The United States has donated ten trucks to the Nigerien Armed Forces (FAN) in support of the G5 Sahel Joint Force combatting terrorism in the region.
The ten Mercedes Atego trucks were handed over on 27 May by US Ambassador Eric Whitaker at the Direction Centrale du Matériel. The ten trucks, worth some $1 million, can transport up to fifteen soldiers through the roughest terrain, the US Embassy said.
Also handed over was a logistics warehouse valued at $430 000. It will provide 300 square meters of safe storage for valuable spare parts for the FAN’s vehicles, including the sixty Mamba armoured vehicles that the United States provided for Niger’s units in the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
Niger’s Minister of National Defence, Issoufou Katambé, and senior military officials were on hand to accept the donation, which the US Embassy said will enhance the FAN’s operational readiness and help further its mission to maintain peace and stability in Niger and the Sahel region.
The US military previously said its assistance to the G5 Sahel Joint Force is just one component of the larger and longer-term security sector support the US provides to Niger. In addition to the Mamba and Atego vehicles, in 2019 the United States supplied a $16.5 million command and control centre, which was handed over to the Nigerien Armed Forces in February. The node comprises a new building, two deployable tactical operations centres, specialised communications equipment and radios.
Between 2013 and 2015 delivered four Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft to Niger, with two configured for surveillance. In March this year, the US Embassy revealed that these Caravans had reached 10 000 flight hours without incident.
“Niger’s Cessna program, which began in 2013 with the US donation of two casualty evacuation aircraft and two designed for conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, is a flagship of both the United States’ total package approach to security cooperation and Niger’s commitment, willingness, and strength as a security partner,” the Embassy said. Since 2013, the United States has provided more than $45 million in spare parts, training, advisors, and infrastructure to support this programme.
Niger will soon be getting two second hand C-130s from the United States, with pilots currently training there. The US also supplied a hangar.
In addition to supplying equipment, the United States launches intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) flights from Air Base 201 outside Agadez. Construction began around 2015, with ISR flights beginning from November 2019. Air Base 201 is believed to host armed and unarmed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles.