The Cameroonian army is apparently receiving a number of Ratel infantry fighting vehicles, which have been deployed with its rapid intervention battalion.
This is reported by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, which quotes a Cameroonian military source as saying that the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) is now operating Ratel 20s. Deliveries began in December 2015, according to the source, and the BIR in now has 12 with its Light Intervention Units deployed in the Far North Province, where the force conducts operations against Boko Haram militants.
IHS Jane’s reported seeing a photograph taken at 1st BIR headquarters in Maroua showing four Ratel 20s armed with 20mm cannons.
The Ratel 20 is armed with a 20mm French GIAT gun in a two-man turret, as well as three 7.62mm machine guns, one coaxial above the turret and one on a hitch mount above. above a hatch in the roof of the aft hull. The 20mm cannon has an effective range of 1,500m and can engage light armored vehicles.
IHS Jane’s said additional deliveries are expected in Cameroon. These join approximately two dozen LAV-150 Commando infantry fighting vehicles, 30 AML-90s, six AMX-10RCs, a dozen Ferrets, eight M-8s and half a dozen VBLs.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) does not list the transfer in its arms transfer database, but it only goes up to 2014. Some of the equipment the Cameroon Armed Forces have acquired over the past five years include five Type-07 armored personnel carriers, six Type-07P/VN-1 infantry fighting vehicles, 12 WMA-301 armored assault fire support vehicles, four Z-9 helicopters and two P-108 patrol boats from China; a second-hand OPV-54 patrol boat from France, two Mi-17 helicopters from Russia; two Aresa-3200 patrol boats and a single CN235 transport aircraft from Spain; and two US Bell 412 helicopters.
South Africa’s National Committee for Conventional Arms Control (NCACC) has yet to release its 2015 annual report listing arms exports, but the 2014 report contains no mention of Ratels’ transfer to Cameroon.
Boko Haram, which hails from northeast Nigeria, has stepped up attacks in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger since last year. Many of the recent attacks in Cameroon have been carried out by women.
Boko Haram has waged a six-year campaign for an Islamist state in northeast Nigeria. Neighboring countries have joined an offensive against the group this year and the conflict has spread beyond their borders, displacing tens of thousands of people.
Cameroon is also part of a Nigerian-led regional 8,700-strong Joint Multinational Task Force (JMNTF) against the militants, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year. The United States is sending military supplies and troops to the central African country to help in the fight. And in December, donated 18 Toyota pickups, a truck, a front-end loader and other equipment to the Cameroonian army.
In October, Cameroon received six armored personnel carriers from the United States. At least 300 US troops arrived in Cameroon in October to provide intelligence and training support to Cameroonian forces fighting Boko Haram.