The United States has given Tunisia 12 Maule MX-7 light aircraft for border surveillance as part of its efforts to enhance the North African country’s military.
The first aircraft were handed over on 12 May this year at El Aouina Air Base, during which the United States handed over 24 jeeps and communications equipment part of a $20 million assistance package.
The aircraft are fitted with a fuselage mounted Cloud Cap Technology TASE400 LRS electro-optical/infra-red imaging system, reports Air Forces Daily.
Nine of the aircraft have so far been cancelled from the United States register (six were cancelled on 11 January and three on 6 July) while another three are still registered in the United States, according to Air Forces Daily, indicating that they may not yet have been delivered.
During the May handover, US Assistant Secretary for Defense Amanda Dory said the jeeps, Maule light aircraft and a communication system between them would help Tunisian forces improve their monitoring of Tunisia’s border, especially with Libya. The US ambassador said the package consisted of 48 jeeps and 12 aircraft.
Tunisia is due to receive 24 former US Army OH-58D Kiowa Warriors from the United States, and 12 Black Hawk transport helicopters. A wide variety of equipment and weapons will be installed on the OH-58Ds, including Hellfire missiles, M134 mini-guns, rockets and Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) rounds.
The 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters Tunisia is set to receive from Sikorsky will have been delivered by 2019. They are the most advanced model of the UH-60/S-70 series, and can be armed with rockets and missiles. Tunisia has requested Battlehawk kits to effectively turn the aircraft into attack helicopters. As part of the deal Tunisia will get 24 7.62 mm M134 Miniguns, 24 12.7 mm (.50 inch) GAU-19 Gatling guns, 20 M299 Hellfire missile pods and 24 70 mm Hydra rocket pods with 9 100 Hydra rockets and 100 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles.