European countries were major arms suppliers to Africa in 2013


European countries, especially those in the East, supplied a significant amount of military hardware to Africa last year, such as T-72 tanks, Su-25 combat jets and assault rifles, according to United Nations data.

The UN earlier this year published its annual Register of Conventional Arms for the calendar year 2013, compiled from reports from 34 governments around the world. While not a complete list of arms bought and sold around the globe, the Register does provide a substantial amount of information on arms sold to African countries.

One of Africa’s biggest suppliers last year was the Ukraine, which sold 20 T-72 main battle tanks, 20 BMP-1 armoured combat vehicles, five 2S1 Gvozdika 122 mm self-propelled guns and five D-30 howitzers to Sudan, which also received four Su-24Ms and three Mi-24Vs from Belarus.

Ethiopia received 29 T-72s and 10 000 submachineguns from the Ukraine as well as 12 MiG-23s from Bulgaria. These were airframes with zero hours left on them and, as they were dismantled and without armament, they will probably be used as a source of spare parts to keep Ethiopia’s other MiG-23s flying. Ethiopia further bolstered its Air Force with the delivery of 12 Soviet-era Mi-24s from Hungary.

Other Ukrainian exports recorded for 2013 include four BTR-3Es to Nigeria, two Su-25s to Niger and four Su-25s and 500 light machineguns to Chad while the Seychelles received a single Mi-24P attack helicopter.

Russia was another of Africa’s favoured weapons suppliers for 2013, exporting seven armoured vehicles to Libya, four ‘attack helicopters’ (probably Mi-171s) to Ghana and 120 launchers with 468 missiles to Egypt. Algeria received 101 Russian main battle tanks, ten armoured combat vehicles and four missile launchers. It is believed the tanks were T-90 models.

Algeria acquired a significant amount of military hardware in 2013 as it continues with the massive overhaul of its military. Some of its imports included 24 Fuchs vehicle kits from Germany, 60 73 mm HATGL recoilless rifles and 214 light machineguns from Bulgaria and eight air-to-surface missiles from South Africa. Algeria is apparently busy procuring another batch of T-90S tanks from Russia, which will bring its fleet to 305.

Chinese weapons also proved popular on the continent, with China supplying several new types of weapons to African customers for the first time. Tanzania received 24 main battle tanks and 12 ‘large calibre artillery systems’ from China, which are believed to be Type 07PA 120 mm self-propelled mortars, first seen in that country in April this year, together with Type 63A light amphibious tanks.

In May this year Cameroon was seen operating Type 07P infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and PTL-07 tank destroyers with 105 mm guns – in its submission to the United Nations, China said it had exported 11 armoured combat vehicles and 12 large calibre artillery systems to Cameroon. Other significant Chinese exports to Africa included 28 armoured combat vehicles to Ghana and 30 main battle tanks to Chad (believed to be Type 59s).

Elsewhere on the heavy weapons side, Bulgaria exported six D-30 152 mm howitzers to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 30 BM-21 122 mm multiple rocket launchers to Mali while the United Kingdom sold 40 FV430 vehicles to Mozambique, as well as 25 Saxon vehicles while Rwanda received a single FV430.

African nations bought tens of thousands of small arms in 2013, according to UN data, mostly in small batches. For instance, Bulgaria exported 860 light machineguns to the DRC and 300 handheld grenade launchers and delivered 50 73 mm HATGL recoilless rifles to Equatorial Guinea.

Egypt received a significant number of small arms, including 50 000 CZ 75 P-07 Duty pistols and 5 000 9 mm Scorpion submachineguns from the Czech Republic. Egypt also received a few grenade launchers from Serbia, and several hundred pistols and assault rifles from the United Kingdom.

Libya was another major small arms customer in 2013, receiving 15 000 pistols, 3 000 heavy machineguns, 11 000 light machineguns, 34 000 assault rifles and 8 600 underbarrel grenade launchers from Serbia. Turkey exported 4 504 pistols to Libya while the United Kingdom exported several dozen pistols and assault rifles to the North African country.

Malawi stocked up on small arms with 200 British sniper rifles, 50 60 mm M91 KUTINA mortars, 1 000 Romanian 7.62 mm rifles and 3 000 K2C rifles from South Korea.

Other significant small arms exports included 246 12.7 mm DShKM heavy machineguns delivered by Romania to Burkina Faso; 1 500 Serbian pistols to Nigeria; 2 270 Serbian light machineguns Nigeria; 3 100 light machineguns from Serbia to Mali; 100 Slovakian ZU-2 14.5 mm anti-aircraft cannons to Equatorial Guinea; 84 portable anti-tank guns from Serbia to the Congo; and 2 355 pistols to Burkina Faso from Turkey.

The United Kingdom sold thousands of small arms to Africa, for military, paramilitary and civil use, including 1 113 pistols/revolvers to South Africa; 1 350 rifles/carbines to Mauritius and 2 613 to South Africa and 2 950 assault rifles to Madagascar. Mauritius received 2 375 assault rifles, Tanzania 1 200 and South Africa 8 652.