Cameroon’s military is apparently receiving a number of Ratel infantry fighting vehicles, which have been deployed with its Rapid Intervention Battalion.
This is according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, which quotes a Cameroonian military source saying that the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) is now operating Ratel 20s. Deliveries began in December 2015, according to the source, and the BIR now has 12 with its Light Intervention Units deployed to the Far North province, where the force is leading operations against Boko Haram militants.
IHS Jane’s reported that it had seen a photograph taken at the 1st BIR headquarters in Maroua showing four Ratel 20s armed with 20 mm guns.
The Ratel 20 is armed with a French GIAT 20-mm cannon in a two-man turret, plus three 7.62-mm machineguns, one coaxial one over the turret and one on a pintle mounting over a hatch in the rear hull roof. The 20-mm cannon has an effective range of 1 500 m and can engage light armoured vehicles.
IHS Jane’s said that additional deliveries are expected to Cameroon. These join around two dozen LAV-150 Commando infantry fighting vehicles, 30 AML-90s, six AMX-10RCs, a dozen Ferrets, eight M-8s and half a dozen VBLs.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) does not list the transfer in its Arms Transfers database, but this only goes up to 2014. Some of the equipment Cameroon’s armed forces have acquired in the last five years include five Type-07 armoured personnel carriers, six Type-07P/VN-1 infantry fighting vehicles, 12 WMA-301 Assault armoured fire support vehicles, four Z-9 helicopters and two P-108 patrol craft from China; a second hand OPV-54 patrol boat from France, two Mi-17 helicopters from Russia; two Aresa-3200 patrol craft and a single CN235 transport aircraft from Spain; and two Bell 412 helicopters from the United States.
South African’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) has yet to release its 2015 annual report listing arms exports, but 2014’s report contains no mention of Ratels being transferred to Cameroon.
Boko Haram, whoe origins are in northeastern Nigeria, has stepped up attacks in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger since last year. Many of the recent Cameroon attacks have been conducted by women.
Boko Haram has waged a six-year campaign for an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria. Neighbouring countries joined an offensive against the group this year and the conflict spilt across their borders, displacing tens of thousands of people.
Cameroon is also in an 8,700-strong regional Joint Multi-National Task Force (JMNTF) led by Nigeria against the militants, expected to be operational by the end of the year. The United States is sending military supplies and troops to the central African country to aid the fight. And in December donated 18 Toyota pickup trucks, a truck, a front-end loader and other equipment to Cameroon’s military.
In October Cameroon received six armoured personnel carriers from the United States. At least 300 US soldiers arrived in Cameroon in October to provide intelligence and training support to Cameroonian forces fighting Boko Haram.