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9 mars 2015 1 09 /03 /mars /2015 17:45
US-led exercise in Chad prepares troops to fight terror

A Chadian platoon practices dismounting during mounted operations during Exercise Flintlock '15 at Moussoro, Chad on 19 February 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Martin)

 

9 March 2015 By Thomas Fessy - BBC Africa

 

Troops from Chad are leading the fight against the militant Islamists of Boko Haram in West Africa. Their troops are being trained to fight terror in an exercise deep in the desert.

 

Down at the firing range, it is the Chadians' turn. American special forces are training them on the machine gun. Chadian soldiers queue to lie down on a piece of cardboard, load the weapon and aim at a target around 150 metres away. Occasionally we hear the "ding" from a bullet hitting the metallic target. But what makes the soldiers cheer is when one of their comrades holds the trigger down, shooting several rounds at once from the automatic weapon. This shooting session is taking place in western Chad, in a section of the Sahel region that skirts the southern edges of the Sahara Desert. It is part of Operation Flintlock, an annual counter-terrorism exercise led by the United States and held with their Nato allies in West Africa. This tenth edition is particularly timely. These drills are taking place against the backdrop of a region preparing to take on Boko Haram in Nigeria. In fact, these Chadian troops may be going straight back into battle as soon as their training is over.

 

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30 septembre 2014 2 30 /09 /septembre /2014 18:45
US to supply Caravan aircraft to Mauritania, Niger and Kenya

 

30 September 2014 by Oscar Nkala/defenceWeb

 

The US military has awarded Cessna a contract to provide 208B Grand Caravan EX aircraft to Niger, Kenya and Mauritania in support of counter-terrorism operations.

 

The $13.67 million contract for the three aircraft was awarded on September 19 by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Centre at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The contract also provides for aircrew training devices and spares, including a spare aircraft engine and training to the US Africa Command area of responsibility in support of the three countries.

 

The aircraft will be deployed to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in support of the new expanded US counter-terrorism effort which relies on the provision of advanced military equipment and intelligence gathering capabilities to key partner nations in the Africa Command Area of Responsibility.

 

According to the Federal Business Opportunities register, the contract was awarded under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. Work is expected to conclude by September 30, 2015. Funding for the acquisition is being provided through Section 1206 of the US National Defence Authorisation Act 2006. With subsequent amendments extending its scope, this provides the US Secretary of Defence with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes —counterterrorism and stability operations — and foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations. Section 1206 authority now extends through to FY2017.

 

In a related development, the US Army on September 18 contracted L-3 Communications Systems to upgrade intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the three aircraft prior to delivery.

 

"L-3 Communications Systems West in Salt Lake City, UT receives an unfinalised $31.2 million firm-fixed-price undefinitised contract to add intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to three Cessna 208B aircraft for the countries of Niger, Kenya and Mauritania, and provide spares and training. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 partnership capacity budgets," reads part of the contract award notice.

 

Work will be carried out at L-3’s facilities in Salt Lake City and Titusville and will be completed by September 30, 2015. Fiscal Year 2014 building partnership capacity funds are being used to finance the project.

 

The US has been working closely with both Mauritania and Niger in regional counter-terrorism efforts and has previously donated Cessna Caravans for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations on suspected terrorist hide-outs and training camps across the Sahel.

 

The Niger Air Force flies two Cessna 208Bs delivered in July 2013. However, these are configured for transport tasks. They were donated by the US along with ten Toyota trucks for border security and cargo operations.

 

In June this year the US government donated two new Caravans to the Mauritania Islamic Air Force (FAIM) to boost its capacity to conduct patrols to counter maritime crimes and regional terrorist groups.

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16 juillet 2014 3 16 /07 /juillet /2014 11:45
France sets up anti-Islamist force in Africa's Sahel

 

14 July 2014 BBC Africa

 

France is to set up a new military operation in the Sahel region of northern Africa in an effort to stop the emergence of jihadist groups.

 

About 3,000 French soldiers will be deployed, along with troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad. On Monday France ended its military deployment in Mali, set up 18 months ago after an Islamist insurgency there. French forces helped the Malian government recapture the north from al-Qaeda-linked militants last year.

 

Counter-terrorism

 

The new long-term force, named Operation Barkhane, will be based in the Chadian capital Ndjamena, but will have a mandate to operate across borders. It will target Islamist extremists in Mali, Chad and Niger. The French troops will be backed by six fighter jets, 20 helicopters and three drones. The main objective of Operation Barkhane is counter-terrorism, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said. The new deployment will take place in the coming days. The Sahel includes some of the world's poorest countries but has rich natural resources in the form of minerals and gas. France sent troops to Mali in January 2013 after Islamist militants threatened to overrun the capital, Bamako. But Mr Le Drian said Islamist groups posed a threat to the entire region.

