Information on the Puma, BO105, Bell 205, Bell 212 and Mi-24 helicopters used in Sudan, and on the Bell 206 helicopters used in the United Arab Emirates [SDN22587.E]

Please find attached some documents that list or refer to the helicopter forces of Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, and documentation describing in general and technical terms the above-mentioned helicopters.

One source states that in 1986 the emirate of Abu Dhabi had eight SA 330 Puma helicopters, ten AS 332F/L Super Pumas, and two AB-205s, among other helicopters (World Defence Almanac 1986-87 Jan. 1987, 284). The emirate of Dubai was listed as having six AB-205A and three AB-206B helicopters, and seven AB-212s (ibid.). The same source reported in 1990 that Abu Dhabi had eleven SA 330 Pumas, ten AS 332F/L Super Pumas and two AB-206s, while the emirate of Dubai had six AB-205 helicopters, three AB-206s, seven AB-212s and six BO 105s (World Defence Almanac 1989-90 Jan. 1990, 179). Another source states that in 1989 the UAE had five 206A helicopters and one 206L (The Military Balance 1990-91 1990, 121). A 1994 news article reports that the UAE ordered and received ten IAR SA 330 Pumas in 1994 (The Reuter European Business Report 25 July 1994).

A representative at Bell Helicopters Canada stated that the 206A is a general utility helicopter that was later replaced by the 206B (12 Dec. 1995). Both models can be adapted to serve in a variety of civilian or military missions. The Bell 206L is essentially the same as the 206A, although it is slightly longer and thus has greater carrying capacity and weight (ibid.).

The same source stated that the Bell 205A helicopter is an old general utility model, somewhat similar to the Bell 206 (ibid.). The model has now been replaced by the Bell 212. The source stated that the Agusta-Bell helicopters (in helicopter names the letter B before the number stands for Bell, while AB stands for Agusta-Bell) are Bell helicopters manufactured under license in Italy by Agusta helicopters, and may differ in some details from the same models manufactured by Bell Helicopters Canada (ibid.).

In 1986 Sudan was listed by one source as having fifteen Pumas, twenty BO 105s flown by the Police Air Wing, and five AB-212s (World Defence Almanac 1986-87 Jan. 1987, 281). The same source stated that ten more SA 330 Pumas were on order, and commenting on the Sudanese Air Force stated that "at any given moment few serviceable aircraft are available; Egypt has provided some assistance" (ibid.). In 1990 the same source listed Sudan as having fifteen IAR/SA 330 helicopters (The Military Balance 1990-91 1990, 118). A more recent publication lists Sudan as having twenty Puma helicopters, fifteen BO 105 aircraft for police duty and five AB-212s (World Defence Almanac 1989-90 Jan. 1990, 177).

The IAR/SA 330 is a version of the Aerospatiale SA 330 manufactured by Romania's Intreprinderea Aeronautica Romana SA (IAR) (The Reuter European Business Report 25 July 1994). By 1989 IAR was the sole manufacturer of the Puma helicopter, most of which were intended for military use (Flight International 19 Aug. 1989). Sudan received twelve IAR Pumas in 1985 (ibid.). As late as 1994, IAR continued to produce "French Puma SA 300 military helicopters under licence for sale to Sudan, Pakistan, Ecuador, France and the United Arab Emirates" (The Reuter European Business Report 25 July 1994). The UAE reportedly ordered ten SA 330 Pumas in 1994, the last two of which were delivered in July of the same year (ibid.).

Eurocopter Canada, manufacturer of the BO 105 helicopters and representative of the former manufacturer of the SA 330/332 Puma helicopters (Aerospatiale of France), provided the attached specification sheets for models of the BO 105 and the AS 532 helicopters. According to a Eurocopter representative, although the BO 105 models described in the attached specification sheets may not match the exact specifications of the BO 105s used by Sudan, the general description and specifications should be similar (14 Dec. 1995). The AS 330 and AS 332 Puma helicopters are no longer manufactured by Eurocopter; however, the AS 532 Cougar is based on the Puma and shares similarities in design and role capacity (ibid.). The attachments include a picture and a fact sheet on the AS 332 L2 Super Puma.

