Cameroon Air Force / Armée de l'Air du Cameroun
The nucleus of an air force, the Cameroonian Squadron (Escadrille Camerounaise), had been partially trained during the early 1960s by French airmen detached from French units at Bangui, in the nearby Central African Republic (CAR). In 1973 there were still very few fully trained Cameroonian aircrew members or air support personnel among the 250 air force members. Most of the aircrew or skilled technical positions were filled by Frenchmen or by other foreign personnel under contract.
Air force equipment included small numbers of medium transports, light transports, and helicopters. In November 1972 air force and government officials formally announced the acquisition of several French jet pursuit planes. In 1973 the size of the military transport fleet was being gradually increased. Air units were under army control, and their primary mission was to provide air support for the ground forces. A small special unit was assigned to provide airlift services for the president.
There are about 600 troops in the air force which has bases across the country in areas such as Garoua, Koutaba, Yaoundé, Douala and Bamenda. The Cameroon Air Force (Armée de l'Air du Cameroun) theoretically possesses a fairly balanced force of relatively unsophisticated aircraft, although many of these are now old and require high level of maintenance. Emphasis is placed on transport and utility operations in support of ground forces. Combat capability is modest and restricted to a few armed trainers that can be used for ground attack, coin (counter insurgery) and close air support roles.
Six Atlas Impala jet trainers purchased from South Africa in 1997 had a lengthy gestation period before becoming operational and did not enter service until late 1998. None of the Impalas are currently in service apart from a few ultra light aircraft, which are the most recent additions to the inventory. Cameroon’s air arms lacked training aircraft and had also experienced a significant decline in transport assets, one involving the 2001 grounding of the remaining three DHC-5D Buffalo aircraft. As with other regional air forces, few aircraft had been procured since the end of the oil boom in the early 1980s and the burden is beginning to show on equipment that have been in the system for at least two decades.
The Cameroon Air Force was established in August 1960, the year of independence from France. The French supplied the first batch of equipment to the Cameroon Air Force. Later, orders from France included the Alouette II, Alouette III and Gazelle helicopters, and Fouga Magister and Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet, jet trainers etc In 1977, two Lockheed C-130 Hercules were installed into service. Following that, four turboprop de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalos were ordered in 1981. In 1982, three twin turboprop Dornier Do 128s entered service for the maritime patrol role. Six Atlas Impala jet trainers purchased from South Africa in 1997 had a lengthy gestation period before becoming operational and did not enter service until late 1998. None of the Impalas are currently in service.
The air force had 6 Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets (2 inoperable) as attack aircraft; 3 Lockheed, C-130 Hercules and 1 Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma transport aircraft, 1 Piper PA-23, 1 Aérospatiale Alouette II, 2 Joker 300, 7 Humbert Tétras for training and 2 Bell 206 as observation and liaison aircrafts. The independently operated Presidential aerial squadron has 1 Grumman Gulfstream III, 1 Aérospatiale Dauphin and 1 Aérospatiale Super Puma, which are not part of air force equipment. Maintenance of aircraft of this squadron is better than those of the air force.
Airbus Military was pleased to welcome the Cameroon Air Force as a new customer with an order for a single CN235 medium transport in Jue 2012. The CN235 is a robust aircraft with a six tonne payload That is well-proven in hot, dusty and humid condition Throughout Africa. It is flexible and reliable with good short take-off and landing capability, and Its cabin can be Easily reconfigured for a variety of transportation tasks Such as carrying troops, cargo, mixed loads or for medical evacuation. The aircraft will be used to modernize the Cameroon Air Force's transportation fleet. Versatility, and low service and operating costs Were key factoring in the Cameroon Air Force's selection of the CN235, qui will be used to modernize ict transportation fleet. "Airbus Military is proud to Gained-have the confidence of the Cameroon Air Force and looks forward to standing by our customer as a trusted partner for Many Years to come, "Said Antonio Rodriguez Barberán, Airbus Military VP Commercial.
"The CN235 is exactly the kind of workhorse required for current and future airlift mission to be Performed by the Cameroon Air Force and we are optimistic That its in service performance will lead to further Top orders from Cameroon." With this new order, Airbus HAS secured 276 orders for the CN235 for 43 operators around the world in Both transportation and Actual surveillance Emphasizing ict market-leading capabilities in Both Sectors. It was currently in service in 28 countries, operating in The Most Demanding requirements from extreme cold to hot deserts , and hAS accumulated more than one million flight hours. THE CN235 Able to carry up to six tonnes of payload and with a maximum cruise speed of 240 knots (450 km / h), the CN235 is reliable to take off from, and land on , short, semi-prepared runways with soft surfaces thanks to ict Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) characteristics and the strong landing gear with tandem low-pressure tire. Its great handling qualities, high maneuverability and fast engine (two General Electric GE CT7-9C3 1870 shp) response allow safe critical operations at a very low altitude. Outstanding reliability and supportability result in high aircraft availability and the lowest life cycle cost (LCC) in its class.
The air force includes three main aerial bases, in Yaoundé, Douala, and Garoua. The air force staff is divided between these three bases, within each military region. The Yaoundé base is a helicopter and liaison platform; the Douala base is a logistical and tactical transport platform; the Garoua base is an attack and training platform. The first two bases are overworked due to frequent use over a long period of time. There are no stopping systems, no radio-navigation installations, and no lighting apparatus. No major investment has been made here for a long time. The Garoua base is the more modern and the best equipped and “conforms” to NATO standards having been built by the Germans, following an invitation to tender. The PANVR (Pole Aeronautique National a Vocation Regionale) is located on this base. Large aeroplanes can land easily on this base however; the site is not well maintained.
The Koutaba aerodrome is home to the Bataillon des Troupes Aeroportees (BTAP). Finally, the Bamenda aerodrome could become a fourth aerial base, with the stationing of the airborne rifle commandos (fusiliers commando de l’air – BAFUSCO AIR): 60 people under the command of a lieutenant colonel are assisted by eight officers to work at the site.
Basic training for airmen is carried out at Koutaba. Non-commissioned officers, warrant officers and general officers undergo training at the PANVR, which is also a regional school where pilots from other African countries train. The purpose of the school is to prepare them for the examination for the French air school (CSEA) in ‘Salon-de-Provence’ (in France). However, Cameroonian pilot officers also undergo training in other countries such as Morocco and the USA.
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