The United States built an air base in Niger, valued at USD 110 million, whose purpose will be to carry out counter-terrorism operations using intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drones (ISR).
This past Friday, the Army finally announced that the base is ready to begin operations.
“We are working with our African and international partners to counter security threats in West Africa,” the United States African Command (AFRICOM), a command responsible for overseeing US operations on the continent, said in a statement.
“The construction of this base demonstrates our investment in our African partners and mutual security interests in the region.”
The base is called Nigerien Air Base 201 , and is located in the desert region of Agadez, a strategic transit area for migrants.
Both US and Niger airplanes will use the runways to launch armed and unarmed air assets against extremists operating in West and North Africa, AFRICOM said in the statement.
While the base built by the US UU. will be under the control of Niger, US forces will have exclusive use of about 20 percent of the base of approximately 9 miles, US military officials told the Stars and Stripes news media .
The base was expected to be operational in 2018, but the rainy season and other “environmental complexities” caused delay, a US official told The Air Force Times.
Here are some key details about Niger Air Base 201:
It is estimated that around 600 U.S. Air Force aviators UU. They will be deployed for six-month tours.
Likewise, according to the Stars and Stripes news media , construction has also benefited the Niger locals.
The United States spent about USD 10 million only on the asphalt for the base, in addition, local labor was used to perform daily work at the base, such as operations at the dining room facilities.
On the other hand, in a new report published last Friday by the State Department, US officials say terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram and ISIS, continue to operate in the region. US analysts say terrorist elements have proliferated due to Niger’s limited military budget.
For this reason, since 2013 US troops in Niger has been increasing.
That year, President Barack Obama announced that 100 members of the US service would be deployed in Niger for “intelligence gathering.”
The land and its borders with Chad and Mali make the country an optimal transit route for terrorist militants seeking to travel to Europe, according to the State Department.
In 2018, AFRICOM publicly announced that it had begun deploying armed drones on a separate base, called Air Base 101, near the capital of Niamey.