The attached excerpt from an article on Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB, the original designer and manufacturer of the BO 105) international programmes describes the BO 105 as a multi-purpose helicopter (Military Technology Sept. 1990, 58). The source states that "the BO 105 is certified with over seventy optional equipment kits," adding that "the BO 105's operating spectrum comprises the transport of passengers and loads, rescue missions, offshore operations, general security and control duties for the police, pilot training ... and military missions" (ibid.). Please consult the cited excerpt and other attachments for additional information on this helicopter model.

The sources consulted by the DIRB do not list the Mi-24 Hind helicopter as serving in the air forces of the United Arab Emirates or Sudan. The Mi-24 Hind is described by one source as "a helicopter designed for the attack function, but which also has secondary troop carrying capabilities" (Military Technology May 1990, 20). The Mi-24 Hind helicopters are capable of delivering "heavy firepower" through a combination of 57mm rockets, bombs and machine-gun fire, and have "good armour protection and long loiter time" (ibid. Feb. 1990, 39). The same source states that during the Afghan war in the 1980s, attack helicopters used "low altitude nap-of-the-earth tactics and dispensed flares to reduce their vulnerability" to anti-aircraft missiles and heavy machine-guns, although this resulted in more frequent hits by small arms fire (ibid.). Finally, the report states that "the Stinger and other high-technology anti-aircraft weapons have increased the threat to fighter-bombers and attack helicopters and prompted military commanders to try new tactics and more closely integrate air power, artillery and ground forces" (ibid.).

According to a source, in addition to the purpose-designed attack helicopters, a range of utility, scout and cargo helicopters can be modified into an attack configuration with "very capable weapon and acquisition systems" (ibid. May 1990, 20). Please find attached a photograph of an Mi-24 Hind helicopter published in the cited article (ibid., 26), as well as excerpts from two reports on Soviet air power providing detailed descriptions of some Mi-24 models.

Some news articles consulted by the DIRB refer to helicopters operating in Sudan, although without specific references to the models involved.

For example, one source reports that in September 1993 in the Southern Upper Nile region rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) shot down a military helicopter that reportedly carried eight members of a high-level delegation heading to peace talks with one of the breakaway rebel groups (AP 7 Sept. 1993). The official Sudan News Agency attributed the fall of the helicopter to mechanical failure (ibid.).

One 1989 publication states that the Sudan Air Force has lacked armed helicopters (The World in Conflict 1989 1989, 217). The same source states that

[t]here are forty-four ordinary helicopters but as they are divided among the ten regional commands most generals refuse to run risks with them. Helicopters are considered so precious that in some areas pilots are under orders never to fly more than 20 km from their base (ibid.).
A more recent report states the following:

The air force had a number of unarmed helicopters available for ground support operations against the southern rebels, although it was estimated that as many as 50 percent were not in flying condition. The newest helicopter models were French-designed SA-330 Pumas assembled in Romania and Agusta/Bell 212s manufactured in Italy (Sudan: A Country Study 1992, 249).

The following reports, however, suggest some helicopters may be armed.

One report states that in 1992 Iraqi technicians arrived in Sudan to repair military helicopters (Jane's Defence Weekly 15 Aug. 1992). The same report states that the SPLA claimed to have shot down, in July 1992, a government troop-carrying helicopter with 35 people on board, as well as "a helicopter gunship near the southern Sudanese capital of Juba" (ibid.). Finally, the source states that "the Sudanese government has about 45 helicopters" (ibid.). Iraq reportedly sent "helicopter gunships and other military hardware to Sudan" in 1987 (Reuters 6 Feb. 1988).

