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USA turns over C-130H to Botswana Defence Force

June 27, 2024 (by Lt.Cmdr. Bobby Dixon) - U.S. Ambassador Howard A. Van Vranken, U.S. Ambassador to Botswana, and USMCs, Gen. Michael Langley, Commander, U.S. Africa Command, participated in the official transfer of a former U.S. military C-130 Hercules aircraft #OM4 to the Botswana Defence Force in a significant step towards enhancing Botswana's defence capabilities, June 27.

U.S. leaders from the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone and U.S. Africa Command pose for a photo during the transfer of C-130H #OM4 to Botswana, in Gaborone, Botswana, on June 27, 2024. [USMC photo by Cpl. Mary Linniman]

he C-130H aircraft was formally handed over during a ceremony attended by representatives from the U.S. Embassy, AFRICOM, and senior officials from the Botswana government and Defence Force.

"This C-130H couldn't have come at a better time than at this moment. Just a year ago, the last of the C-130Bs, which have served us fabulously for a quarter of a century, was grounded," said Honorable Thomas Kagiso Mmusi, Botswana Minister of Defence and Security. "The BDF has diligently performed a variety of mission sets using these aircraft over the years. These include airlift to support UN Mission in Sudan, AU missions, SAMIM operations, security cooperation exercises such as SADC Air Power exercises and Special Forces exercises with international forces."

"In this symbolic transfer of the C-130H aircraft, we reaffirm our shared commitment to security and stability in the region," stated Van Vranken. "This aircraft not only represents advanced technological capability but also stands as a testament to the enduring friendship between our nations."

The handover ceremony marks a milestone in the longstanding partnership between the United States and Botswana. The ceremony reflects the commitment to strengthen defence cooperation and support regional security efforts by both countries.

The aircraft will provide the BDF with enhanced airlift capabilities, enabling a more effective response to national and regional challenges, including disaster relief, peacekeeping operations, and logistical support.

"It is an honour to celebrate the grant of a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft from the United States to Botswana," added Van Vranken. "The arrival of this C-130 Hercules marks a renewal of Botswana's strategic airlift capability. This aircraft, known for its reliability and versatility, can carry twice the cargo and more passengers than the smaller Casa 235. Additionally, it can fly 30 percent faster and twice as far without refuelling – making it an invaluable asset for Botswana's defence and humanitarian missions."

Botswana's acquisition of the C-130H follows the successful operation of three C-130B aircraft acquired from the United States in the 1990s. These aircraft played pivotal roles in delivering humanitarian aid and supporting the Southern Africa Development Community's mission in Mozambique, flown and maintained by the Botswana Defence Force for thirty years until 2023 when they were retired from service.

The grant of the C-130H was made possible under the United States Air Force Excess Defense Articles program, reinforcing the enduring partnership between the United States and Botswana.

The partnership between the United States and Botswana continues to strengthen and is built on shared values and a commitment to promoting stability and prosperity in Southern Africa.

"Let me once more thank the American people for their continued support and partnership in the preservation of global peace," said Mmusi. "And at this juncture officially accept this C-130H Hercules aircraft on behalf of the Botswana Government."

The ceremony happens as the African Chiefs of Defense Conference concludes in Gaborone, Botswana which brought together over 30 countries from across Africa to discuss security challenges and a way forward.

U.S. Africa Command is one of seven U.S. Department of Defense geographic combatant commands and is responsible for all U.S. military operations, exercises, security cooperation, and crisis response on the African continent in support of U.S. interests and to promote regional security, stability, and prosperity. 

The visit highlights U.S. Africa Command's 3D approach, which leverages diplomacy, development, and defence collaboration. 

Courtesy of U.S. Africa Command

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    Additional images:

    Botswana Defence Force soldiers attend the C-130H transfer to Botswana, in Gaborone, Botswana, on June 27, 2024. [USMC photo by Cpl. Mary Linniman]

    Botswana Defence Force C-130H #OM4 is seen coming into land at RAF Mildenhall on May 20th, 2024. [Photo by Matthew Varley]