Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has commissioned three Diamond DA 42 aircraft, two hangars, and two fast attack craft. The government is strengthening Ghana’s armed forces, which plan to take delivery of more helicopters, ships and aircraft in the near future.
The three DA 42 aircraft, two of which are used for surveillance and the third for training, were commissioned at Takoradi Air Force Base on October 19. The DA 42s were acquired in August last year and may be followed by another three. The two hangars, christened AVM Achilles Harry Kwame Dumashie Hangar (after a former Air Marshal) and AVM Richard Yawovi Ashley-Lassen Hangar (after the Major General), were built by China’s Poly Group.
Mahama said the government would acquire four new military helicopters by the end of the year. Last month Russian state arms company Rosoboronexport said that Ghana this year signed a contract for six Mi-17s, the first two of which will be delivered in a year’s time.
Mahama also commissioned two ex-German Navy Type 143A Gepard fast attack craft, GNS Yaa Asantewaa and GNS Naa Gbewaa, at Sekondi Naval Base. In July the vessels were handed over during a ceremony at Neue Tadewerft, Wilhelmshaven, Germany, where they were refurbished. They arrived in Ghana at the end of July.
Mahama said Ghana’s armed forces were currently being overhauled on an unprecedented scale. “I was appalled at the state of our forces when I received my first briefing by President Mills of blessed memory. Over the last four years, we have undertaken perhaps the largest re-equipping of the armed forces in the history of Ghana. The navy has received seven new vessels, two of which we are going to commission today. The air force has received two strategic lift aircraft, two surveillance aircraft and one trainer aircraft. They have received two new hangars and are due to receive four new helicopters by the end of the year.”
The transport aircraft Mahama referred to are two Airbus Military C295s, which were delivered in November 2011 and April 2012. Ghana’s air force is also scheduled to take delivery of an Embraer 190 from Brazil.
The DA 42s are used for maritime patrol, especially safeguarding Ghana’s offshore oil assets – the country becoming a major oil producer in the region after beginning production in December 2010. The Gulf of Guinea has seen a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on ships this year, prompting Ghana to modernise its navy to combat piracy, oil theft, illegal fishing and other threats.
In July last year Jane’s reported that Ghana’s Navy plans to acquire ten new vessels over the next two years and believes Ghana has ordered two 62 metre patrol craft from South Korea for delivery by July 2013. Ghana is also expanding its Naval Dockyard in the southwest of the country.