Chad’s Air Force has officially taken delivery of two new Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft configured for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) role.
The aircraft were transferred during a ceremony on 2 May at a base outside the capital N’Djamena. It was attended by US ambassador to Chad Geeta Pasi, Agence France Presse reports.
The aircraft originally arrived in Chad on 2 December 2017 and were initially used for pilot training. Maintenance and logistics training continues.
According to The Defense Post, the United States has spent $43 million on the two aircraft as well as hangars and maintenance areas. Between 2015 and 2017 the US has provided security assistance totalling $135 million. Training is ongoing and covers things like counter-improvised explosive device, small boat operations and information sharing training. Some personnel from Chad are receiving training in the United States.
In January this year the US military said Chad’s Caravans are being used as intelligence surveillance reconnaissance platforms that will be used in the fight against terrorist organisations in the region.
The US Air Force’s 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron (MSAS) sent eight Airmen to advise, train and assist with ISR, aircraft maintenance, logistics, and security anti-terrorism at Adjikossei Air Base, Chad, between 8 and 19 January. The two-week programme consisted of classroom instruction and hands-on training for 40 Chadian airmen.
“We feel like it is very important for them to receive this training now to self-sustain today so that they can progress in the future,” said US Air Force Technical Sergeant Julio Figueroa, air advisor, in January.
Chadian Caravans are equipped with L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical surveillance turrets which give a live video feed. This will help Chadians in the effort against violent extremist organizations in the region, particularly Boko Haram and potentially the Islamic State in the North.
Cameroon has also received two Caravan aircraft, which were delivered in January this year. Cameroonian Air Force air and ground crews underwent training on the Cessna 208 in the United States in 2017.
In May 2016 the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Centre awarded contracts for the modification of six Grand Caravans for Cameroon, Chad and the Philippines, with a further contract for the aircraft that September.