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25 juin 2014 3 25 /06 /juin /2014 17:45
BT-67 Source France 24

BT-67 Source France 24

 

June 25, 2014: Strategy Page

 

In the African nation of Mauritania the air force recently modified one of its BT-67 aircraft by adding a surveillance turret. This was installed under the fuselage and contains a vidcom with electronic zoom that can watch all that happens down below, record it all and, if monitored by an operator, zoom in on anything of interest. The U.S. State Department has at least one BT-67 in its small “air force” that is equipped with a similar turret that contains a FLIR (heat sensing radar). Other BT-67s have been equipped for maritime patrol and electronic surveillance.

 

What’s really interesting about all this is that the BT-67 is actually a C-47 (“Dakota”) transport that entered service during World War II. The C-47 was actually a militarized 1930s design and that was heavily used during World War II and continued in use ever since as the DC-3, BT-47, Dakota and several other names. Obviously this longevity involved a lot of upgrades and refurbishment.

 

Some aircraft seem to fly forever. A prime example has been the DC-3/C-47. The latest revival for this iconic plane is a refurb that creates a 13 ton aircraft with a rebuilt and lengthened fuselage, upgraded wings, new engines, and modern electronics. Called the BT-67, 58 have been produced and they are in use by eight civilian (including the U.S. Forestry Service) organizations and nine air forces (including the U.S. Air Force and the Chinese Air Force). The BT-67 is about a meter (three feet) longer than the original DC-3 and 1.5 tons heavier. Cruising speed is 380 kilometers an hour, compared to 240 for the DC-3. Range is more than twice the 1,600 kilometers of the DC-3. Typical load for the BT-67 (4 tons) is also about twice what the DC-3 would normally haul. The longer range made the rugged BT-67 capable of delivering airfreight to research stations in Antarctica, from an airport in South Africa. The BT-67s cost about $5 million each.

 

But there are other refurbs. Back in 2004 Colombia paid about $20 million to convert five C-47 transports to gunships (armed with night vision sensors, a three barrel 12.7mm/.50 caliber machine-gun, and some bombs). These aircraft carried a five man crew. Such gunships first appeared, using World War II era C-47 transports, in the 1960s over Vietnam. The troops called the gunships, which liked to operate at night, "Spooky."

 

Many DC-3/C-47 aircraft continue to fly. Several hundred are still operating worldwide, mostly owned by small domestic carriers in the U.S. and by some Third World air transport companies. A state of the art aircraft in the mid-1930s (when only 500 were built), over 16,000 DC 3's were produced for use during World War II as C-47s. The DC-3 was, in fact, one of the most widely manufactured aircraft of the war. When allied paratroopers jumped it was usually from a DC-3 (which could carry 28 troops but over sixty people were squeezed in during emergencies). With a maximum range of 3,400 kilometers and a top speed of 296 kilometers per hour, the C-47 was the common cargo carrier (up to 3.5 tons) and general purpose "flying truck." It still is, and more and more of these aircraft are being rebuilt, like the BT-67, to keep them flying for another decade or so.

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12 juin 2014 4 12 /06 /juin /2014 12:45
Mauritanian Navy OPVs under construction

 

11 June 2014 by Oscar Nkala - defenceWeb

 

The Mauritanian Navy has unveiled a five-year naval forces development plan which includes the acquisition of two 60 metre offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and an undisclosed number of mid-sized vessels to secure the country's 754km long Atlantic Ocean coastline.

 

According to IHS Jane’s, the government also wants to set up three new marine forces companies as the country moves to tighten its maritime boundaries and conduct effective patrols within the 235 000 square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

 

Unveiling the plan during a naval ceremony which at the Nouadhibou naval base, Marines Mauritanie Commander Admiral Isselkou Ould Cheik el-Weli said the two OPVs were already under construction. However, he did not disclose which company or country was contracted to build the vessels.

 

The navy is seeking to boost its patrol fleet from an estimated 10 patrol and coastal craft which include the flag-ship “Liman el Hadrami” P-601, a Huang Class offshore patrol vessel donated by the Chinese government in 2008.

 

The small navy’s limited air support capacity has been boosted by the donation of two Airbus Military C212-200 maritime patrol aircraft, suited for search and rescue (SAR) missions, by the Spanish government between 2008 and 2011.

 

Marines Mauritanie operates from two bases - one in the capital Nouakchott and another in the coastal town of Nouadhibou. It currently employs up to 650 seamen including a naval infantry division and is set to benefit from the formation of three new marine corps companies.

 

The navy is struggling with a host of maritime crimes which include swells of rickety, overloaded boats transporting African illegal immigrants through its maritime domain en route to Spain.

 

Because of its porous land and sea borders, Mauritania also faces serious problems of trans-Atlantic drug trafficking, arms trafficking and goods smuggling by organised crime syndicates, some with alleged links to the financing of terrorist militias in North and North-West Africa.

