Turkey has donated another eight Kirpi armoured personnel carriers to Somalia along with 14 Aktan military trucks.
The vehicles were handed over to the Somali National Army in mid-August, the Turkish embassy announced, and received by General Odowaa Yusuf Rage, head of the Somali National Armed Forces.
The vehicles will be used by Somalia’s elite Gorgor Commandos in the fight against al-Shabaab.
At the same time as the vehicle delivery, Turkey announced that the 15th batch of the Haramcad Special Police Forces completed their training at the TURKSOM Military Training Centre. Haramcad forces are trained by Turkey’s Police Special Forces trainers.
Turkey donated 12 Kirpi APCs to Somalia in August 2020, along with 12 Mitsubishi Triton pickup trucks, fitted with pintle mounts for machineguns.
The Turkish Embassy in Somalia said at the time that the Kirpi is the first fully armoured vehicle to be owned by the Somali National Army.
The Kirpi (Hedgehog) is manufactured by Turkey’s BMC and is in service with the Turkish armed forces – it has also been supplied to Libya’s Government of National Accord and ordered by Tunisia. It is based on the Israeli Hatehof (Carmor) Navigator protected vehicle. Ten soldiers and three crew can be carried. A V-shaped hull provides protection against landmines, while the armoured hull provides ballistic protection to STANAG 4569 Level 3. According to BMC, the Kirpi has a top speed of 100 km/h, range of 800 km and is powered by a Cummins diesel engine delivering 375 horsepower. Gross weight is 19 tonnes.
Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Turkish engineers are helping build roads in Somalia, and Turkish officers have trained Somali soldiers as part of efforts to build up the country’s army. Turkey has trained around a third of Somalia’s military.
In September 2017, Turkey opened its biggest overseas military base in Somalia’s capital, cementing its ties with the volatile but strategic Muslim nation and building a presence in East Africa. At the time Turkey said more than 10 000 Somali soldiers would be trained by Turkish officers at the $50 million base.
Turkey is also providing Somalia with training support and equipment to establish the country’s navy and coast guard.