Gambia has apparently become the latest customer for Turkey’s Hizir armoured personnel carrier, after ordering 20 of the type.
Africa Intelligence reported last year that Gambia was ordering 20 Hizir vehicles from Katmerciler, and Turkish defence publication DefenceTurk reported earlier this month that the agreement was signed in August 2021.
It went on to state that photos showed Hizir vehicles in Gambian camouflage, indicating testing and deliveries were underway. The apparent order comes after a March 2021 visit by a Gambian military delegation to Turkey that discussed bilateral cooperation.
Since 1965, both countries have maintained good relations bilaterally and multilaterally, especially at the United Nations and Islamic Cooperation Organization. Turkish military officers have provided training since the 1990s and between 1991 and 2007, Turkish military trainers trained around 7 000 Gambian soldiers. After the expiry of the training agreement between two countries in 2007, Gambian troops started receiving training in Turkey and since then more than 500 Gambian soldiers have visited Turkey for training. In January, 250 Gambian soldiers arrived in Turkey to receive counter-terrorism training.
In 2014, defence cooperation was further deepened, and the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey signed a bilateral agreement for the provision of logistical assistance to the Gambia Armed Forces. Turkey also donated $600,000 to help Gambia with its peacekeeping mission in Mali and other logistical issues.
In April this year, Turkey provided security equipment to Gambia that included shields, gas masks, radios and other items. Other donations have included thousands of uniforms, tents, water bottles and other equipment. In 2019 it was announced that Turkey had provided $1.4 million in military assistance to The Gambia, the content of which was not disclosed.
Gambia is the latest Hizir customer in Africa after Kenya and Uganda also acquired the type. Kenya ordered 118 last year, for delivery in 2022-23, while Uganda ordered 30, with deliveries in 2020 in the type’s first export sale.
The Hizir recently entered service with Turkey’s military. It can carry nine personnel, including driver and commander. The vehicle has a gross weight of 16 tons and has a V-hull for landmine and improvised explosive device protection. It is powered by a Cummins six-cylinder diesel developing 400 hp, giving a top speed of 110 km/h and range of 700 kilometres.
The Hizir can be built in a number of configurations, including combat, command and control, CBRN, weapon carrier, ambulance, reconnaissance and border security. It can be fitted with an Aselsan SARP turret with machineguns or an automatic grenade launcher.
Turkey is aggressively pushing diplomacy and arms sales in Africa and these efforts are bearing fruit. According to Turkey’s 2021 defence export figures, Turkey’s arms sales reached new heights, with the biggest increase to African countries.
Compared to the previous year, Turkey increased its defence exports to Africa by 700% in 2021, from $41 million to $328 million, putting the continent fifth in Turkey’s defence exports, following North America ($1.56 billion), the Commonwealth of Independent States ($411 million), the Middle East ($381.1 million) and European Union countries ($338 million). Total Turkish defence exports for 2021 amounted to nearly $3 billion, up 40% from the year before.