A new multi-purpose military aircraft, the CASA C-295, was yesterday, commissioned into the service of the Ghana Air Force at the Air Force Base in Accra by Vice-President John Mahama.
The twin-turboprop transport aircraft, manufactured by Air Bus Military of Spain, can be used for surveillance and reconnaissance as well as search and rescue missions, medical evacuations, and peace support operations.
The first of two CASA C-295 aircraft ordered by the government, to replace the over 30 years Fokker 27, which is to be decommissioned. The second aircraft is expected to arrive in March, next year.
Its endurance is about twice the size of the Fokker 27 and can be reconfigured to carry 71 troops or 44 paratroopers, or 24 stretcher cases, or three light military vehicles, to fit any required mission.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by the military top brass, officials of the Spanish Embassy and members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence, Interior, and Finance.
Vice-President Mahama in an inaugural speech, said the aircraft would strengthen Ghana’s posture towards safeguarding her territorial integrity.
He said the acquisition of the aircraft was in line with the government’s aim of revamping and re-equipping the Ghana Armed Forces adding, “It will be deployed as a troop transport aircraft both internally and internationally.”
Vice-President Mahama congratulated the pilot and the crew on flying the aircraft home safely and stressed that the correct flight and maintenance schedule should be strictly observed to ensure a long-life span.
He said the country is expected to take delivery of some surveillance and trailer aircraft soon besides four new aircraft which had already received cabinet approval.
Mr. Mahama expressed appreciation to the Spanish Government for its support in the acquisition of the aircraft and said the gesture had further deepened the cordial relations between the two countries.
Lieutenant-General Joseph Henry Smith, Minister of Defence, said the acquisition of the aircraft went through all mandatory and statutory approvals.
He said some technicians, crew members and mechanics of the Air Force underwent three weeks training in Spain on testing, retesting and general maintenance.
Juan Antonio Frutos Goldaratz, Deputy Head of Mission of the Spanish Embassy, said the aircraft was a vivid example of the cooperation between Spain and Ghana, which he said, was broadening and strengthening every day in various spheres of activity.