Tunisian Caravans nearing delivery

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Tunisia’s Air Force will be receiving four Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft from the United States, and the first of these has been spotted prior to delivery.

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 fleet of Grand Caravan EX single-engine turboprops will aid the Tunisian Air Force in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the country. The Caravans will not be armed but will be configured for ISR purposes to aid in Tunisia’s border security efforts.

On 8 January, the first Tunisian Grand Caravan EX was spotted at South St Paul/Municipal-Richard E Fleming Field in Minnesota with temporary registration N692EX, Scramble reports. Its future Tunisian serial is W41702/TS-UDB.

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.

Africom’s African partners who already possess Grand Caravan EX aircraft include Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Kenya and Uganda. These countries are co-participants in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, particularly in missions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.