Cote d’Ivoire’s military has unveiled the acquisition of multiple new armoured vehicle types, at a parade celebrating the 62nd anniversary of the country’s independence. Also seen for the first time were unmanned aerial vehicles.
The parade in Yamoussoukro on 7 August revealed the country’s military is operating DCD Springbuck SD vehicles from South Africa, International Armoured Group (IAG) Jaws armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from the United Arab Emirates, WZ-551 6×6 infantry fighting vehicles from China, and Nurol Makina Ilgaz-II armoured vehicles from Turkey. The Armoured Group (TAG) has also supplied BATT UMG and Terrier LT-79 armoured vehicles to Cote d’Ivoire.
Some 20 new Otokar Cobra II light armoured vehicles were displayed during the parade, including an ambulance and a recovery vehicle. The vehicles are attached to Combined Arms Tactical Groups (GTIA) Bolt and Flash, which are intended as a rapid intervention reserve. Several were fitted with electronic jammers to counter remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Janes notes.
The new deliveries are a substantial boost to Cote d’Ivoire’s army, which previously was known to only operate handfuls of AML-60, AML-90, BRDM-2, ERC-90F4 Sagaie, BMP-1/2, VAB, M-3 Panhard, Mamba and BTR 80 armoured vehicles.
Cote d’Ivoire was also revealed to be operating Delair DT26 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) supplied by France. The Delair DT26X Surveillance can carry out remote or night surveillance missions, thanks to its 10 times optical zoom and infrared sensor. Apparently four were ordered last year by Cote d’Ivoire. DT26s have also been supplied to Niger.
On the naval side, Cote d’Ivoire will be receiving a single P400 patrol vessel from France and two OPV-45 offshore patrol vessels from Israel as it overhauls and expands its navy. Earlier this year it was reported that Cote d’Ivoire will apparently also be receiving helicopters from Israel. Jeune Afrique reported that ten helicopters were purchased in late 2021, including five MD500s and five Agustas supplied by Israeli company TAR Ideal Concepts.
The new acquisitions come after armed groups linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaida increasingly have crossed the border to launch attacks in Cote d’Ivoire, as Islamist extremists seek to expand toward the Gulf of Guinea from their strongholds in Mali and Burkina Faso. Ivorian authorities reported 13 cross-border attacks in 2021, which spurred increased militarization in the north and raised government concern over militants recruiting jobless young people.
The government continues to prioritise its military response and in 2021, President Alassane Ouattara promised to spend 1% of the country’s GDP on equipment to prevent terrorists from entering the country.
Ouattara made clear his twin intentions for security and economic action in the north in his State of the Nation address in April this year. “The government will spare no effort to guarantee the security of people and property and will continue to make the means available to law enforcement, particularly in terms of intelligence, equipment and training,” he said.