Tunisia receives first batch of US anti-terror helicopters

Tunisia receives first batch of US anti-terror helicopters
The US State Department sold the helicopters to help fight Islamist insurgency and improve the country's beleaguered security situation.
1 min read
05 February, 2017
A Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter at the Gabes military base on Saturday [AFP]

Tunisia received six helicopters out of a total batch of twenty-four from the United States on Saturday, reportedly to help fight terrorism in the North African country.

Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed witnessed the arrival of the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters at Gabes military base in the country's south.

"[The helicopters] will improve Tunisia's capability to conduct border security and combat operations against terrorists, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)," the US state department said in a statement last year.

The other 18 helicopters are expected to be delivered in March.

The $100.8 million deal between Tunisia and the US State Department was made in May 2016, with a contract that included ongoing systems support and training.

The Kiowa Warrior is a relatively small but powerful combat helicopter which has mostly been used by the US Army for reconnaissance missions since 1969.

There has been a push to phase the OH-58D out of active service in the US recently, in favour of the more heavily armoured AH-64D Apache helicopter.

A recent spate of terrorist attacks has hit the country's economy hard, as international tourists have stopped arriving for fear of violence.