Aircraft from the French and Italian Air Force are involved in the repatriation of civilians from Niger.
French and Italian flights have started repatriation of nationals from Niamey, the capital town of Niger. On Jul. 26, 2023 a military takeover occurred in Niger, where presidential guard detained president Mohamed Bazoum, and presidential guard commander general Abdourahamane Tchiani proclaimed himself the leader of a new military junta.
Following the coup, thousands of protesters gathered outside the French embassy, with some trying to enter the building, according to the AFP news agency. They also set fire to the walls of the embassy compound. The coup d’etat prompted concerns that Niger, a former French colony, could pivot towards Russia: some of the protesters outside the French embassy chanted “Long live Russia”, “Long live Putin” and “Down with France”, AFP news agency reported.
As a consequence of the tense situation in the African state, France and Italy announced on Aug. 1, that they were arranging special flights to repatriate nationals from Niamey.
At least two French Air Force Airbus A330s, flying as FAF405 (F-UJCU) and FAF4053 (F- UJCH) could be tracked online via their Mode-S/ADS-B transponders, as they flew southbound from Istres to Niamey Diori Hamani International Airport.
Another A330 (F-UJCN) was scheduled to fly to Niger later on the same day, using again callsign FAF4053 (with arrival expected at 23.15UTC) but at 19.30UTC the aircraft is orbiting over the Mediterranean sea west of Sardinia island.
The first A330, FAF405 has departed at 19.19 UTC and it is currently flying northbound towards France.
The Italian Air Force has sent to Niger one of its KC-767 transport/tanker aircraft belonging to the 14° Stormo (Wing) from Pratica di Mare airbase. The aircraft, using callsign IAM1447 could be tracked online at it flew over Tunisia but the transponder was lost around 13.00 UTC as the aircraft approached the Algerian airspace.
The aircraft, that will repatriate all the Italian nationals (also used in Aquila Omnia, the mission to evacuate Italians from Afghanistan in 2021) is scheduled to depart from Niamey at 22.10 UTC and land in Rome-Ciampino airport later on the night (early morning on Aug. 2, 2023).
France and Italy, along with the United States and Germany, have troops in Niger on counter-insurgency and military training missions but so far there has been no announcement of them being evacuated. The repatriation flights, so far, are arranged to bring back civilian citizens.