IMINT tracks T-72 tanks towards South Sudan
By Lauren Gelfand and Allison Puccioni
In September 2008 a Ukrainian-owned ship sailing towards the Kenyan port at Mombasa was hijacked off the coast of Somalia. The vessel, the MV Faina, captured public attention for its cargo: 33 T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs), weapons and ammunition and documents that identified the recipient as the government of South Sudan.
Officials confirmed to Jane's that the Faina cargo was the last of three shipments of weapons bound for the south. Published reports highlighted a previous shipment from Ukraine, which moved north in February 2008, comprising T-72s and assorted artillery, as well as a first shipment that had arrived in Mombasa in November 2007. In total, military and diplomatic sources confirmed to Jane's, 100 MBTs were ordered by South Sudan.
A 2005 agreement was meant to bring peace to the fractured nation; the reality, however, is a country still riven and fractured.
A ransom was paid to liberate the Faina in February and it arrived at Mombasa. The tanks were offloaded and transported to Kahawa barracks outside Nairobi, where they were to remain in the possession of the Kenyan military. Since March, however, eyewitness reports, some corroborated by photographic evidence, have placed the tanks elsewhere. At the same time, extensive construction has been ongoing at a military compound of the Sudan People's Liberation Army.
Jane's began an extensive satellite imagery canvass of the area in March, aiming to trace the movement of T-72s from Mombasa towards South Sudan. While the analysis does not conclude that the tanks aboard the Faina were in transit towards their ostensible rightful owners, it does show a pattern of tanks making their way north.250 of 1000 words
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