as the PLA around 2009. It was developed by the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA – now Beihang University) and Harbin. It has a roughly 40-hour endurance and range of several thousand kilometres

Other military equipment seen during the 9 June inspection included a dozen Toyota Land Cruisers fitted with roof-mounted machineguns, and 15 Calidus MCAV-20 armoured vehicles manufactured in the United Arab Emirates.

Mauritanian MCAV-20 APCs.