On 30th March the Malian armed forces (FAMa) received two Mi-24P Hind-F attack helicopters and a sole P-18 early warning radar system from Russia.
The Mi-24P helicopter would be used to support ongoing counterinsurgency efforts against Islamist militant groups in its desert regions, while the radar system will help establish a rudimentary surveillance capacity.
Defence Minister Sadio Camara received the helicopters on March 30 in the country’s capital Bamako as well as other Russian equipment.
The Malian government reported its new acquisitions as “combat helicopters, the latest radars, and much other material needed for the fight against terrorism and extremism – the fruit of a sincere and very long-running partnership” with Russia.
Colonel Camara said the equipment included a 59N6-TE radar, “capable of detecting in 3D objects flying at a speed of up to 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) per hour. Today, we can say with pride that our army is able to operate completely independently, without asking for help from anyone,” he said, referring to air support provided by foreign armed forces, notably France. No details have been provided about the terms under which the weapons are being supplied.
The equipment were gifted to Mali at no cost, after the West African country had evicted Western military forces that had long been based on its soil, after a change in government in 2020.
Camara went to Moscow in March with air force chief Colonel Alou Boi Diarra, in the early days of the war in Ukraine. They discussed the supply of additional military gear.
At the beginning of 2022 the Malian Air Force only fielded eleven combat aircraft, all Russian designs, forming a single squadron including seven Mi-24D and 4 Mi-35M Hind platforms.