The Senegalese Air Force (Armee de L’Air du Senegal) has taken delivery of a new Mi-17-1V helicopter, adding to its existing fleet of two Mi-17s. The new helicopter was delivered by the Russian Helicopters company, which is part of the state-owned Rostec corporation.
The Mi-17-1V is a modernized version of the Mi-17, a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter that can also act as a gunship. The Mi-17-1V features improved avionics, navigation, communication, and weapon systems, as well as enhanced performance and reliability. The helicopter can carry up to 36 passengers or 4 tons of cargo and can operate in various weather and terrain conditions.
The Senegalese Air Force operates the Mi-17 helicopters under the Escadron d’Hélicoptères, which is part of the Groupement Opérationnel de l’Armée de l’Air. The helicopters are used for various missions, such as troop transport, medical evacuation, search and rescue, firefighting, and border patrol. The Mi-17 helicopters also support the Senegalese peacekeeping operations in Mali and the Central African Republic. The two Mi-17-1Vs were acquired from Russia in 2004, and a Mi-171E was acquired from Slovakia in 2015.
The Mi-17 is a Russian-designed helicopter that is currently in production at two factories in Kazan and Ulan-Ude. The Mi-17 is also known as the Mi-8M series in Russian service, and has the NATO reporting name “Hip”. The Mi-17 is one of the most widely used helicopters in the world, with over 12,000 units produced and exported to more than 100 countries. The Mi-17 has enjoyed wide export success to African countries, such as Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, and Uganda.
The delivery of the new Mi-17-1V helicopter to Senegal may be an attrition replacement for another Mi-17 that was lost to a tragic incident that occurred in March 2018, when the Senegalese military helicopter crashed in the central part of the country, killing eight people and injuring several others. The helicopter, which was also a Mi-17, was travelling from Ziguinchor in southwestern Senegal to the capital Dakar when it went down in Missirah, a village near the Gambian border. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but preliminary reports suggest that it was due to a technical failure. The Senegalese army spokesman, Col. Abdoul Ndiaye, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and assured them that the authorities were doing everything to clarify the circumstances of the accident.
The Senegalese Air Force is one of the oldest and most respected air forces in Africa, with a history dating back to 1961. The Air Force has a fleet of about 30 aircraft, including fighter jets, transport planes, and helicopters. The Air Force plays a vital role in ensuring the security and sovereignty of Senegal, as well as contributing to regional and international peace and stability.
Meanwhile, Senegal is currently in a conflict, the Senegalese military has launched an offensive operation against fighters allied to the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance, a separatist group in the southern region of the country. The conflict had been mostly dormant until Senegal’s army launched a major new offensive in 2021, designed to drive out the rebels. Senegalese President Macky Sall has made achieving “definitive peace” in Casamance a priority of his second term.