Illinois-based company AAR Airlift Group has won a $22 million contract to provide airlift services to the US military in Central Africa.
This week the US Department of Defence said the $22 665 042 contract for fixed wing services would run from December 28, 2013, to October 27, 2015, and would be effective in Uganda, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan.
“Funds will be obligated on individual task orders and are Army operations and maintenance funds. This contract was a competitive acquisition, and four proposals were received,” the DoD said on Monday.
AAR was contracted through the US Transportation Command (Transcom) to provide the airlift services to US Africa Command (Africom). The company said that the contract includes a base period of seven months plus five three-month option periods and will see AAR provide fixed-wing passenger and cargo transport services, aerial delivery services, and logistics support for allied forces.
“AAR is pleased to expand our airlift services footprint in Africa,” said Randy J Martinez, President and CEO, AAR Airlift Group. “USTRANSCOM’s issuance of this contract to AAR acknowledges our proven performance in remote and austere environments.”
AAR is no stranger to providing airlift capacity to the US military – it currently operates a fleet of more than 40 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft to transport personnel, supplies, and mail for the US Department of Defence in Afghanistan and the Western Pacific. AAR Airlift has provided aviation services in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Colombia.
The US military has previously awarded a number of airlift contracts for African operations – at the end of September Evergreen Helicopters, a subsidiary of Erickson Air-Crane, received a US military contract to provide fixed and rotary wing aircraft for personnel and cargo transport for Special Operations Command in Central Africa. Two $8 million contracts run up to 2015.
The contracts are one of many in support of the US-led Central African military operation to track down fugitive Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony.
In late July Transcom awarded US company Berry Aviation a contract to provide air transport services in support of operations in Western and Central Africa. The initial $10.725 million contract covers a 10.5 month base period, starting in mid-August this year, while three additional one-year options could push the contract value up to more than $49 million.
Berry Aviation has supplied transport services to the US in Afghanistan, something which most likely helped it beat four other bidders. The company is providing two fixed-wing aircraft and equipment to perform casualty evacuation, personnel airlift, cargo airlift, as well as personnel and cargo aerial delivery services throughout the Trans-Sahara region, the company said.
Transcom, when issuing the bid in April this year, said that the contractor would need to conduct air drops, fly commandos in and out of hostile territory and carry out short notice medical evacuation between 12 August 2013 and 27 June 2017. Some 31 African countries would be involved.
Transcom said the transport aircraft would need to carry at least six passengers and 2 500 pounds of cargo. From the US intelligence hub located in a military airfield in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the contractors should also be able to conduct air drops of equipment bundles, provide ‘static-line, personnel air drops’ and clock up to 1 000 flight hours for a period of up to four years. Once airborne, the flight contractors should be able to conduct operations from various “Forward Operating Locations”. Flight contractors should “be airborne with an hour of notification” and will fly US special forces missions in nearly all countries in East, West, Central and North Africa.
The expansion of US commando operations is amongst others focused on confronting the threat posed by Sahelian and sub-Saharan terror groups which include Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al Dine and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which operate in nearly all north and north-west African countries. The operations are also aimed at confronting Al Qaeda inspired Nigerian Islamist militant groups Boko Haram and its more radical splinter movement Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa, better known as Ansaru.
In East and Central Africa, the US special forces operations will target renegade rebel groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army, Al Shabaab in Somalia, Islamic militant sleeper cells in the coastal areas of Kenya and Tanzania and various regional rebel groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Since 2009, private flight contractors engaged by US special operations forces have been operating Pilatus PC-12s (U-28) on intelligence gathering and image collection missions over Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan, Central Africa Republic and other Central African states from a small airport located near the Ugandan city of Entebbe.