Bird Dogs to Africa
African countries need counter-insurgency and surveillance aircraft, but they aren’t about to buy top-end gear like an AC-130. Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano turboprop trainer and light attack aircraft is about the upper end – a few African countries have purchased them, and the USA’s LAS program offers them through an intermediary. Lower-end alternatives involve widely-used and easy to maintain light planes like the Textron Cessna C-208Bs fielded by Iraq and Lebanon, AirTractor’s AT-802Us, etc. A recent Pentagon contract shows that the low-end idea is catching on.
Sept 19/14: Aircraft. Textron subsidiary Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita, KS receives a $13.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for 3 Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EXs, which are optimized for short and rough runways in remote areas. Cessna will also provide 1 aircrew training device, spares including a spare aircraft engine, and training via US AFRICOM to Niger, Kenya and Mauritania.
This contract involves pseudo foreign military sales in conjunction with Section 1206 funding. Work will be performed in Wichita, KS and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/15, though the planes should arrive far earlier in order to undergo the conversion at L-3. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition by USAF Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (FA8620-14-C-4015).
Sept 18/14: Mods. L-3 Communications Systems West in Salt Lake City, UT receives an unfinalized $31.2 million firm-fixed-price undefinitized contract to add intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to 3 Cessna 208B aircraft for the countries of Niger, Kenya and Mauritania, and provide spares and training. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 partnership capacity budgets.
C-208B ISRs can also be converted into AC-208B Combat Caravans, by adding Hellfire missiles or undertaking less-involved integration with Textron’s own gravity-dropped G-CLAW light precision weapon.
Work will be performed at Salt Lake City, UT, and Titusville, FL, with an expected completion date of Sept 30/15. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH manages the contract (FA8620-14-C-4020).
1 each: Kenya, Mauritania, Niger