Angola buys helicopters, patrol boats, radars


Angola has bought six helicopters, two patrol boats and radar systems from Italy in order to improve its maritime surveillance capabilities.

On 23 December, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos signed several contracts with Finmeccanica for the equipment, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa. This will be used to support a national and three regional maritime surveillance centres.

Selex ES, part of Finmeccanica, will be lead contractor for the project, installing radar stations and communications systems along the Angolan coast. This portion of the contract is said to be worth 115 million euros.

Another contract, worth around 7.3 million euros, is for two fast patrol craft built by Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei, also part of Finmeccanica. The contract includes training.

A third contract is for six AgustaWestland (now Finmeccanica Helicopters) helicopters. In October last year Lusa reported that Angola will spend around 90 million euros for the helicopter acquisition. They will apparently be delivered to the Angolan Navy in 2017.

These and other deals between Finmeccanica and Italy were hinted at in July when dos Santos undertook a day visit to Italy, which included a meeting with Finmeccanica’s managing director.

Although Angolan defence spending has risen dramatically in recent years, and was last year estimated to go from $6.5 billion to $13 billion by 2019, the sudden drop in oil prices appears to have affected the country’s defence procurement plans as Angola relies on oil for half of its GDP.

The oil price drop may affect the purchase of seven Macae class vessels from Brazil, with Brazilian media in May last year reporting that Angola does not have the money to pay for them. They were procured in 2014 as part of Angola’s Naval Power Development Programme (Pronaval).

In order to protect Angola’s 1 600 km long coastline, the Angolan Navy is undergoing modernisation but is still lacking in many ways. At the moment Angola’s Navy is relatively small, with around a thousand personnel, and its vessels includes four Mandume class fast attack craft, five ARESA PVC-170 and three Patrulheiro patrol boats.