U.S. AIR FORCES IN EUROPE-AIR FORCES AFRICA
Nations are working to develop an air transport sharing mechanism (ATSM) to improve Africa’s airlift capability, leaders said after a conference in Botswana, co-hosted by the United States in August 2022.
The goal of the ATSM is to help the African Union offer strategic lift for things such as medical evacuation, humanitarian action and natural disaster relief. The lift would be offered through the Africa Air Mobility Command Center, a multinational airlift unit that is under AU authority.
“The role of this Pan-African unit is to provide air mobility in support of peace and security operations and through the support of all African nations contributing to this unit, whether through personnel or any other logistic support,” said Tunisian Air Force Col. Kais Sghaier, 11th Air Unit commander.
The ATSM conference was the first of its kind to be held in person. The previous nine meetings were conducted virtually. Attendees discussed issues such as the necessary qualifications of the unit’s future commander and personnel requirements.
“We need to come up with mechanisms of optimizing the use of the very limited resources available to us, hence the expectation is that airlift resource sharing is one of the topical issues for this conference,” said Botswana Defence Force Brig. Collen Mastercee Maruping, acting deputy air arm commander.
The AU relies largely on external partners and commercial flights to move personnel and material for things such as peacekeeping missions. The ATSM would help employ the airlift capabilities of member states to fill those needs.
“I think it’s every African’s dream to see an African airplane with all African flags across its tail, flying across the continent providing relief and support to Africans,” Sghaier said.
Further proposals for the command center’s location and other issues will be discussed during the 12th annual African Air Chiefs Symposium, scheduled for 2023 in Senegal.