 

Of late, the Marines Mauritanie has benefitted from US-led international naval security training partnerships such as the annual Saharan Express exercise in which regional naval forces are trained in counter-narcotics trafficking and counter-proliferation operations.

 

In February this year, marines from the Italian-based Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa trained the Mauritanian naval infantry's “Fusiliers Marins” group on basic infantry skills, marksmanship and small boat operations, basic patrol skills, first aid, medical training as well as mission planning for leadership.

 

Apart from Saharan Express, which seeks to develop and strengthen the capabilities of African navies in controlling their territorial waters, Mauritania also participates in other regional US Army-run programmes which include Exercise Flintlock and Exercise Obangame Express.

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24 juin 2013 1 24 /06 /juin /2013 16:45
AW109 - photo AgustaWestland

AW109 - photo AgustaWestland

24 June 2013 by defenceWeb

 

The Mauritanian Air Force has ordered two AW109 helicopters and the Senegalese Air Force a single AW139 from AgustaWestland, the company has announced.

 

The contract with Mauritania was signed on June 17 at the Paris Air Show during a ceremony attended by Colonel Hereitani of the Mauritanian Air Force and Geoff Hoon, AgustaWestland’s Managing Director of International Business.

 

AgustaWestland said the twin-engined AW109 Power helicopters would be used for border patrol and reconnaissance missions, and would be delivered in mid-2014 in a multi-role homeland security configuration.

 

The contract also includes a comprehensive training and support package that will be delivered both in Italy and on-site to ensure a quick and effective entry into operational service for the aircraft, AgustaWestland added.

 

Mauritania’s Air Force only flies two other helicopters – Chinese Harbin Z-9As delivered in 2003, according to the Jane’s Information Group.

 

The Mauritanian Air Force has been growing in recent times, especially in response to Islamic terrorist organisations operating in the region. Four Embraer EMB-312F Tucanos were received from France in 2010 and 2011, while the nation began taking delivery of new Super Tucanos in October 2012.

AW139M - photo AgustaWestland

AW139M - photo AgustaWestland

Also at the Paris Air Show, AgustaWestland announced that it had signed a contract for a single AW139 medium helicopter, which will be operated by the Senegal Air Force. It will most likely be used for VIP transport.

 

The contract marks the entrance of AgustaWestland helicopters in the regional market, the company said, and includes in-country support services and training for both aircrew and maintainers.

 

Senegal is also expanding its air force, with the country recently ordering three A-29 Super Tucanos from Embraer. The contract was signed on April 10 this year.

 

The AW109 Power variant, which can be flown by a single pilot, features a digital glass cockpit with six liquid crystal instrument displays providing the aircrew with flight, systems and mission data. It can cruise at a maximum speed of 285 km/h. Nearly 480 AW109s are in service in around 50 countries, with almost one third of these being operated by government customers.

 

The AW109’s larger sibling, the AW139, can cruise at 306 km/h over nearly a thousand kilometres. Around 720 have been sold in almost 60 countries to over 200 customers for many roles including VIP/corporate transport, passenger transport, law enforcement, fire fighting, offshore transport, search and rescue, emergency medical services, disaster relief and maritime patrol.

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5 juin 2013 3 05 /06 /juin /2013 17:45
U.S. transfers suspected senior al Qaeda member to Mauritania

03 June 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

U.S. authorities have transferred Younis al-Mauritani, a suspected senior member of al Qaeda previously held in Afghanistan, to Mauritania, officials in the West African nation said.

 

Pakistan said in September 2011 it arrested al-Mauritani, better known in his homeland Mauritania as Youssouf Al Mauritani, during a joint operation with U.S. intelligence services.

 

Witnesses at the airport in Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott, saw a U.S. military plane deliver a prisoner late on Friday, Reuters reports.

 

Mauritanian authorities confirmed al-Mauritani's identity, adding that he had been transferred from the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

 

"It's indeed Youssouf Al Mauritani, real name Abderhamane Ould Mohamed Al-Hussein," a senior security official told Reuters, asking not to be named.

 

"He was in Bagram and was handed over to the Mauritanian authorities by the Americans. He indeed arrived at the Nouakchott airport last night," he said.

 

A Mauritanian judicial official specialized in terrorism cases also confirmed that the prisoner transferred on Friday was al-Mauritani. U.S. embassy officials in Nouakchott declined to comment.

 

Pakistani military authorities said Al Mauritani was planning to attack U.S. economic interests including pipelines, hydro-electric dams and oil tankers when he was captured.

 

They said he had also been tasked by Osama bin Laden with hitting European and Australian targets.

 

Mauritanian authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest, accusing him of participating in a 2005 attack on the Lemgheity army base which killed 17 soldiers and a deadly shoot-out with police in Nouakchott in 2008.

 

Mauritania, with one of West Africa's more effective armies, carried out military strikes against Islamist bases in neighboring Mali in 2010 and 2011 and is seen as one of the West's principal allies against al Qaeda in the region.

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