Djibouti getting special mission Caravan aircraft

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The Djiboutian Air Force will be receiving two Cessna Grand Caravan EX turboprop aircraft for special mission use, including border patrols, after a contract award to Textron Aviation.

The contract was placed by US Army Contracting Command, Textron Aviation announced on 13 March.

“The two special missions Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft will be Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance equipped to ensure the border sovereignty of the country of Djibouti,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation.

This acquisition is the third delivery order under a recently established indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract that allows up to $100 million for the acquisition of Textron Aviation aircraft over a five-year period.

“This multiyear contract allows the US Army Security Assistance Command to rapidly procure Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) aircraft and modifications from Textron Aviation for our Foreign Military Sale allies and partner nations. We are honoured to assist in advancing US national security and foreign policy interests by providing our solutions under the IDIQ and we look forward to further cooperation with the US Army,” Gibbs said.

The Djibouti contract follows the recent placement of delivery orders for three Beechcraft King Air 360ER aircraft two destined for the Peruvian Naval Aviation Force (Fuerza de Aviación Naval) and one the Ecuadorian Naval Aviation (Aviación Naval Ecuatoriana). With the addition of the two Cessna Grand Caravan EX for the Djiboutian Air Force, five aircraft have been ordered under the IDIQ contract, Textron Aviation said.

The United State has supplied Caravan aircraft to a number of African nations for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance duties. For example, in March 2022, Textron Aviation revealed it had been awarded a contract by ATI Engineering Services for four Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft for the Tunisian Air Force, with ATI to modify and equip the aircraft with an electro-optical/infra-red sensor, operator console, tactical radio, video data link and night vision compatible lighting.

The US Government previously provided grant aid funding for 14 Grand Caravan EX aircraft procured through Foreign Military Sale cases throughout Africa. ATI Engineering in 2020 was contracted to convert two Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft for the Rwanda Defence Force under the US military’s African Partnership Flight initiative.

Cessna Caravans have been a popular choice of ISR aircraft amongst African countries, acquired either as donations from the United States or purchased outright.

The US military’s Africa Command partners who already possess Grand Caravan EX aircraft include Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Kenya and Uganda.

Djibouti’s Air Force operates about a dozen aircraft, including two MA60 transports, a Cessna 208 Caravan, two Let L-410 Turbolet VIP transports, five SA365Ns, a Eurocopter AS355, a Harbin Z9, a Mil Mi-8 and two Mil-Mi-24 attack helicopters.