Mali’s military has taken delivery of 30 Streit Cougar armoured personnel carriers (APCs) donated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They will be used to combat Islamist militants in the Sahel.
The Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) on 28 January said the first batch of 15 Cougars had arrived, with the second batch of 15 being unloaded from Modibo Keita International Airport on 31 January. They were accepted by Brigadier General Moustapha Drabo, director of equipment, finance and transport of the Armed Forces of Mali.
Mali’s military said the “sophisticated latest generation vehicles will allow the FAMA to fight effectively against obscurantist forces.”
The delivery comes as the UAE provides Streit Typhoons to Mali, with the first batch delivered in mid-January this year. An initial seven vehicles were delivered, but on 31 January the FAMA said 35 Typhoons had been received so far.
Mali’s Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in December said on national television that the UAE was giving Mali 30 vehicles to strengthen its armed forces. According to Cisse, the acquisition of about 100 additional armoured vehicles was 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.
Mali has a number of new armoured vehicle types recently and displayed some of these at its 59th anniversary parade on 20 January. This included a Paramount Marauder armed with a 14.5 mm machinegun, Typhoons (including the 6×6 variant) and DongFeng EQ2050 Mengshi vehicles. The latter is a Chinese version of the US HMMWV. Mali’s acquisition of Marauders was first revealed in September 2019 when three were spotted during its Independence Day parade.
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.
The European Union has supplied other vehicles to Mali, notably 29 refurbished Casspirs, which were handed over in mid-July 2019 by Germany’s ambassador. They were acquired second hand under a German Ministry of Defence project.
Mali recently received other armoured vehicle types, having taken delivery of 24 Storm APCs from Qatar in December 2018. 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).
Mali’s new Cougars are also built on the Land Cruiser 79 series chassis, giving some driveline commonality with its other types. The vehicles can carry up to eight people. Some of those delivered to Mali last week were seen with turrets, but no weapons have yet been fitted.