US awards major aircraft logistics contracts for Africa Command


The United States Department of Defence has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts to several companies to supply rotary wing logistics support to Africa Command.

On 6 February the Department of Defence (DoD) announced that Michigan-based Construction Helicopters (CHI Aviation) was awarded a contract modification on an existing contract, amounting to $168 964 521, for continued rotary- and fixed-wing airlift support services, including passenger, cargo, casualty evacuation, personnel recovery, air drop and limited door-to-door services to Africa Command. Construction Helicopters has a fleet of S-61N, CH-47D, Hughes 369, C212-200, King Air B200 and Nextant 400XT helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

“Work will be performed in continental Africa, African islands and countries supporting operations in Africa, such as Germany and Italy,” the DoD said, with the contract to run from 2 February 2020 to 1 February 2021. “This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $703 381 606 from $534 417 085.”

At the end of January, Texas-based Berry Aviation was awarded a contract modification in the amount of $157 889 835 for continued rotary- and fixed-wing airlift support services to Africa Command, also between 2 February 2020 and 1 February 2021. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $674 556 717 from $516 666 882. Berry Aviation has done work for the US military in Africa in the past, and flies a fleet of more than 20 different turboprop and turbine aircraft including Bombardier Dash 8, Twin Otter, Metro III, EMB-120, UH-72 and Mi-8.

Also on 28 January, Oregon-based Erickson Helicopters was awarded a contract modification in the amount of $93 601 765 for fixed and rotary wing services for Africa Command between February 2020 and 2021, brining the cumulative face value of the contract to $379 378 242 from $285 776 477. Erickson flies Bell 206, Bell 212, Bell 214ST, Bell 412, S-64, Puma, Super Puma, AS 350, BO 105, S-61 and S-76C helicopters and Beech 1900D, C212 and Lear 35 fixed wing types.

The United States makes extensive use of private aviation contractors to support its activities in Africa, with companies like AAR, Tempus Applied Solutions and Evergreen Helicopters receiving multi-million dollar contracts over the last two decades. US and Canadian companies have also been used for maritime surveillance, with PAL Aerospace and Forward Slope from 2019 being contracted to supply maritime surveillance aircraft in the Mozambique Channel and Seychelles regions.

The extent to which private contractors are being used by the US military in Africa came under the spotlight in the first week of January this year when half a dozen contractor aircraft were damaged or destroyed in an al Shabaab attack against the Manda Bay airfield/Camp Simba in Kenya, which also killed two contractors. This included a highly modified Bombardier Dash 8 STAMP surveillance aircraft, which was apparently being used to track down terrorists in the region, and a King Air twin turboprop. US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) had previously contracted Dynamic Aviation to fly modified Dash 8s on behalf of the US Army. These have been used for surveillance flights over Libya.