Botswana seeking raft of new military hardware


Following on reports of Botswana in discussions with Sweden over the purchase of eight Gripen C/D fighter jets, it has emerged that the southern African country is seeking to acquire armoured vehicles and air defence systems as well.

According to Botswana’s The Sunday Standard, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is planning to buy K2 Black Panther tanks from South Korea. On 16 May the newspaper said that Botswana was on the cusp of spending 2 billion Pula on 45 General Dynamics Piranha 8×8 armoured vehicles armed with 30 mm cannon turrets. The BDF already has 45 Piranha IIIs in service, which were delivered in 2003.

The Sunday Standard reported in February that Botswana was in talks with MBDA over the acquisition of Mistral and VL Mica air defence systems for a combined 5 billion Pula. “BDF commander Lt Gen Galebotswe accompanied by Lt Col Mokgadi and Lt Col Motlaleng were in France last December for a demonstration of the missile systems. The systems are to be delivered in 2017,” the newspaper said.

It added that over a billion Pula will be spent on a military college in Paje, through an Economic Stimulus Package.

On 13 May Sweden’s defence materiel agency (FMV) said it was in talks with Botswana on the acquisition of Gripens, with Linda Bengtsson, acting press officer at the FMV saying that “I can confirm that we have initiated a dialogue and that these are regarding, approximately, eight C/D version aircraft.”

The BDF has also expressed interest in the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer. A Korean delegation met Botswanan defence minister Ramadeluka Seretse and other BDF officials in November to discuss the T-50 and FA-50 models in November 2013, with talk of Botswana acquiring 16 T-50s.

In October 2015, President Ian Khama visited South Korea and a KAI headquarters. Apparently, Botswana will decide later this year which new combat aircraft it will be buying.

Botswana has not acquired much military hardware in the last ten years, with the most recent acquisitions being, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), five PC-7 Mk II trainers in 2013, two CN235s in 2009-2010 and a single Do 328 aircraft in 2009.

According to SIPRI data, a single C-130B was acquired in 2001, 20 SK-105 Kurassiers lights tanks were delivered in 2000 along with two 4K-7FA armoured personnel carriers, five F-5A fighters were received by 2000, 37 VBL armoured vehicles were delivered in 2002/3 and four AS350/AS550 Fennecs were delivered between 2000 and 2003.