4, June 2016
Cameroon, Chad, Niger and the Philippines are to receive Cessna 208B Grand Caravans from the United States, configured for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. On 9 May, the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Centre awarded two contracts for the conversion of the Cessna 208Bs. The first was to L-3 Communications Corporation – Communication Systems West in Salt Lake City, Utah, which will produce the ISR equipment and spares. The deal is worth $14 185 927, with an initial $7 000 673 released at the time of the award. Contract completion is anticipated by 30 September 2017.
The second contract, worth $39 983 647, was awarded to North American Surveillance Systems of Titusville, Florida, and covers modification of the aircraft and integration of ISR capabilities, together with training and field support. Contract completion is expected by 30 September 2019. An initial $19 751 000 was released at the time of the award. Financing for both contracts comes from Fiscal Year 2016 counter-terrorism partnership funds.
The contract announcements, posted on the US Department of Defence website, did not indicate how many aircraft will be delivered to each country. The US military in September 2014 awarded Cessna a $13.67 million contract to provide three Grand Caravan EX aircraft to Niger, Kenya and Mauritania in support of counter-terrorism operations, but it is believed this contract is unrelated to the existing one. L-3 Communications Systems West also received a $31.2 million contract in 2014 to add intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the three Cessna 208Bs. Work was due to be completed in September 2015.
The United States has donated a number of Caravans to African countries in support of peacekeeping and counter-terror operations. The Niger Air Force received two donated Cessna 208Bs in July 2013, but configured for transport tasks. In June 2014 the US government donated two new Caravans to the Mauritania Islamic Air Force to boost its capacity to conduct patrols to counter maritime crimes and regional terrorist groups. Another recipient of Caravans from the United States is Uganda, which received two aircraft on 16 March 2015, to support the Ugandan contingent battling al Shabaab militants in Somalia. The aircraft, worth $15 million including spare parts and training, were donated by the US Department of Defence.