Benin has added five helicopters — three H215 Super Pumas and two H125Ms — to its air fleet.
The helicopters will be used for counterterrorism in Benin’s northwest, where 3,000 Soldiers are deployed to fight extremists as part of Operation Mirador, which began in 2022. Government troops, aircraft and armored vehicles have been deployed on the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger.
The Airbus H215 Super Puma originally was developed and built by the French aerospace company Aérospatiale. It is now built by Eurocopter and Airbus Helicopters. It is a medium-sized utility helicopter and is a larger version of the original Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma. The H125M, also known as the Fennec, is a lightweight multipurpose military helicopter manufactured by Airbus Helicopters.
The two H125Ms are fitted with Trakka Systems TC-300 long-range high-definition electro-optical/infrared cameras.
Benin’s military previously received two AS550 Fennec helicopters in 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The air force has only a few serviceable aircraft in use, namely one Mi-8 helicopter, single DHC-6 and MA600 transports, a couple of Humbert Tétras CSM light aircraft, and a BAe 748 transport.
In January 2023, Benin received eight Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VAB) armored vehicles from France for counterterrorism and other security tasks. Another seven equipped with machine guns in overhead turrets and night vision systems were expected.
In April 2023, the government announced the recruitment of 5,000 new Soldiers to step up the fight against terrorism.