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Burkina Faso Air Force
(Force Aerienne de Burkina Faso)

The Burkina Faso Air Force (Force Aérienne de Burkina Faso) was founded with French aid in 1964. Until relatively recently Burkina Faso’s air force was incapable of combat, but has been undergoing expansion of late. It received two Mi-35s from Russia in 2005 and three Super Tucanos from Brazil in 2011. Despite the acquisition of such combat aircraft, the air arm is primarily geared for border surveillance and similar missions.

The Escadrille de la République de Haute-Volta (EHV) or the Republic of Upper Volta Air Squadron, was founded in 1964 as a subordinate unit of the Army. A transient air support base was created with the assistance of the French Air Force. After acquiring some utility and transport aircraft, the squadron was attached to an inter-army support regiment. In 1970, the Escadrille was renamed the Force Aérienne de Haute-Volta, or FAHV, and in 1977 became an autonomous force. In October 1985, the Force Aérienne de Burkina Faso, or FABF, was officially inaugurated.

The EHV was initially equipped with a pair of Douglas C-47 Skytrains and three MH.1521M Broussard aircraft. These were followed by a pair of Alouette III SA.316 B helicopters, used mostly for liaison purposes, a twin-engined Aero Commander 500 light utility aircraft, a pair of Hawker-Siddeley HS.748-2A twin turboprop transport aircraft, and a pair of Nord 262 twin turboprop transport aircraft.

Two escadrilles (squadrons) were created: the Escadrille de Transport (Transport Unit), and the Escadrille d'Hélicoptères (Helicopter Unit). Later, the Escadrille d'Entraînement (Training Unit) was added. All squadrons were initially based at Ouagadougou.

In mid-1984, Libya provided eight Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 jet fighters, along with two MiG-21U combat trainer versions. The Libyan Air Force MiG-21 'Fishbed' fighters were based in Ouagadougou, though they were actually on loan by Libya and operated by the Libyan Air Force. These were withdrawn in 1985 without having seen combat. The single MiG-17F Fresco that was also operated by the FABF did see action in the Agacher Strip War in 1985–86.

In 1985, the FABF acquired a pair of ex-Soviet Mi-4 transport helicopters from an unknown source, followed by an additional pair of Mi-4s. The Mi-4s were operated by the FABF until the late 1980s, when they were withdrawn from service. Five Mi-8/17 transport helicopters were later added to the Escadrille d'Hélicoptères. While supervising the ceasefire after the Agacher Strip War, an FABF SA.316B Alouette III crashed at Kouni on 14 January 1986, leaving only one SA.316B in service with the Escadrille d'Hélicoptères.

In 1986, the FABF formed a new unit, the Escadrille de Chasse (EdC) (Attack Unit). In mid-1986 six ex-Philippine Air Force SF.260WP Warrior armed trainers/light strike aircraft were acquired from a dealer in Belgium. These aircraft offered the FABF a simpler and less expensive alternative in tactical air support to the more complicated MiGs. The Warriors were not only used for pilot training, but also as light strike aircraft, and a number of them were employed by the FABF's Escadrille de Chasse (EdC).

Four additional SF.260WPs were subsequently bought directly from Italy. The six ex-Philippine SF.260WP aircraft withdrawn from service in 1993 and returned to their previous owner. But the four newly built SF.260WP aircraft were retained in service, and stationed at Bobo Dioulasso air base. Most of the other light aircraft acquired by the FABF in the 1970s and 1980s have been retired along with the Mi-4 helicopters.

Some recent acquisitions include a Beechcraft King Air, a Piper PA-34 Seneca, a CEAPR Robin light training aircraft, and a single Air Tractor AT-802 aerial sprayer aircraft for spraying insecticides. This later aircraft was purchased after the northern part of the country suffered heavy crop damage from a 2004 invasion of swarming locusts. In 2009, a pair of Xenon Gyroplane autogyros were purchased for use by police and security forces. In late 2005, the FABF acquired two Mil Mi-35 'Hind' attack helicopters from Russia in apparent response by moves by neighboring Ivory Coast to bolster its own air attack capabilities during the Ivorian Civil War.

On 28 March 2012 Embraer Defense and Security disclosed that it had signed contracts with three African nations for the acquisition of the A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training turboprop. The Burkina Faso Air Force, the first operator of this model in Africa, had already received three aircraft that are used on border patrol missions.

The Angola Air Force recently acquired six of this aircraft for the same mission, and the first three will be delivered in 2012. Also, the Air Force of Mauritania chose the A-29 Super Tucano to carry out counter-insurgency missions. The total value of the contracts – including an extensive logistical, training, and replacement parts package – came to more than USD 180 million.

“The Super Tucano is highly efficient and presents low operating costs. Its capability for surveillance and counter-insurgency missions makes it ideal for service on the continent of Africa,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President, Embraer Defense and Security. “The proof is in the fact that several customers will soon be exercising their purchase rights, and the airplane has awakened the interest of several African nations.”

The Third Dimension Support Project has been active since July 2013 and is part of the military and defense cooperation aimed at assisting the host country in the Burkina Air Force Faso. Led by a fighter pilot of the Air Force, this one relies on the setting up of 4 ULM TETRAS and its experience to assure the instruction in piloting of the young pilots military Burkinabè, while putting The flight techniques and tactics specific to the missions of national sovereignty inherent to the air force. He is also a close collaborator of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The missions carried out in TETRAS are diverse. The young pilots learn in particular:

  • aerial surveillance
  • anti-poacher action
  • safety of roads (road cutters)
  • aerial
  • photography search and rescue (SAR) missions

Adapted to Burkina Faso's meteorological conditions, needs and resources, TETRAS ultralights average an average of 1000 flight hours per year.

African Partnership flight concluded a one-week event 21 April 2017, co-hosted by U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, and the Burkina Faso air force, bringing together air forces from around Africa. In all, APF in Burkina Faso hosted airmen from Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco to help strengthen relationships and share aviation best practices through classroom instruction and tabletop workshops.

APFs are comprised of classroom discussion and scenario-based tabletop workshops designed to provide diverse experiences to different African countries at one time. The events serve as stepping stones to providing persistent diplomatic, informational, humanitarian and economic outreach efforts that support the diverse people and nations in Africa.

HADR [humanitarian assistance and disaster relief] was the central theme during APF Burkina Faso that included maintenance and logistics support for light utility aircraft, in addition to the maintenance and logistics requirements necessary to forward deploy light utility aircraft for HADR events.

Over the course of one week, instructors comprised of U.S. Air Force Airmen will work with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco in classroom discussions and workshops about maintenance and logistics support for light utility aircraft. Participants will examine the maintenance and logistics requirements necessary to forward deploy light utility aircraft in response to HADR efforts to include pre-departure preparation, execution and sustainment, and deployment conclusion.

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Page last modified: 06-06-2017 18:16:04 ZULU