A Bombardier Dash 8 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft operated by Canada’s PAL Aerospace has been spotted in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province.
According to Moz24, the aircraft (C-GFMX) was seen last week at Pemba, the capital of insurgency-hit Cabo Delgado.
According to Africa Intelligence, PAL Aerospace has been carrying out maritime surveillance flights in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Seychelles since September at the request of the US military’s Africa Command (Africom).
The Dash 8-300 aircraft (C-GFMX) was most recently recorded flying from Victoria Seychelles International Airport on 3 December, according to FlightRadar data. It had been spotted there in mid-September as well.
PAL Aerospace’s aircraft is modified for ISR missions and includes a drop hatch for the deployment of stores, life rafts, smoke markets and illumination flares. It is fitted with the Thales AMASCOS mission system that can support different radars, cameras etc. The aircraft is fitted with a Thales Searchmaster maritime surveillance radar and MX-15 electro-optical/infrared camera system.
The modified Dash 8, named the Force Multiplier, was unveiled by PAL Aerospace in late 2017 as an on-demand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance special mission platform. The company says this was brought to market in 2018.
PAL Aerospace describes itself as an international aerospace and defence company providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; in-service support (ISS); aircraft engineering and modification; and environmental service solutions.
Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has been hit by an Islamist insurgency for the last couple of years, which has killed hundreds of civilians as well as dozens of Mozambican security forces and several Russian security contractors linked to the Wagner group. It is not clear if the PAL Aerospace aircraft was in Mozambique to monitor the insurgency or had arrived there as part of its maritime surveillance of the Mozambique Channel/Seychelles exclusive economic zone.
The United States has awarded other contracts to private operators to provide maritime surveillance for the Seychelles. For example, in March 2019, the US Department of Defence awarded United States-based Forward Slope Inc a contract worth $442 000 for “Seychelles maritime domain awareness and maritime security efforts”.
Forward Slope said it designed and implemented border and coastal surveillance systems as the prime contractor to a US Navy programme. The shore-based border and coastal surveillance systems “are comprised of national and regional command centres, associated radars, sensors, and software as well as facility improvement.”
Forward Slope has also provided Mozambique with a shore-based maritime monitoring system for its armed forces, the company said, under a US Navy programme.