France has handed nearly a dozen Forward Armored Vehicles (VAB) over to the Beninese Armed Forces. It is the first batch of 8 armoured forward vehicles out of an expected 15 which was handed over this Friday, January 20, 2023, to the Beninese armed forces. The armoured vehicles are equipped with support weapons and night vision equipment to provide secure transport for troops in theatres and protect them against weapons and their homemade mines used by terrorists.
The VAB armoured personnel carrier was developed by Renault to meet a French Army requirement. The base model is the 4×4 VAB VTT armoured personnel carrier, which can carry an infantry squad of 8-10 fully-equipped troops in the relatively spacious armoured hull. Vehicle armour protects the crew and dismounts from 7.62 mm rounds, artillery shell splinters and anti-personnel mines. This armoured personnel carrier can carry up to 2 000 kg of payload in place of the troops. Most VABs carry at least a 7.62 mm machine gun, although 12.7 mm heavy machine guns and 20 mm cannons are fitted on some of these armoured personnel carriers. Ballistic protection may be provided by various types of turrets.
Beninese soldiers have been trained in the maintenance and use of these machines. France, by this gesture which follows a donation of “pick-up” vehicles a few weeks earlier, comes to testify once again to the quality of its relations with Benin today at war against terrorist groups.
Marc Vizy, the Ambassador of France to Benin specified during the symbolic handing over of the keys, that “the 8 vehicles made available to the Beninese armed forces were used a short time ago in French units. If we decide to separate from it for the benefit of Benin, it is because we pursue the same objective: to bring the firmest resistance to totalitarianism which is expressed on the northern borders of Benin by jihadism. This violent extremism hits people hard.”
Benin is therefore a friend of France which receives a military contribution made up of donations of several types.
Brigadier General Fructueux Gbaguidi, Chief of General Staff of the Beninese army welcomes this stating that, “Benin remains sensitive to your efforts by our side since the beginning of this crisis”, he declared, continuing that “police forces will appreciate the operational boost they receive from a partner of a long time like France.”
This military support to the Beninese armed forces reinforces the French government’s effort, which is involved in the acquisition of equipment for the benefit of the FAB to effectively face the challenges posed by the fight against terrorism. These include aircraft, drones, individual and collective protective equipment, light vehicles and armoured vehicles, and equipment intended for actions in enemy depth which, day by day, make it possible to increase the resilience of armed men and their ability to fight over time. However, the Beninese army is aware that the fight against insurgents will also go through sub-regional cooperation.
For a while now, Benin’s government has been taking steps to stop incursions after several months of terrorist attacks in the northwest and northeast of the country. The authorities continue to reassure the people of Benin: “The Beninese army is sufficiently equipped to ward off all the scourges that can disturb the tranquillity of the Beninese,” Alain Fortunet Nouatin, Beninese Minister of Defense said.
In 2018, the Benin Armed Forces (FAB) received a number of weapons and ammunition from Russia. The arms and trade agreement between both countries was signed in October 2010. According to a news report by Interfax-AVN news agency on 15 August, the weapons include man-portable air defence launchers, man-portable anti-tank rocket launchers, handheld anti-tank grenade launchers, and infantry flamethrowers
Last October, Benin’s army said it foiled a “terrorist” attack in the country’s northwest, killing eight gunmen suspected of operating from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Security forces have faced more than a dozen militant incursions since last year, as concerns mount over the spread southward of violence from the Sahel linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.