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Chad Air Force / Force Aérienne Tchadienne

A torrential rain with very violent winds destroyed much of Chad's air fleet on 01 July 2017. Already the air force had only a few planes and helicopter, but the gale put this old scrap iron out of service. Only the presidential plane, a transport plane and a French air force tanker were spared, while most of the other aircraft were no longer recoverable. "This tornado has struck a tough blow to the Chadian aviation," a senior Air Force official from Chad told AFP . "All the hangars have been destroyed," he said, referring to eight helicopters, five combat helicopters and one fighter jet, and one twin-engine airplane.

DefenceWeb noted "It is not clear what the fate of the rest of the Chadian fleet is. This includes over half a dozen Mi-8/17 helicopters, several SA 330B Pumas, half a dozen Mi-24s, two C-27J Spartans, a PC-7 and several C-130 Hercules transports, amongst others."

The Tchadactuel website that reported the event did not disclose the location, but Jane's imagery analysis identified it as N'Djamena air base in the far west of Chad. N'Djamena is the FAT's main operating station, and is home to most of its aircraft. The French army, present on site with the Barkhane force (4,000 men) fighting against the jihadists in the Sahel suffered less damage. "Nothing dramatic," said Colonel Patrick Steiger, spokesman of the French army , to AFP . Three aircraft - a Transal and two CASA - were hit, but the "exact condition of the damage is unknown," he added. "We are checking and seeing if we need any repairs."

Well-managed nations protect their military material resources, especially their air assets in weatherproof shelters. But not in Chad. The airplane shelters were as well made as the roads of Chad : the roadway bitumen crumbles following a few passages after the inauguration, and shelters of planes torn after a good wind. Literally torn and shredded because they were made of tarpaulins and second quality sheets instead of solid, concrete shelters. Hence, the fruits of hundreds of millions dollars of oil revenue were lost. These aircraft cost the Chadian taxpayers very dear - the hundreds of millions of acquisition costs and the tens of millions of dollars Of hidden fees for intermediaries.

With a squadron of six Sukhoi-25 bombers and MI-24 combat helicopters, the Chadian Air had been among the largest in the region. The small Chadian air force, which in 1987 had fewer than 200 men assigned to it, was a branch of the army. When activated in the early 1960s, its inventory consisted of one C-47 transport aircraft, together with five observation aircraft and helicopters, all flown by French pilots. By the mid-1960s, the air force had a number of Chadian pilots. Within a decade, an additional thirteen C-47s were acquired, as well as several French-built utility aircraft and helicopters.

The capabilities of the air force remained limited to transport, communications, and liaison, however. The air force was used extensively in support of French and Chadian units operating against rebel activity in the north. French fighter aircraft were regularly rotated into the country from neighboring bases for rapid deployment exercises. After the withdrawal of French forces from Chad in 1975, the government reached an agreement with France, which provided for continued French logistical support and training of pilots and mechanics.

In 1976 the air force began to acquire a modest combat capability in the form of seven propeller-driven Douglas AD-4 Skyraiders obtained from France. Flown primarily by French and other contract pilots, these aircraft were used for several years in support of antiguerrilla campaigns in the north. As of 1987, the surviving Skyraiders were no longer operable. In 1985 Chad acquired from France two Swiss-built Pilatus PC-7 turboprop trainers, armed with 20mm guns. These aircraft were suitable for counterinsurgency operations, but as of late 1987 they had been used only for reconnaissance or liaison duties.

The United States had supplied Chad with four C-130 Hercules transport and cargo aircraft in the mid-1980s, of which two remained in operation in 1987. Three of the C-47s and one DC-4 were also still in use. Seven L-39 Albatros jet fighter-trainers of Czechoslovak manufacture captured from Libya were not in operating condition; in any event, the air force did not have jet-qualified pilots. Several of the Italian SF-260 Marchetti turboprop trainer aircraft captured at Ouadi Doum and Fada were reportedly being flown on reconnaissance missions. Armed with 20mm cannons, these light aircraft brought new ground support and counterinsurgency potential to the air force. None of the helicopters previously supplied by France remained in the inventory as of 1987.

As of late 1987, Lieutenant Mornadji Mbaissanabe was serving as acting commander of the air force. Pilots and crews were of Chadian, French, and Zairian nationalities. France had undertaken responsibility for repair and maintenance of the aircraft, although the actual maintenance teams were of diverse origins. Spare parts and major overhauls for the C-130s were being provided by the United States; France provided service depot visits, crew training, and fuel.

