East African country receiving armed Cessna Caravans


H3 Solutions is delivering three armed Cessna 208 aircraft to a customer in Africa, which will fit them with laser-guided rocket launchers.

The modified ‘Icarus-X’ aircraft can be fitted with four hardpoints for seven-tube rocket launchers carrying guided or unguided rockets. The launch customer in Africa has chosen to use Thales FZ275 laser-guided rockets, Air Forces Monthly quotes H3 Solutions CEO Ralph de Gier as saying. The weapons will be tested in the customer country. Weapons cueing can be through a Thales Scorpion helmet-mounted display.

Sensors include a retractable Hensoldt Argos II HD electro-optical/infrared gimbal, which the launch customer has acquired, but the L3 Wescam MX-15 or MX-20 could also be carried along with Seaspray 7300 or 7500 radars but a variety of signals intelligence, communications intelligence, electronic warfare and other systems can be integrated.

De Gier told Air Forces Monthly the first Caravan would be delivered by the end of 2019 or early 2020, with another in mid-2020 and the third towards the end of the year.

Belgian-based H3 Solutions say they are a supplier of defence and weapon systems and surveillance and reconnaissance systems. They exhibited their modified Caravan (registration EI-GHZ) at the November 2019 edition of the Dubai Air Show.

H3 Solutions appears to use the H3 Icarus aircraft as the foundation of their modification, which was developed by Germany-based H3 Mission Systems. In 2018 H3 Mission Systems revealed it had been working in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft solutions for a number of years and displayed a modified Cessna Grand Caravan and Grob G120TP trainer at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show.

The Caravan on display was registered OE-EGA and was fitted with a belly pod for ISR and other sensors. The underbelly pod/radome replaces the standard Caravan cargo pod and can contain various sensors and a datalink. The aircraft was subsequently displayed at the Dubai Air Show last year by H3 Solutions.

H3 Mission Systems in 2018 told AIN that the numerous Caravans serving in Africa are a key target market for the company.

In 2016 Kenya received a donated Cessna 208B from the United States after being equipped for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance by L3 Communications with an EO/IR camera signals intelligence equipment. Unconfirmed reports suggest a Kenyan Grand Caravan was destroyed during the January 2020 al Shabaab attack on Manda Bay in northern Kenya. Kenya may be receiving more Caravans and could possibly be the unidentified East African customer for the three new aircraft.

H3 also offers the Grob G120TP trainer with a removeable ISR pod, which offers an integrated sensor suite with AESA radar, electro-optical/infrared system and line-of-sight datalink. Options include the Trakka Systems TC-300 305mm EO/IR turret and Leonardo PicoSAR lightweight synthetic aperture radar. The latest addition to the product line is the Eagle King ISR aircraft based on the King Air 350. H3 is looking at installing its ITAR-free ISR solutions on other aircraft like the Super Tucano and helicopters. The company also offers an aerostat and G520NG high-altitude surveillance aircraft.