Mali has joined Uganda as the only known operators of the Norinco VN2C. (Norinco)
The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) received several dozen new armoured and unprotected vehicles in a ceremony held at the Kati military camp on 3 December.
Photographs and television coverage of the event showed the deliveries included six Norinco VN2C 6×6 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), making Mali the second known export customer for the type after Uganda.
Unveiled by Norinco in 2016, the VN2C is an improved variant of the VN2, itself a derivative of the Chinese company's widely used WZ551 armoured personnel carrier (APC), with increased protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Norinco says it has a gross vehicle weight of 19 tonnes, a 402 hp diesel engine, and armour that provides STANAG 4569 Level 3a/3b protection.
The FAMa vehicles appeared to be fitted with a low-profile turret armed with an autocannon, although this was not possible to confirm as their weapons were covered during the ceremony.
The Ugandan VN2C acquisition was revealed when two were seen in a video that President Yoweri Museveni released on 20 November showing him visiting the Kalama Armoured Warfare Training School.
The other armoured vehicles that were handed over to the FAMa included six OTT M36 mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, six BRDM-2 armoured reconnaissance vehicles, and two BTR-70 APCs.
The M36s were fitted with antennas for what are likely to be electronic jamming systems to prevent IEDs being remotely detonated. News website Africa Intelligence reported earlier this year that Germany had agreed to donate M36s worth EUR15 million to Mali.