Ground Warfare

Burkina Faso Receives New WMA301 Fire-support Vehicles and CS/SM1 Self-propelled Mortars

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Burkina Faso Receives New WMA301 Fire-support Vehicles and CS/SM1 Self-propelled Mortars

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Burkina Faso Receives New WMA301 Fire-support Vehicles and CS/SM1 Self-propelled Mortars
Burkina Faso Receives New WMA301 Fire-support Vehicles and CS/SM1 Self-propelled Mortars

Burkina Faso has recently acquired a fleet of WMA301 105 mm fire-support vehicles and Norinco CS/SM1 81 mm self-propelled mortars from the renowned Chinese defense company Norinco. The revelation came to light on January 12 during a ceremony attended by President Captain Ibrahim Traoré, marking the official delivery of this advanced military equipment. A video released by the president’s office showcased Traoré inspecting six WMA301 fire-support vehicles accompanied by a command vehicle. Additionally, the consignment included eight Norinco CS/SM1 self-propelled mortars, a type of weaponry not previously seen in Africa. The mortars utilize Dongfeng light tactical vehicles, further enhancing Burkina Faso’s military mobility and firepower. Burkina Faso is set to receive a total of five consignments in the coming months, as outlined in the strategic equipment plan unveiled by President Traoré on December 31, 2023.

Burkina Faso Army CS/SM1 81 mm self-propelled mortars. (Photo by Présidence du Faso)
Burkina Faso Army CS/SM1 81 mm self-propelled mortars. (Photo by Présidence du Faso)

While President Traoré did not delve into specific details of the strategic equipment plan during his televised speech on December 31, he highlighted the formation of the Special Rapid Intervention Brigade. This elite unit will consolidate various rapid intervention battalions and a special forces group, with the primary objective of reclaiming territory from militant groups operating within Burkina Faso. The acquisition of the WMA301 fire-support vehicles and CS/SM1 self-propelled mortars underscores Burkina Faso’s commitment to modernizing its armed forces and addressing the security challenges prevalent in the region. The choice of Chinese defense technology reflects a growing trend among African nations seeking reliable and cost-effective solutions to bolster their defense capabilities.

511 Tactical
Burkina Faso Army WMA301 105 mm fire-support vehicles. (Photo by Présidence du Faso)
Burkina Faso Army WMA301 105 mm fire-support vehicles. (Photo by Présidence du Faso)

The WMA301 is an export product by NORINCO as the alternative to the domestic PTL02 fire-support vehicles. This fire-support vehicles saw service in different African countries with large area of plains and in Myanmar, serving as a quick-response fire-support vehicles for the buyers and a fast-moving addition to their inventory. The design of this assault gun might likely from the previous prototypes in late-1980s when People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) has yet to develop a low-recoil 105 mm gun for fire-support vehicles platforms; based on the same WZ551 chassis, as the ZSL92 APC and the PTL02 fire-support vehicles. The most noticeable differences from the PTL02 are the newly-designed welded turret that somewhat resembles the ZTZ96A in terms of the arrowhead shape, and the replacement of the original 100 mm smoothbore gun with a 105 mm NATO-compatible rifled gun.

Burkina Faso Army CS/SM1 81 mm self-propelled mortars. (Photo by Présidence du Faso)
Burkina Faso Army CS/SM1 81 mm self-propelled mortars. (Photo by Présidence du Faso)

The CS/SM1 is an export product by NORINCO as the alternative to the domestic PCP001 81-mm self-propelled rapid-deployment mortar. By installing the Type 99 (W99) 81.2 mm high-speed mortar on the fast, highly mobile chassis 4×4, the SM1 provides excellent lethality and mobility in fast attacking operations. As a base SM1 is Dongfeng EQ2050 4×4 light tactical vehicle. The main purpose of the 81-mm self-propelled mortar is the suppression and neutralization of targets opposing motorized infantry. It can also fire aerosol, incendiary and illuminating projectiles. The vehicle can be used for fire support of airborne assault. The rear of the chassis is equipped with weapons and ammunition. Type 99 – smooth-bore breech-charging low-pressure gun with automatic recharge. The mortar receives ammunition from the cassettes for four mines. The maximum mortar range is from 6 to 8 km, depending on the type of mine and charge. In addition, direct fire is provided.

Burkina Faso Receives New WMA301 Fire-support Vehicles and CS/SM1 Self-propelled Mortars
Burkina Faso Army WMA301 105 mm fire-support vehicles. (Photo by Présidence du Faso)

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