France donates military equipment to Cameroon


France has donated 15 vehicles, weapons and equipment to Cameroon’s Special Forces as part of assistance to combat Boko Haram militants.

The vehicles, which included ten Peugeot P4 all-terrain vehicles, three ACMAT VLRA tactical trucks and two Renault TRM 2000 light trucks, were handed over on 29 November to Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo by French Ambassador Gilles Thibault.

A statement issued on the occasion noted the vehicles were accompanied by ‘precision rifles’, helmets and bullet proof vests and the total donation is valued at 430 million CFA (655 000 euros).
“This material support is one of the concrete manifestations of the strengthening of France’s solidarity with Cameroon in its fight against Boko Haram as it was announced by President François Hollande during his visit in Yaoundé on July 3rd 2015,” the statement added.

The transfer is the second this year after France and Cameroon signed a bilateral defence partnership agreement in May 2009. France has supplied mine clearance equipment and intelligence to Cameroon, which is struggling with Boko Haram insurgents in its far north region.

In addition to France, other nations have been contributing to Cameroon’s efforts to fight Boko Haram. In October 2014 Germany donated 60 Mercedes Wolf vehicles and 60 Unimog trucks to support the country’s fight against Boko Haram, for example.

At the beginning of this year Cameroon received the first two of six refurbished Mi-24 attack helicopters from Russia for its Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), and in December 2015 the United States donated 18 Toyota pickup trucks, a truck, a front-end loader and other equipment to Cameroon’s military.

In early 2015 Cameroon joined Nigeria, Niger and Chad in contributing troops to the Joint Multi-National Task Force (JMNTF), a Lake Chad Basin regional military force to fight Boko Haram.

The BIR is now equipped with Ratel 20 infantry fighting vehicles. Deliveries began in December 2015, with at least a dozen delivered. The Ratels 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.

Cameroon is also due to receive Oskhsoh Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) from the United States, which last year ordered 15 Acmat Bastion armoured vehicles from France for the country. The US has also pledged a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as a single Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

In March it emerged that Cameroon is operating Israeli Saymar Musketeer armoured vehicles, mainly for presidential protection.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Cameroon has taken delivery of a variety of new hardware over the last five years, including five Type-07 armoured personnel carriers, six Type-07P/VN-1 infantry fighting vehicles, four Z-9 helicopters and two P-108 patrol craft from China, a single OPV-54 patrol craft from France, two Aresa-3200 patrol craft and one CN235 transport aircraft from Spain and two Bell 412 helicopters from the United States.