The Swiss government summoned Chad's ambassador to explain why his country may have equipped a Pilatus aircraft with weapons in breach of export agreements. On 17 January 2008, Swiss officials confirmed that the PC-9 suspected of being used in attacks on Darfur was refitted to carry weapons. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said it was not clear whether the plane had been used for military purposes by the Chadian government, which was fighting rebels in the east of the country along the border with Sudan. But Seco said the aircraft, which was sold to the African country in 2006 on the condition that it would be used only to train pilots, had "very probably" been armed. Media reports quoting military sources in the African region said attacks on rebels in Darfur were carried out by Chadian helicopters and a PC-9 aircraft on 07 January 2008.

Swiss law forbids the export of military equipment to areas of conflict. The sale was approved by the government in June, 2006. The Pilatus aircraft are subject to Switzerland's Goods Control Act (GKG), which provides for the export of dual-use goods and armaments that do not come under the stricter War Material Act. This has been harshly criticised by the centre-left Social Democrats and pacifist groups, including the president of the commission on security issues, the Social Democrat Barbara Haering. Haering said at the time of the sale that it was cynical for Switzerland to support peace initiatives in the region while delivering aircraft that could be deployed in combat missions.

Switzerland welcomed the signing of a non-aggression agreement, in Dakar on 13 March 2008, between the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al Bachir, and the President of Chad, Idriss Déby, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, and the President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade.

The head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad, Ahmat Allam-Mi, for talks on 19 March 2008. Mrs Calmy-Rey mentioned that the Federal Council possessed information indicating that a Pilatus PC-9 aircraft exported to Chad from Switzerland has been armed and used by the Chadian army in military operations in December 2007 and in January and February this year. The conversion of the aircraft for military purposes contravenes the declaration on final use which was an integral part of the export authorisation, issued on 17 March 2006, in which it is stated that the aircraft would be used solely for training purposes. Mrs Calmy-Rey asked for an official assurance from the Republic of Chad that the Pilatus PC-9 would in future be used in strict conformity with the declaration on final use.

By 2009 Chad was interested in exploring the purchase of C-27J "Spartan" transport aircraft, to satisfy part or all of its strategic air transport needs. The Spartan is a joint Italian (Alenia) and U.S. (Lockheed Martin) product, through partnership of Italy's Alenia and our Lockheed Martin companies. The U.S. military had recently purchased several hundred of these Spartans, which underlines their technical efficiency and tactical usefulness.) Purchasing C-27Js would be more economical than buying C-130Js and might be no more expensive than buying refitted C-130Hs. The C-27Js can land at many more airports in Chad than the bigger C-130s, either Js or Hs, thus complementing USG efforts to make the Chadian military capable of combating terrorism in Chad's vast, remote, under-populated, and under-governed northern Saharan and Sahelian regions.

Chadian aircraft bombed the Nigerian city of Gamboru 31 January 2015. Located at the Cameroon border, it had been held for several months by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Gamboru is separated from a bridge barely 500 meters from the Cameroonian city of Fotokol where there was fighting between Islamist and Nigerian and Chadian soldiers. The first raid was conducted by the Chadian army at midday by two aircraft which dropped their bombs on the town. According Chadian sources, first raid was followed by other bombings around the Gamboru area. The fighters act to allow Chadian soldiers entering Gamboru. Chad had dispatched a large contingent in neighboring Cameroon, to help the Cameroonian army to counter the deadly Boko Haram raid on its soil.

Chad has continued with the acquisition of more advanced aircraft like the MIG-29 multirole fighter, especially since neighboring Sudan had already acquired the platform from Belarus in mid-2008. News of Chad’s pending MIG-29 acquisition surfaced in April 2009 when President Idriss Deby was quoted by the Chadian website Tchadactuel: “No African country except Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa has the weapons that Chad has today. In addition to what I have today, I am trying to acquire others. As I speak, my little brother Umar Deby, accompanied by the chief-of-staff of the air force, is in Ukraine, negotiating the acquisition of three MiG-29s, pilots, mechanics, and ammunition.” The Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant (or LDARZ) overhauled the MIG-29 for export. Chad was preparing to receive MiG-29. A machine designed for the country was taken by Oleg Volkov / in Lviv, Ukraine at the end of May 2014. Chad fighters were to come from stocks of Ukraine, the machines having undergone repair of GPs' Lyvovskiy gosudarstvenn'y aviatsionn'y remontn'y plant [State Aviatin Repair Plant]. The plane, which was filmed already had a desert camouflage identifying marks Air Force Chad and registration TT UAW. It is assumed that Chad has purchased from Ukraine Three MiG-29, perhaps one of them MiG-29UB.

The was not the first time Ukraine is not the provided the country with warplanes. From 2008 - 2010 in Chad were exported five Su-25 and Su-25UB.In 2014, Ukraine exported ordinary weaponry to 19 countries according to a report by the State Export Control Service on international shipments of certain types of weaponry in 2014. One MiG-21 fighter aircraft was exported to Chad.

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