Senegal’s armed forces have revealed the acquisition of new military hardware during the country’s independence day parade – the first to take place since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among the equipment paraded through the streets of the capital Dakar on 4 April were Chinese made WMA301 fire support vehicles and WZ-551 and CS/VN3C armoured personnel carriers (APCs).
The CS/VN3C – until now unseen in Senegalese service – was first unveiled by Norinco in 2014 as a lightweight wheeled armoured vehicle designed for rapid deployments and for emergency operations, with its main roles being reconnaissance, urban warfare, and troop transport. A welded steel armoured hull provides protection against small arms and artillery shell splinters but bolt-on armour can be added. The CS/VN3C can carry a total of seven: driver, gunner, commander, and four troops. The vehicle is fully amphibious after two minutes of preparation and is propelled on the water by two propellers mounted at the rear of the hull. Senegal’s vehicles are fitted with a one-person turret with a 30 mm cannon and a 7.62 mm machinegun.
In addition to the Army’s vehicles, Senegal’s National Gendermerie also had a significant presence at the 2023 independence day parade, displaying multiple armoured vehicles and other equipment, including Panhard PVP, Ejder Yalcin and Otokar Cobra II APCs. An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron was seen equipped with at least ten riot control multicopters fitted with public address (PA) systems and electro-optical sensors.
The Senegalese National Police, meanwhile, are operating US-made BATT UMG mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles.
Senegal’s Air Force also took part in the independence day celebrations, contributing CN235, C295 and King Air B200 aircraft. On 31 March Senegal received its second and final C295 from Airbus, eight months after receiving the first.
In addition to Islamist terror groups in the Sahel, Senegal has been dealing with separatists in its Casamance region, the location of one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. As a result, in recent times Senegal has been expanding its armed forces, receiving patrol boats, trainer aircraft, armoured vehicles and other equipment. France’s Piriou will soon deliver three OPV 58S patrol vessels and Nexter will supply eight LG1 105 mm howitzers.
In June last year, Senegal’s armed forces received 11 Puma M36 armoured personnel carriers from South Africa, as well as heavy machineguns, mortars, recovery vehicles, assault rifles, riot shields, a dozen Toyota Land Cruisers equipped with pintle-mounted heavy machineguns, combat ambulances, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and riot helmets.
In addition to separatists in the Casamance, Senegal has been grappling with violent clashes between security forces and opposition supporters over alleged corruption, the high cost of living, and legal proceedings against opposition figure Ousmane Sonko.