Africa should model the acquisition of offshore patrol vessels (OPV) as well as long-range (LR) maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) on the NATO acquisition of the Boeing E3 Sentry.
That`s the view of South Africa`s premier defence analyst, Helmoed-Römer Heitman.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation collectively acquired 18 of the Airborne Warning and Control Systems (Awacs) aircraft in the 1980s to provide the alliance as a whole with the capability.
Speaking at last week`s 3rd Sea Power for Africa Symposium Heitman said hardly any African country can afford such platforms on its own.
“Long range aircraft are expensive and need proper airfields. If at regional SADC [Southern African Development Community] or ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] level one could pool a few LR aircraft, then you start getting the reach for the distant parts of the EEZ [exclusive economic zone] and for SAR [search-and-rescue].
Heitman also urged Africa to exchange the incremental for the ambitious in securing the seas.
“Don`t be incremental. If you do stuff in teeny-weeny increments, nothing gets done. Rather be ambitious.”
The outspoken analyst made a similar call at last year`s SA Army Armour Symposium, arguing against equipment acquisitions in “sample quantities”.