Imagery Confirms Niger’s New Cessna 208 Caravan

DG (04NOV15) Nigerien Air Force’s Base Aérienne 101 in Niamey

DG (04NOV15) Nigerien Air Force’s Base Aérienne 101 in Niamey

The latest commercial satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe confirms the arrival of two Cessna-208 Caravan to Nigerien Air Force’s Base Aérienne 101 in Niamey. In October 2015, it was reported that the U.S. Ambassador presented the two Caravan along with $36 million worth of additional equipment and training. The U.S. Embassy in Niger notes the aircraft are equipped for the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission.

Niger Minister of Defense (21OCT15) Cessna 208

Niger Minister of Defense Giving Remarks During Delivery Ceremony (Credit: U.S. Embassy Niamey)

Along with the Caravan, imagery shows what appears to be a new hangar under construction. [1] The new construction activity may suggest that the aircraft will be based in Niamey. A total of three Caravan are visible in imagery acquired in November 2015. Niger previously received two Caravan with FY 2012 Section 1206 Funding which included expenses like maintenance and pilot training. [2]

In relation to recent funding, the Federal Business Opportunities portal in July announced that the U.S. Air Force was soliciting contractors to provide Multi-Engine Land and Instrument Rating Pilot Training for the country’s air arm. The 3 month period of performance will take place during 01NOV15 and 31MAR16. Like previous training, it’s expected to occur in the continental U.S..

In addition to the aircraft, the U.S. also donated 40 military vehicles (Toyota Land Cruisers, ambulances, and cargo trucks), 250 uniforms, personal protection equipment, and radios to the 24th Battalion Interarmée based at Dirkou in northeast Niger as a part of a second project. Official sources had few additional details.

Left: DigitalGlobe imagery dated 04 Nov 2015 / Right: DigitalGlobe imagery dated 22 Dec 2014

Lastly, space snapshots from 2015 continue to show the expansion of the airport. New aircraft support shelters, additional leveling and the construction of aircraft hardstands were noted. Two additional fuel bladders were also added north of U.S. and French deployments. The additional fuel bladders were in place by August, the same time the Defense Logistics Agency requested fuel be prepositioned at Zinder airport, a location less than 100 miles from the Nigerian border. [3]

[1] The hangar measures approximately 22 x 50 meters.
[2] “Section 1206: Niger Air Logistics and Communications Enhancement($11.75M). Niger will receive two short takeoff and landing (STOL) Cessna 208 aircraft and radios to support liaison and sustainment missions to remote outposts along the Niger-Mali border. They will also be used to communicate with forces on the ground and to identify and target AQIM forces. With the collapse of Malian control over the north, this program is a particularly important means of countering the significantly increased threat along the border.” — “Department of Defense Section 1209 of the NDAA for FY 2008 (Public Law 110-181) Report to Congress On Foreign-Assistance Related Programs for Fiscal Year 2012“, May 2013, p. 9,45.
[3] It’s no surprise with the ongoing expansions, Niger continues to see more military aid from the U.S. which was up to $40,821,954, almost $4 million from 2014’s figures. In 2011, the U.S. provided $11.7 million.

This entry was posted in English, Intelligence, Niger.

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