Everything From Strike Eagles to Drones at U.S.’ African Hub

Wow, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, the Pentagon’s bastion in the Horn of Africa, has grown like crazy. While we’ve all heard it was expanding, I hadn’t seen anything to give a sense of how massive its growth has been, until now.

I hadn’t look at Google Maps satellite pics of the base in a long time, maybe a year, until today. What used to be a fairly modest facility — compared to other expeditionary American air bases– on the south end of Djibouti’s main airport has ballooned into something serious.

(The French may still have an ammo storage facility there, older Google Maps images frequently showed French fighter jets at the ex-Foreign Legion base)

The pic above shows four C-130 Hercules (possibly two Marine Corps KC-130 tankers and three Air Force Special Operations Command AC -130s or MC-130s judging by the paint schemes), three Navy or Marine Corps M/CH-53E heavy lift choppers, three AFSOC U-28As and what looks like one C-12 Huron (it may be an Army RC-12 or an Air Force MC-12 Liberty).

Further to the right (East) of the main American ramp along the new south taxiway you can make out a small, clamshell hangar-equipped ramp sitting by itself for drone operations.

Keep scanning to the East of the drone ramp and you can see another C-130, three P-3 Orion submarine-killers (possibly used to hunt Somali pirates) and six F-15E Strike Eagle bombers. This is the first I’ve even seen what are likely American strike fighters sitting on the ramp of the African base (ok maybe they’re Saudi or Israeli, but I doubt it). There also appears to be a special walled-off facility within the American facility. I wonder who’s operating out of there. Look to the south of the Drone facility and you can see the big white radomes of some type of signals facility.

Click though the jump to check out some close up pics of the base via OSGEOINT.

Click here to learn more about the Pentagon’s increasing presence in Africa.

The picture below shows what appears to be an Predator or Reaper UAV.



  • Lance

    Looks awesome good way to keep AL Qaeda off guard in Africa.

  • Jacob


  • justsayin

    Don’t you know? The U.S. is prepping for war with Iran. WWIII to be exact. The last great war. The world won’t be the same again. Iran, Turkey, Israel, Russia, China. It’ll be a big party.

  • Ryan Taylor

    On google maps it shows about 4 to 7 P3 Orion like aircraft spread across the entire base and airport. I say ‘Orion like’ becase I am not an expert on the aircraft. Not sure if these are all Orions or variants of the same aircraft.

    Imagery date is 2012, nothing more precise.

  • Dave

    Imagine if the Axis had the web and bloggers. The would have won the war!

    • Russ

      My thoughts exactly. Thanks for detailing it all for our enemies, makes their job that much easier… what ever happened to “loose lips sinks ships”?

      • MCQknight

        It’s on Google friggin Earth. Anyone with a laptop and internet access can see this.

        • Riceball

          Not to mention that even if they didn’t have Google Earth all they need a is decent pair of binos and someone who can count and describe the aircraft. It doesn’t take a genius to figure these sorts of things out, one does not need Google Earth to count planes at an airfield, esp. one that’s attached to a commercial airport. Hell, that’s part of the how the Somalis got the drop on the Rangers that resulted in the Black Hawk Down incident, they had people sitting outside the airfield the Rangers operated out of with radios and they’d call in whenever planes and/or choppers took off letting their superiors when, which direction, and how many; all without any loose lips of any sort.

      • tiger

        They already have satelite imagery

    • Robert Pattinson

      That’s where military deception comes in…

  • Desert Dawg

    Not to forget three C-160 Transalls, two non-US Orions (probably Spanish or German), and a Bruguet Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft at the French base just east of the commercial airport. The patrol aircraft are used to support the EU NAVFOR Operation ATALANTA, hunting pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The Mirages are truly gone. Back in the day, the Mirage 2000s were the primary big noise-makers. Now it must be the strike eagles. When the French kept a kepi blanc paratroop force here, each week they would jump two sticks of troops from the Transalls into a DZ just to the southeast of the base. Then they would gather the chutes, pile into trucks and RTB to have some wine.

    • andy

      I would say the dark p-3 is a norwiegen or canadian.

    • M J

      JMSDF also has one or two P-3s there. Japan also is building (or might be finished by this point) their own compound at the NW end of the airfield.

  • Dumb Grunt

    I didn’t know the Marines had a CH-43E. I thought it was the CH-53E Super Stallion. I have flown in and worked with the CH-53D and E, but never heard of or saw a CH-43E. Please clarify.

  • andy

    you can also see another asw ac on the other side of the field diff from a p-3 it is twin engined looks to me like an atlantic.

  • CoCowboy692000

    Welp, this base was put into place quite a while ago. Most American’s have been kept out of the loop, and most still have NO CLUE what it is when they reference Djibouti. My buddy and I were alerted this new base quite some time ago… However, the force level we were alerted to wasn’t a couple of thousand… Try 50,000…..

    So… Hard to say what the truth really is… But I do know the background history on this base… and once again, we walk in behind the damned French and pick up the pieces of their friggin disaster…

    However, I perceive the placement of this base as being convenient to assault of Al Qaeda of Yemen and Oman as well as protection of the pipelines that cross the Saudi Arabian nation to the Ports of Jiddah (near Mecca) and Al Wajh (I think that’s the other one)… Which are essentially at the mouth of the Suez Canal in the Red Sea offering an alternate to the Straight of Hormuz (Meaning – SCREW YOU IRAN).

    • CoCowboy692000

      BUT, you see, the problem is, these bases are so big, that they’re poorly guarded. For instance, 10 days ago or so, TERRORISTS blew up one of these pipelines RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES AT OUR 5th FLEET BASE ACROSS THE BAY IN BAHRAIN… How do you like that… Geeze….. MESSAGE SPOCK???

  • Marcase

    Well now we know what those Strike Eagles were/are up to; splashing AQ chiefs in Yemen…!

  • CoCowboy692000

    Just read this on the link provided by osgeoint below, essentially proving out what I stated earlier… Great link by the way…

    “MSI on 29 October 2011 acquired from Geo Eye shows many of the deployments that imagery watchers of Google Earth are more familiar: the C-130 and the P-3. However, two previously unreported platforms are observed including the F-15E Eagle and the MQ/RQ-1 PREDATOR.”

    I couldn’t post a direct reply so I hope this one posts…

  • I wonder if this is where AFRICOM will ultimately end up. Running it out of Stuttgart is getting a bit nonsensical me thinks.

    • CoCowboy692000

      Well from what I read, it already is… Perhaps I’m mistaken. But I read that on the military’s own site.

  • Bungee Man

    You’re right grunt, the helos are definitely CH-53E super stallions, the seven bladed rotor is a giveaway. I think the D models retained the 6 bladed rotor, although you see a lot fewer of them these days. As for the F-15E’s, those are definitely ours, the Saudis use a lighter grey scheme on their F-15SA’s and the Israelis paint their F-15I’s in camo on the top. Singapore and Korea use dark grey schemes on their F-15SG and F-15K versions but they’ve got their own piracy problems to contend with in southeast asia.

    • Dumb Grunt

      Bungee Man-Thank you. You are correct about the main rotor and the E model’s tail rotor is canted.

  • Infidel4LIFE

    CH-53’s carry a good payload. I wonder how many trips its made to Yemen? How many men they carry..to where? They are doing work, thats for sure.

  • john

    its for the gulf of aden middle of the sea base its a base underwater like the one in cali

  • TAV

    Looks like a P2V on the north end perhaps.