French defense and security company Aero-nautics Services and Engineering (A-NSE) will supply tethered surveillance balloons to Ivory Coast for its border with Burkina Faso.
Niger along with Burkina Faso have been the target of increasingly intense terrorist attacks. In March, security forces on Ivory Coast’s northern border with jihadist-torn Burkina Faso twice came under attack. No group claimed responsibility for that raid, although the attackers are suspected to have been jihadists operating from neighboring Burkina Faso, which has been struggling with an Islamist insurgency since 2015.
A-NSE offers its customers airborne surveillance systems to protect and defend their interests. According to its website, its product portfolio includes both defense and security, as well as civil and commercial tethered balloons and airships depending on the customer’s preference.
For defense purposes, A-NSE offers three tethered aerostats; the T-C60, T-C350, and, the larger T-C1400.
A-NSE biggest aerostate, the T-C1400 has an endurance 90 days, and can go up to 9000 ft. The T-C1400 can carry a payload of up to 750 kg, which comprises of EO/IR, radar, electronic warfare, and communication system equipment.
A similar tethered aerostat was procured by Germany from Rheinmetall Canada at a cost of €21 million to protect its security infrastructure in Niger. Rheinmetall will integrate the surveillance balloon’s sensors into the existing military C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) architecture.
French and Ivorian security services are currently battling jihadist campaign in the Sahel, which sprang up in northern Mali in 2012 before advancing into Niger and Burkina Faso.
France has announced its intention to withdraw some of it’s troops fighting under Operation Barkhane to make way for a unified European special operation; Task Force Takuba.
France has 900 troops at a military base in Ivory Coast in addition to the deployment of 5,100 personnel under Operation Barkhane.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara while campaigning last October for re-election, said Ivory Coast had stepped up “military protection on the border,” with enhanced intelligence and “technological tools.”