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Benin Air Force
(Force Aerienne Populaire du Benin)

Benin's Air Force is focused on transport and communications fnctions, and support of ground forces. It has a limited surveillance capability. Serviceability rates are reportedly poor, though Belgian assitance was anticipated to improved matters.

Upon achieving independence from France in 1960, the Benin Airforce was equipped with seven French-supplied Douglas C-47 transports, four MH.1521M Broussands and two Agusta-Bell 47G helicopters. A pair of F-27s entered service in 1978 for transport duties before being transferred to Air Benin. Also during the same period two AN-26s were acquired. In late 1985 two Dornier Do-28s entered service to replace the C-47s. A single DHC-6 Twin Otter was acquired in 1989.

In 1987 it was reported that "In the wildest shot ever in the history of golf, Mathieu Boya single-handedly destroyed a nation's entire air force! .... Knocked out of the sky [by a golf ball], the crippled bird plunged earthward toward the runway ... the stricken bird crashed into [the pilot's].... The jet veered off the runway and as luck would have it, plowed right into the pride of Benin Air Force-a row of four shiny Mirage jets. One by one the planes exploded in a thunderous fireball. The pilot escaped serious injury. The police immediately arrested Boya, threw him in jail, and charged him with hooliganism. Prosecutors were willing to work out a plea bargain. They would agree to drop the charges if Boya made restitution. Being on a meagre salary it would've taken him 145,000 years to pay it off." The news made a few papers in Africa and France in 1987 and was repeated in "Golf Digest" magazine in 1988. Beninese diplomat Cormeille Mehissou stated "nothing like that ever happened." Benin has military planes, he said, it's just that they're all broken.

By 2010 Benin's air force had one Boeing 727 and a pair of BAE 748s for VIP passenger service. The 2007 acquisition of four Agusta A109BA utility helicopters [from Belgian surplus] doubled the inventory. This provided new tactical support and peacekeeping capabilities. The helicopters were reported to have been supplied without armament, though they had been operated as gunships in Belgian service.

As pair of LH Aviation KH-10 Grand Duc ultra-light aircraft were acquired in 2011 to perform surveillance and training functions. The new Agusta A109BA Hirundo Demo aircraft for the 2012 Airshow season was officially rolled out at Beauvechain airbase on April 26th, 2012. At the same occasion two Benin Air Force pilots completed their type conversion at the base.

The 2013 Regional African Air Chiefs Conference came to a close 22 August 2013. The symposium consisted of three days of discussions, idea-sharing, and meetings with various officials to discover new ways that African air forces could partner together and create solutions for common challenges. "We need to advance the development of our air forces," said Col. Leonard Batossi, Benin's air force chief of staff. "This symposium has given us a chance to strengthen cooperation partnerships between attending countries in order to meet security challenges at the regional levels."

Through a press briefing 31 August 2013 at the headquarters, Colonel Léonard Batossi pleaded for the State to take into account the Air Forces in its overall policy of defense of the Nation. Because, to believe the words of the Colonel, "nothing can be done today in the Army without the Air Forces". Recent events on the continent have also demonstrated. That's why Colonel Batossi, assisted by Colonel Gbaguidi Charles, his deputy, Commander Allotchenou Hervé, Chief of Operations, and Tchabi Ibrahim, Head of Cabinet, all raised their voices for a plea for the power of the Air Forces. The celebration of the 52nd anniversary of the Air Forces, on September 1, was rich in color.

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Page last modified: 22-11-2017 14:02:00 ZULU