One attachment refers to an apparent plot to "bomb the general staff headquarters during a meeting of Sudan's leaders" in which military officers "had planned to use two helicopters to attack the military HQ" (AFP 6 Feb. 1992).

A Sudanese military helicopter carrying 16 people, including military personnel and their family members, crashed on its way from Kassala to Khartoum in late July 1989 due to a sandstorm (UPI 1 Aug. 1989).

In March 1988 rebels in southern Sudan claimed to have shot down a military helicopter that was evacuating wounded soldiers from Liria, killing all 42 soldiers aboard (Reuters 31 Mar. 1988). However, a Sudanese army spokesman denied the claim, stating that a malfunction had forced down the helicopter in the district of Torit and that no one was hurt in the incident (ibid.).

In April 1989 a Libyan pilot, reportedly on a military mission in southern Sudan, landed his helicopter in Egypt and requested political asylum (Xinhua 30 Apr. 1989). The Sudanese prime minister denied that Libyan troops participated in military operations in the south, and added that "the planes of the armed forces are piloted only by Sudanese military men" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below a list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Associated Press (AP). 7 September 1993. AM Cycle. "Sudanese Rebels Claim They Downed Military Helicopter." (NEXIS)

Agence France Presse (AFP). 6 February 1992. "Sudan in Brief: Authorities Reportedly Arrest 41 Officers for Bomb Attempt." (BBC Summary 8 Feb. 1992/NEXIS)

Bell Helicopters Canada, Mirabel, Quebec. 12 December 1995. Telephone interview with representative.

Eurocopter Canada, Fort Erie, Ontario. 14 December 1995. Telephone interview with representative.

Flight International. 19 August 1989. "Military Aircraft of the World: IAR-330 Puma." (NEXIS)

Jane's Defence Weekly [London]. 15 August 1992. "Iraqis Repair Helicopters." (NEXIS)

The Military Balance 1990-1991. 1990. London: The Institute for Strategic Studies.

Military Technology [Bonn]. September 1990. "MBB: Partner in International Programmes."

_____. May 1990. John Zugschwert. "Attack Helicopters Reviewed."

_____. February 1990. Lon O. Nordeen. "The Close Air Support Debate."

The Reuter European Business Report. 25 July 1994. BC Cycle. Adrian Dascalu. "Romania in Helicopter Deal with UAE." (NEXIS)

Reuters. 31 March 1988. AM Cycle. "Sudanese Helicopter Downed, 42 Soldiers Killed: Rebels." (NEXIS)

_____. 6 February 1988. PM Cycle. "Iraq Helps Sudan Militarily, Sudanese Leader Says." (NEXIS)

Sudan: A Country Study. 1992. Edited by Helen Chapin Metz. Washington, DC: Secretary of the Army.

United Press International (UPI). 1 August 1989. BC Cycle. "Helicopter Crashes in Sandstorm, Killing 16".

World Defence Almanac 1989-1990. January 1990. Bonn: Mönch Publishing Group.

World Defence Almanac 1986-1987. January 1987. Bonn: Mönch Publishing Group.

The World in Conflict 1989. 1989. John Laffin. London: Brassey's Defence Publishers.

The Xinhua General Overseas News Service. 30 April 1989. "Sudanese Premier Denies Libya's Involvement in Military Operations in South Sudan." (NEXIS)


Air Force Magazine [Washington, DC]. March 1991. "Gallery of Soviet Aerospace Weapons; Helicopters." (NEXIS)

Defense Electronics [London]. March 1989. Scott Gourley. "The Soviet Army: Air Defense and Aviation." (NEXIS)

Eurocopter Canada, Fort Erie, Ontario. BO 105 and AS 332 L2 fact sheets received by DIRB.

The Military Balance 1990-1991. 1990. London: The Institute for Strategic Studies, pp. 118, 121, 235.

Military Technology [Bonn]. September 1990. "MBB: Partner in International Programmes," pp. 58-59.

_____. May 1990. John Zugschwert. "Attack Helicopters Reviewed," p. 26.