Russian Helicopters has delivered a pair of Mi-172 helicopters to Equatorial Guinea, the company announced today during the Zhuhai Airshow.
As part of the contract with the government of Equatorial Guinea, Russian Helicopters holding company (part of Rostec State Corporation) produced and transferred two Mi-172s manufactured at Kazan Helicopters (KVZ). The rotorcraft have already been delivered to the Central African customer.
One of the helicopters has been delivered in the Salon VIP modification, designed to transport up to 12 passengers in greater comfort. This Hip features a custom-made interior. The second Mi-172 is in a standard passenger modification with seating for 26 people. Both aircraft are understood to be operated by the Presidential Flight.
CEO of the Russian Helicopters holding company, Andrey Boginsky, said: “Equatorial Guinea is a long-time partner of Russian Helicopters. In 2006, we also delivered two Mi-172 helicopters in Salon VIP and passenger modifications to the country. I would like to note that Russian helicopters are popular in Africa due to their advantages: reliability, easy operation, good price/quality ratio. Therefore, I am sure that this contract will not be the last one.”
Equatorial Guinea National Guard
With Equatorial Guinea being continental Africa’s least populous country, and the second smallest in area, it is unsurprising that the air arm it possesses is extremely limited, both in numerical and capability terms.
Following independence from Spain in 1968, the Guardia Nacional (National Guard) operated nothing more than two or three Soviet-built transport aircraft at any one time, these being used to provide communications between the mainland and the country’s offshore capital on the Isla de Bioko. At various times the Guardia Nacional has utilised An-24Bs, An-32s and Yak-40s in this capacity, with a single An-32 fulfilling this role until April 2008, when it was lost in a fatal accident.
The country’s economy underwent a dramatic upturn after 1996 following the discovery of large offshore oil reserves, with Equatorial Guinea now being sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest exporter of crude. This has allowed substantial government investment in several areas, including defence and security, and the Guardia Nacional benefited to the tune of at least three Mi-24V Hind helicopters, which were first noted in-country during June 2002. These are believed to be permanently based at Malabo’s Santa Isabel Airport.
The benefits of large oil revenues have also been made apparent with the government’s purchase of two very modern executive aircraft for presidential transportation duties; namely, a Dassault Falcon 900B and a Boeing 737-700 BBJ. These are also based at Santa Isabel Airport, regularly being seen throughout the world as the president attends summits and state visits.