The Ghana Air Force has received its second and final Airbus Military C-295 transport aircraft. The first C-295 was delivered in November last year as part of the Air Force’s modernisation drive, which will also see it gain four Mi-17 helicopters in the coming months.
Ghana’s second C-295 was seen landing in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands on April 24, and arrived in Ghana the following day. It is based in the capital Accra while the first is based in Tamale.
In the future, Ghana plans to base two C-295s in each city as part of their long-term vision for an expanded fleet, but as it currently stands, Ghana has only ordered two C-295s, according to Airbus.
Ghana’s Vice President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated the new aircraft at the Accra Air Force Base on Monday. “The CASA C-295 aircraft, with its famed robustness, will, therefore, come in handy to undertake tasks across a large spectrum of air operations, from the low to the high ends; that is, from combat support to humanitarian roles,” he said.
Ghana’s defence minister Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith said the aircraft had arrived at the right time to help improve Ghana’s socio-economic development and further the country’s security agenda.
Mahama, during the C-295 commissioning, said that the government would deliver four new aircraft to the Ghana Air Force by the end of July this year. “Probably in the next few months, hopefully by July, [we] should take delivery of another four Mi-17 helicopters. The Army has received some armoured personnel carriers and trucks and government is in the process of securing more APC’s and armoured personnel carriers and tanks for the army,” Mahama said.
At present Ghana’s air force only has four Mi-171V helicopters, one AB-212, two A109As and two SA319 Alouette IIIs in service, according to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2012.
On November 18 last year Airbus Military announced the delivery of the first C-295. Rafael Tentor, Airbus Military Head of Programmes, said that, “We are very proud to add the Ghana Air Force to our family of C-295 operators. The C-295, which has proven the best solution for medium sized transport, will allow missions in remote and difficult to access areas. We look forward to the entry into service of this versatile aircraft in the Ghana Air Force.”
Ghana was originally interested in acquiring the C-27J Spartan from Alenia Aeronautica and requested four C-27Js in September 2009, but this was never followed through. The contract for the two C-295s was announced on August 4, 2011.
Smith earlier said the C-295 would enable the Air Force to move troops and other security agencies across the country and within the West African sub-region. The aircraft will also be used for medical evacuation, paratrooping, training and humanitarian operations, including assistance to organizations such as National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the peace mission of the United Nations.
In August last year Ghana also ordered 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.
The Diamond DA 42 MPP (Multi-Purpose Platform) Guardian surveillance and training aircraft, fitted with a sensor turret for surveillance missions, are being funded through a €11.750 million loan from the Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited. The aircraft were spotted in the United Kingdom last month and are believed to have been recently delivered to Takoradi Air Force Base.
Plans for Ghana’s recent acquisitions were revealed in December 2009 when Mahama indicated that re-equipment was an increasingly important priority, with plans for four turboprop transports and six Diamond DA42MPPs.
The DA 42s will be 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. In addition to new aircraft, Mahama said Ghana’s Navy has received five new vessels, with two more expected before the end of the year from Germany.
Ghana has a very small air force, with around 2000 personnel. According to The Military Balance 2011, 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.
The C-295 is a twin turboprop multirole transport aircraft manufactured by Airbus Military in Spain. It is capable of accommodating 71 troops, 50 paratroops or five standard cargo pallets (payload is 9 200 kg).