The fortunes of the Ghana Airforce seem set to receive a further boost with the induction of new airframes.
Rising from a high-octane session which held on the 20th day of July 2001 which recorded dissenting opinions by members of the parliamentary minority, the Ghanaian Parliament approved the syndication of three loan packages for the procurement of five military aircraft for the West African nation.
The loan agreements included one for the sum of $105,370,177.09 from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) which is intended variously for the acquisition of an Embraer E190 jet, including spare parts and accessories and the construction of an aircraft hangar capable of holding three large aircraft.
Two additional loans for the procurement of aircraft for the Ghana Airforce were also approved by parliament. These include a €60,034,636 loan facility from the Deutsche Bank S.A.E. for the purchase of two CASA 295 military transport aircraft and an €11,750 million loan from the Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited for the purchase of two DA42 MPP Guardian surveillance aircraft.
The aircraft are intended for a myriad of strategic operations of the Ghana Air Force including the surveillance of offshore oil production platforms, border patrol and pilot training. Crucially, some of the aircraft would be deployed for the movement of troops on internal security operations and foreign peacekeeping engagements. The Ghana Armed Forces currently rely on civilian jets for the transport of peacekeeping troops to foreign theatres of operation. The acquisitions are said to be in tandem with the 2009-2012 Strategic Plan of the Ghana Armed Forces.
Expressing a contrary view prior to the eventual approval of the loans and acquisitions, Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had declared that the legislative would not be privy to the agreements, tabling a paper which was purportedly sourced from internet which alluded to an inflation of the contract sum.
The Ghana Armed Forces have put in spirited efforts to address the paucity of combat and operational assets these past eight years. Transactions recorded in the UN Register of Conventional Arms Transfers show that major acquisitions undertaken by the Government of Ghana over the corresponding period include, but are not limited to, the procurement of the following weapon systems;
*4 units of Chinese-built K8 advanced trainer/light attack jets
*4 units of Mi-17 utility helicopters
*48 units of Chinese-built ZBF-05 Infantry Combat Vehicles
*A mix of 39 units of Ratel 20mm gun-armed Infantry Combat Vehicles and units of Ratel 90mm heavy armoured fighting vehicles(26 units)from South Africa
*4 Ratel self-propelled mortars from South Africa
*20 Tactica armoured personnel carriers from South Africa
*Rinkhals and Casspir mine-protected vehicles from South Africa
Orders have also been placed for a pair of decommissioned German Type S143 Albatros Fast Attack Craft manufactured by Lurssen Shipyards while a request for the sale of Alenia C27J medium-lift military transport planes was made to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency in September 2009.
Lurssen-built ships have been in Ghana Navy service going back to the early 1980s in the form of two 58metre gun-armed(GNS Dzata and Achimota)FPB-57 and two 45metre gun-armed TNC 45 Fast Attack Craft from this SAME Lurssen Shipyards. An ex-South Korean PKM patrol ship was commissioned into the Ghana Navy as the “GNS Stephen Otu”, early in 2011. Some new-build ships are also expected to be constructed in China. Two 46-metre patrol craft will be constructed by China’s Poly Technologies while an additional pair of similar-sized ships intended for fisheries protection are to be constructed in China for the Ghana Fisheries Department and manned by the Ghana Navy.
These acquisitions occurring simultaneously and with a triservice dimension to them, are on a scale such as has not been witnessed in Ghana for over thirty-five years.
The Ghana Armed Forces have regularly participated in regional and United Nations peacekeeping operations for five decades dating back to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in 1960.
With additional reports from:
“DAILY GRAPHIC” newspapers edition of 21 July 2011.