The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is supplying 30 Typhoon armoured vehicles to Mali’s military to improve its ability to fight growing insecurity in the region, with the first batch delivered last week. The European Union also just delivered another batch of Bastion vehicles to Mali’s armed forces.
According to flight tracking data, an Antonov An-124 from Volga Dnepr Airlines (RA-82079) made a couple of stops in Mali’s capital Bamako over the last week. It arrived there on 16 January after flying from the UAE via Jordan and Tunisia and was in Bamako again on 19 January before heading out to Tunisia.
The flight on 16 January delivered the first seven of 30 Streit Typhoon 4×4 vehicles, with the second flight presumably containing another seven vehicles.
Mali’s Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in December said on national television that the UAE is giving Mali 30 vehicles to strengthen its armed forces. “They (the UAE) promise they will give us, as soon as possible, about 30 armoured Cougar-type vehicles to support our defence forces. They are very willing to grant us technical and financial assistance in the fight against terrorism and walk along us through this combat that we are waging on behalf of all the nations across the world,” Cisse said.
According to Cisse, the acquisition of about 100 additional armoured vehicles is being negotiated with the UAE. Agence France Presse reported that 30 of the vehicles are a gift from the UAE and the remaining 100 are being bought by the Malian government.
According to Streit, the 4×4 Typhoon can carry a driver, commander and eight dismounts. It has a V-shaped hull to withstand landmines and is blast protected to STANAG 4569 Level 2 but can be upgraded to Level 4. It can be configured as a command and control vehicle, medical evacuation platform or as a forward observation platform.
The UAE has been strengthening its ties with Mali, as well as other African countries, and has donated armoured vehicles to Somalia, for example. In July 2019 the UAE pledged $250 million in financial aid to Mali, supporting its balance of payments and funding new housing projects. The aid is being provided through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
In May last year, Cisse met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to sign agreements covering economics, trade, defence and culture. The military co-operation agreement was signed by Mohammed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs.
Meanwhile, the European Union Training Mission Mali on 17 January handed over 13 Aarqus Bastion vehicles to the Sahel G5 Joint Force outside Bamako to equip Malian battalions that contribute to the force. It said that eight are for troop transport, two for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams, two are medical vehicles and one is destined to be a Command Post vehicle.
“This delivery is part of the 46 Bastion vehicles that the five countries of the Joint Sahel Force will receive, which confirm the firm commitment of the European Union to peace and stability in the Sahel,” the EU Training Mission said.
Agence France Presse reported that in addition to those delivered to Mali on the 17th, 13 have already been delivered to Niger, 7 to Mauritania, 4 to Chad and 4 to Burkina. In the coming weeks, three more will be supplied to Chad and two to Burkina Faso, according to a European diplomatic source.
The EU has provided €155 million to support the Joint Force since its creation, with most of the funds having being disbursed. Another €138 million has been pledged.
Mali has recently taken delivery of other armoured vehicle types, having received 24 Storm armoured personnel carriers from Qatar in December 2018. They were flown in aboard Qatari C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The vehicles, made by Qatar’s Stark Motors, are based on the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 series chassis and were to be used by Mali as well as the other four countries of the G5 Sahel group, which are Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger. They will be used to combat Boko Haram, Islamic State and other terror groups in the region, especially in areas where there is a high risk from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Storms joined Mali’s fleets of BTR-60 armoured personnel carriers, BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicles, Bastion APCs, and a mix of at least 10 Python and four Gladiator APCs made by the Streit Group.