Niger Air Force receives AB 412 helicopters from Italy – Military Africa
The Niger Air Force has taken delivery of two of the four Agusta Bell AB 412 helicopters from Italy.
The two AB 412 helicopters (MM81452/GF-207, c/n 25707 and MM81456/GF-211, c/n 25713) were handed over during a ceremony at Air Base 101 in Niamey on October 18, in the presence of the Nigerien Defense Minister Alkassoum Indattou and his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini.
Italy and Niger have had bilateral defense and security relations since September 2017, with Italy providing military training to Nigerien troops.
The two Agusta Bell helicopters were delivered in the colors of the Italian Guardia di Finanza (GdiF), and were refurbished by the Agenzia Industrie Difesa (Defence Industries Agency) before being delivered to Niger. Both helicopters were delivered fitted with fairings above their cabins for the radars used to detect maritime smugglers.
The 412 helicopter is manufactured by Bell Helicopters and AgustaWestland under a license production agreement for civil and military markets in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Defense Minister Indattou said the delivery was the result of close ties between Italy and Niger, and the helicopters will be used to reinforce the Nigerien air force and carry out personnel transports, cargo and medical evacuation flights, and combating cross-border crime.
The utility helicopters will significantly boost the air capability of Niger’s special forces, particularly those of the 1st Niger Expeditionary Force (EFoN), the country’s premier counter-terrorism unit.
The lack of transport and attack helicopters in sufficient numbers seriously hampered the 1st Niger Expeditionary Force (EFoN). EFON has been fighting Violent Extremist Organizations (VEO) since the beginning of this decade.
The expeditionary force regularly carries out raids and patrols to dislodge ISIS from the area. However, due to limited helicopter support, the counter-terrorism force is not progressing as quickly as hoped.
The Nigerien Air Force has a few combat aircraft in its inventory, including three Gazelle helicopters from the former French Air Force, a Russian-built Mi-24 combat helicopter and two Mi transport helicopters. -17. Having a dedicated transport and attack helicopter support group will allow the EFON to cover distances the enemy cannot cover, as well as provide close air support to special forces elements.
EFON troops rely primarily on French helicopters and air support stationed in Mali.
The Bell 412 can climb at a speed of 6.86 m/s. The maximum and cruising speeds of the helicopter are 259 km/h and 226 km/h respectively. The autonomy is 745 km, extendable up to 980 km. The service ceiling is 6,096 m. The maximum autonomy of the helicopter is three and a half hours. The helicopter weighs approximately 2,920 kg and its maximum take-off weight is 5,398 kg.
The Italian government has deployed a bilateral mission in support of Niger to help increase the capacity of the defense forces and other members of the G5-Sahel Initiative to combat illegal trafficking, terrorism and other security threats In the region.
Niger has received or ordered a variety of military equipment over the past few years, in October it was supplied with several pieces of military equipment from Washington to support its fight against jihadists plaguing the west and southeast from the country.
The cargo consists mainly of vehicles, including 8 OTT Puma armored vehicles, 43 Toyota Land Cruiser trucks and other equipment worth 13 million dollars (8.5 billion CFA francs). The vehicles equipped the 11th Special Intervention Battalion (BSI).