AFRICANGLOBE – The Ghana Air Force has taken delivery of four new Mi-171Sh helicopters and a fully equipped logistics warehouse to be used for the maintenance of the aircraft.
The four helicopters were commissioned into service by President John Mahama at a ceremony held in Accra on Saturday.
They will be used to confront threats such as piracy, drug smuggling and oil bunkering and will also be used for VIP transport, search and rescue and training.
President Mahama said the acquisition of the helicopters was part of a wider programme of equipping the national defence force to enhance its capability to protect the airspace, land and territorial waters of Ghana.
He said the acquisition will also broaden the operational capabilities of Ghana’s Army and Air Force, enabling the two defence wings to handle internal assignments and external stabilisation and peacekeeping missions.
In September last year Russian state arms company Rosoboronexport announced that it had signed a contract to supply six Mi-17s to the Ghana Air Force. “We have signed a contract this year to sell six Mi-17s to Ghana,” said Rosoboronexport Deputy Director Alexander Mikheyev.
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 2012.
Ghana has a very small air force, with around 2,000 personnel. According to The Military Balance 2012, it has nine transport aircraft, including one Britten-Norman BN-2 Defender, three Cessna 172s, four Fokker F-27 Friendships and one Fokker F-28 Fellowship. The latter is used for VIP transport, which is one of the air force’s main duties.
In the way of combat aircraft, Ghana’s air force only has three single seat Aermacchi MB-326K ground attack aircraft. It also has two MB-339, two L-39ZO and four Hongdu K-8 Karakorum trainers.
Ghana’s air force has been undergoing expansion of late, receiving three Diamond DA 42 MPP Guardian surveillance and training aircraft from Austria and two C295 transports from Airbus Military. It is also scheduled to take delivery of an Embraer 190 from Brazil.