France donates two Socata TB-30 Epsilon trainer aircraft to Senegal

France has donated two Socata TB-30 Epsilon trainer aircraft to the Senegalese Air Force for pilot training. Both trainer aircraft will be based just outside the capital Dakar, at its Air Force School located in Thies.

The two Socata TB-30 Epsilon trainer aircraft were received by Senegal’s armed forces minister Sidiki Kaba on 23 May, and according to Christophe Bigot, the French Ambassador to Senegal, the air force schools’ [aircraft] are essential to participating in security, the fight against terrorism and the assurance of a nation’s sovereignty.

Both Epsilon aircraft are part of a programme to transfer military planes from France to the Senegalese Air Force School. Bigot also disclosed that Togolese and Nigerian pilots will soon receive ab initio flight training in Senegal.

Previously, the French Government has donated four Epsilon trainers in 2014 which were used to train around 15 pilots between 2014 and 2019. All four Epsilon trainers have accumulated over 3,300 flight hours.

This new batch of Socata TB-30 Epsilon trainer aircraft increases Senegal’s fleet to eight aircraft. Another Epsilon will be delivered in the future. Kiba said it is being shipped by sea and will be used for maintenance.

The Socata TB 30 Epsilon is a light tandem seat military trainer aircraft that first flew on 22 December 1979. It is powered by a Lycoming O-540 piston engine giving a maximum speed of 380 km/h. Its biggest operator is the French Air Force, but it has also been exported to Portugal and Togo.

In 2020 and onward, the Senegalese Air Force is expecting delivery of four L-39NG attack and trainer jets from Aero Vodochody. These will have the capability to fire the U.S AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles for an air-to-air engagement since the Senegalese Air Force currently lacks fighter jets.

Ekene Lionel

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