On 11 July 2018, new images of Mali’s four A-29 Super TUCANOs emerged online, confirming that they had arrived to the country for introduction into service. The aircraft had previously been spotted earlier this month at a Brazilian airport, being readied for delivery. The new images were posted online by independent journalist Baba Ahmed, who reports on Mali.
Infrastructure in the photos can be geolocated to the Malian military’s airbase attached to Bamako-Sénou International Airport outside the capital. Mali will hold a formal ceremony for the aircraft arrival, with Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in attendance. Mali initially ordered six A-29s, though this purchase appears to have been amended later on to only four. The Malian military will use the aircraft to support counterinsurgency and surveillance operations, bolstering Mali’s air fleet with further new-build aircraft.
Last year, Mali received Mi-35M attack helicopters from Russia and Y-12 transports from China. Along with its neighbours, Mali has boosted its counterinsurgency capabilities in recent years in order to address the threat of militant groups, particularly those located in the country’s north. The A-29 has received a significant amount of interest from African countries who are looking to conduct light attack operations but lack the budget for advanced aircraft.