The United States has donated military equipment to Djibouti in the past and has now earmarked two ex-US Army C-23B+ cargo aircraft for the Djibouti Air Force. They will be donated as Excess Defence Articles after being retired as a cost cutting measure.
The Shorts C-23 Sherpa was retired from US Army National Guard service in January 2014 after two decades in service. Some of the 35 retired aircraft will be donated to foreign countries. In December US Army Security Assistance Command spokeswoman Kim Gillespie said that the Djibouti Air Force is set to receive two while the Philippines Army is set to receive two and the Philippines Coast Guard another two.
The Estonian Air Force is scheduled to receive two C-23s, which will replace two Antonov An-2 biplanes. An-2 pilots will soon begin conversion training onto the C-23, with deliveries to take place later this year.
The C-23B+ had been used by the US Army National Guard since the 1990s for things like natural disaster response, cargo, parachute drop training etc. and flown in missions during the 1991 Gulf War and later operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in Egypt as part of peacekeeping duties (monitoring the peace between Egypt and Israel). Although it can land where larger aircraft like the C-130 Hercules cannot and is reliable and economical to operate, one of its limitations is that it is unpressurised, limiting service ceiling to 5 300 metres. However, the US Army primarily retired the type in order to save money.
The C-23B Sherpa carries two pilots plus a flight engineer as well as 18 to 20 passengers. Cruising speed is 420 km/h and range is 1 900 km.
The Djibouti Air Force currently flies around a dozen aircraft, including a Cessna 208 Caravan transport, a Cessna 206, two Let L-410 Turbolet VIP transports, a Eurocopter AS355, a Mil-Mi-8 and two Mil-Mi-24 attack helicopters. In June last year these were joined by an MA 60 twin turboprop transport from Chinas Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) as the country beefs up aerial defence capabilities against regional militant groups and maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean.