Gabon has welcomed its recently ordered Airbus C295 transport aircraft, a significant development that follows the approval of the contract several months ago.
The aircraft, bearing the registration TR-KJF, took off from Spain on August 8th and touched down in Libreville, Gabon, on August 11th. However, tracking data indicated that the aircraft was flying in the vicinity of Libreville on August 18th. The impact of the coup that occurred on August 30th on subsequent flight operations remains uncertain.
Former Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba had given the green light for a CFA31 billion (approximately $52 million) loan from Spain’s Santander Bank to purchase this military transport aircraft for Gabon’s Air Force before he was overthrown.
Gabon’s Air Force already operates a CN235M, which made its first flight in 1991 and was recently refurbished by Airbus in Spain. Additionally, the Air Force has a few serviceable aircraft, including a Puma, three Gazelles, an ATR 42 for VIP use, and a Falcon 900 also designated for VIP use. Its fighter force comprises six former South African Air Force Mirage F1 AZ fighters, and for pilot training, South Africa supplied two MB326 Impalas in 2013.
The Gabonese Republican Guard operates a couple of EC135T2+ helicopters, two EC120Bs, and an EC225LP Super Puma.
Over the past decade, Gabon has been actively acquiring various batches of military equipment. In 2019, it was revealed that Chinese VN1 8×8 armored vehicles were in service with Gabon, an export variant based on the fully amphibious ZBL-08 (Type 08) IFV, weighing 21 tonnes. Other recent acquisitions include Dongfeng EQ2050 vehicles and, as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 19 Type-07P infantry fighting vehicles, also sourced from China. France recently delivered a number of AML-90 armoured fighting vehicles to the Gabonese military.
Between 2015 and 2016, Gabon received eight Aravis IFVs from the French company Nexter, along with 24 Matador APCs from Paramount in 2010, followed by ten Maverick internal security vehicles. Additionally, France provided five VAB-VTT vehicles second-hand for Gabon’s UN peacekeeping forces. In the past year, Chinese VP11 4×4 armored vehicles were observed in service for the first time.