US continues to expand Djibouti UAV base


The United States continues to expand its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) base at Chabelley Airfield in Djibouti and has awarded a contract for the construction of additional hangars.

In a notice posted on 13 December, the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website gave details of a contract awarded on 30 April 2018 for the justification and approval of a non-competitive contract for the construction work rather than full and open competition.

The notice said the US Air Force had a requirement for the construction of four semi-permanent hangars with access aprons and foundations at Chabelley Airfield in Djibouti. The project also involved the removal of existing temporary large area maintenance shelters.

A full and open competition was not pursued because “only one responsible source and no other suppliers or services will satisfy agency requirements”. The company awarded the contract is Italy’s Consorzio Stabile GMG SCARL, which is already doing work at Chabelley.

The US Air Force has been flying Predator and Reaper UAVs from Chabelley since 2013. It moved UAV operations from Camp Lemonnier, next to Djibouti’s international airport, after a string of crashes. In late 2010, the US dispatched eight MQ-1B Predators to Djibouti and turned Camp Lemonnier into a full-time UAV base. These UAVs have been used to strike targets in Yemen and Somalia.

Now UAVs are flown from Chabelley Airfield, around 10 kilometres from the capital Djibouti. All other US military aircraft, such as manned surveillance aircraft, transport aircraft, helicopters and fighter jets, (RQ/MQ-1s, MQ-9s, U-28As, F-1Es and C-130s) continue to fly out of Camp Lemonnier.