Nigerien Air Force Receives C-130 Hercules Aircraft
The United States government delivered a third C-130 Hercules airplane to the Nigerien Air Force in early January. The aircraft will support humanitarian operations and support the fight against extremist groups in the Sahel region.
During a handover ceremony at an air base in Niamey, Niger’s Minister of Defense Alkassoum Indatou said the donation demonstrated the strength of bilateral cooperation between Niger and the U.S.
“It is important to emphasize that the United States’ support for the C-130 project is more constructive as it covers all areas from management to operational implementation of this aircraft,” Indatou said in a report by overtdefense.com.
The U.S. delivered the first C-130 to Niger in January 2021. That airplane is used for humanitarian operations and troop and vehicle movements. The second C-130 was delivered in December 2021.
The U.S. also provides infrastructure development, maintenance training, consultants, aviation parts and other equipment.
Through the C-130 program, the U.S. has trained 16 Nigerien pilots, 19 maintenance personnel, six crew chiefs, five loadmasters and one flight engineer. The U.S. also renovated a C-130 hangar at an air base in Niamey and built a new C-130 hangar at an air base in Agadez, according to the overtdefense.com report.
Since 2015, the U.S. has invested more than $30 million to help develop the Nigerien Air Force’s C-130 program, including funds to buy spare parts, fuel and support equipment, according to a report by Military Africa.
“The partner’s support has enabled a remarkable reinforcement of the logistical and operational capacities of the Air Force,” Indatou said in a report by defenceWeb. “The latter still benefits from the expertise and support of American partners in the operation of the C-130 fleet.”
The third C-130 delivered to Niger is a former U.S. Air Force WC-130H that underwent a four-year overhaul by Sabena Aerospace in Belgium before it was delivered, according to a report by the Dutch Aviation Society’s Scramble magazine.
Susan N’Garnim, interim chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Niger, noted during the handover ceremony that the U.S. government’s C-130 project in Niger dates back 44 years. N’Garnim said in a report by defenceWeb that the U.S. will continue to support Niger’s “fight against terrorism and regional insecurity.”
The country is surrounded by unrest. An arms trafficking route runs from Niger’s northern border with Libya, goes west along the Algerian border and into the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. The Islamic State Greater Sahara and the al-Qaida-affiliated Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, known as JNIM, and other organizations operate in the region.
To the southeast, along Niger’s border with Nigeria in the Lake Chad region, Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province have caused widespread destruction.
“You have this situation where there’s a lot of instability surrounding Niger,” Maj. Andrew Caulk, spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, told Air & Space Force magazine. “Despite that, we’ve seen them doing just an extraordinary job of managing to keep those threats out of their country. For the most part, they are confined to the border regions.”