Saturday, 3 December 2011

Ghana Air Forces seeks to buy Mi-171s transport helicopters

 altThe Ghana Air Force is looking to acquire four Mi-171Sh transport helicopters and says it will soon take delivery of four other helicopters from China. The service has bought five new aircraft over the last several months, including fixed wing transports and surveillance aircraft.

On November 17 the government put before parliament a proposal to acquire four Mi-171Sh helicopters for the Air Force, worth an estimated €64 365 584. Of that amount, €40.25 million may come from a Fidelity Bank Limited loan.

At present Ghana’s air force only has four Mi-171V, one AB-212, two A109A and two SA319 Alouette III helicopters in service, according to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2011.

It is not yet clear whether Ghana will receive approval to acquire the Mi-171s, as the Chinese government will supply four helicopters to the West African country. It is not yet clear what models China will supply.

China’s defence minister Lieutenant General Lian Guanlee recently led a 21 member delegation to Ghana, the first time such a high ranking official has visited the country since the two established diplomatic ties.

During Guanlee’s visit, China agreed to supply four helicopters to provide surveillance and security for Ghana’s oilfields, Ghanaian media reported last Friday.

Ghana’s defence minister Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith said that China will provide a 20 million Yuan grant to buy military equipment of Ghana’s choice.

Vice President John Dramani Mahma said that, “This will be complimentary to the recent provision of patrol boats to the Ghana navy, which would help in all the peacekeeping programmes the country’s security has been undertaking.”

“Ghana has been engaged in many peacekeeping missions and China has been very supportive in that direction, which is raising our national image,” he added.

In August it was announced that the Ghana Air Force had ordered two Airbus Miltiary C295 transports as well as an Embraer 190 jet and two Diamond DA 42 surveillance aircraft. The acquisition of the Embraer 190 from Brazil, together with logistic support and the construction of a hangar, will cost the West African nation about US$105.3 million.

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