The Presence of French Forces in Djibouti
French forces continue to hold a significant presence in Djibouti, home to approximately 1500 military personnel. The French forces in Djibouti include Base Aérienne 188, a naval base, the Djibouti Desert Combat Training and Hardening Centre, the 5th Overseas Mixed Regiment and a detachment from the French Army's Light Aviation.
A Look at the Specifics
Base Aérienne 188 houses four Mirage 2000-5s, a CN-235 transport plane and three Puma helicopters. The French Army's Light Aviation detachment operates with an additional four Pumas and three Gazelle helicopters.
The Future of French Military Aviation in Djibouti
There are plans to replace the four Pumas with NH-90 Caïman TTHs by 2025. The NH-90 is a more manoeuvrable aircraft than the Puma, thanks to its electronic flight controls, and also boasts greater autonomy and payload capacity. The three Puma helicopters belonging to the French Air and Space Force stationed in Djibouti are also slated for replacement, possibly with H225M Caracals.
According to the Military Programming Law for 2024-30, the French Army's Light Aviation is set to have 81 NH-90 aircraft in its fleet, including 18 of the “special forces” version, plus 24 AS532 Cougars.
The presence of French forces in Djibouti is based on a defence cooperation treaty signed between France and Djibouti in 1984, which was renewed in 2011. Negotiations are currently underway for its further renewal.