Liberia’s armed forces are now operating Streit Cougar armoured vehicles, representing one of the military’s biggest acquisitions since the civil war came to an end in 2003.
The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) last week published photos from its Armed Forces Day celebrations, which were held on 11 February. At least three Cougars were seen in a parade, along with Land Cruiser-type vehicles and rigid-hulled inflatable boats.
The Cougars were seen fitted with open-topped one-man turrets, but with no fixed weapons – instead they were displayed with a soldier holding a PKM-type machinegun.
The Cougar is built on the Land Cruiser 79 series chassis and can carry up to eight people. The 4×4 Cougar is powered by a 4.5 litre V8 diesel engine producing 265 hp. Streit claims it is the lowest priced Level B6 protected armoured personnel carrier on the market (the hull provides protection against 7.62×51 mm NATO calibre rounds at a range of 10 m). Streit has delivered a number of Cougars to African countries, including Mali and Nigeria.
The arrival of the Cougars is a landmark in the rebuilding of Liberia’s military. In August 2008 Liberia’s President formally created the new Armed Forces of Liberia after the military was left in tatters when the country’s 14 year long civil war ended in 2003.
Liberia’s military has almost no hardware, as almost all aircraft, equipment, materiel and facilities were damaged or destroyed during the Civil War. The country has received little new equipment, apart from some 50 assault rifles, 200 000 rounds of 7.62 and 100 000 rounds of 9 mm ammunition received from China in 2008. The United States has subsequently donated Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles and Boston Whaler boats to Liberia’s armed forces while China has provided trucks, graders and other items.
The National Coast Guard was formally re-established in February 2010. It operates two US Coast Guard Defender class boats donated by the US in February 2011 and two Boston Whaler boats donated in 2016. The 2008 defence act calls for the creation of an Air Wing – the Nigerian Air Force finished training the first two Liberian pilots in 2018.