Turkey has donated 12 Kirpi armoured personnel carriers and a 12 pickups to Somalia’s military as part of military and financial cooperation agreements.
The 12 Mitsubishi Triton pickups, with pintle mounts for machineguns, were handed over to Somalia’s military on 22 August and are destined for the Somali 3rd (Eagle) Infantry Battalion, trained by the Turkish government.
On 27 August Turkey delivered 12 Kirpi armoured personnel carriers, which were received by Somali Defence Minister Hassan Ali Mohamed and Somali Armed Forces commander General Odawa Yusuf Rageh at a ceremony held in the capital Mogadishu. Turkish Ambassador to Somalia Mehmet Yilmaz and other Somali government officials also attended the ceremony.
Mohamed said that the armoured personnel carriers will support Somalia’s military operations against al Shabab and will also be used by the Eagle battalion.
The Turkish Embassy in Somalia said the Kirpi is the first fully armoured vehicle to be owned by the Somali National Army.
The Kirpi (Hedgehog) is manufactured by Turkey’s BMC and is in service with the Turkish armed forces – it has also been supplied to Libya’s Government of National Accord and ordered by Tunisia. It is based on the Israeli Hatehof (Carmor) Navigator protected vehicle. Ten soldiers and three crew can be carried. A V-shaped hull provides protection against landmines, while the armoured hull provides ballistic protection to STANAG 4569 Level 3. According to BMC, the Kirpi has a top speed of 100 km/h, range of 800 km and is powered by a Cummins diesel engine delivering 375 horsepower. Gross weight is 19 tonnes.
Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Turkish engineers are helping build roads in Somalia, and Turkish officers have trained Somali soldiers as part of efforts to build up the country’s army. Turkey has trained around a third of Somalia’s military.
In September 2017, Turkey opened its biggest overseas military base in Somalia’s capital, cementing its ties with the volatile but strategic Muslim nation and building a presence in East Africa. At the time Turkey said more than 10 000 Somali soldiers would be trained by Turkish officers at the $50 million base.
Turkey is also providing Somalia with training support and equipment to establish the country’s navy and coastguard.
Somalia’s government has a number of foreign backers, including the United Nations, the African Union, and the United States, who are assisting it in building a functional national army capable of taking on the fight against the militant al Shabaab group.