30 September 2014 by Oscar Nkala/defenceWeb
The US military has awarded Cessna a contract to provide 208B Grand Caravan EX aircraft to Niger, Kenya and Mauritania in support of counter-terrorism operations.
The $13.67 million contract for the three aircraft was awarded on September 19 by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Centre at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The contract also provides for aircrew training devices and spares, including a spare aircraft engine and training to the US Africa Command area of responsibility in support of the three countries.
The aircraft will be deployed to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in support of the new expanded US counter-terrorism effort which relies on the provision of advanced military equipment and intelligence gathering capabilities to key partner nations in the Africa Command Area of Responsibility.
According to the Federal Business Opportunities register, the contract was awarded under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. Work is expected to conclude by September 30, 2015. Funding for the acquisition is being provided through Section 1206 of the US National Defence Authorisation Act 2006. With subsequent amendments extending its scope, this provides the US Secretary of Defence with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes —counterterrorism and stability operations — and foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations. Section 1206 authority now extends through to FY2017.
In a related development, the US Army on September 18 contracted L-3 Communications Systems to upgrade intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the three aircraft prior to delivery.
"L-3 Communications Systems West in Salt Lake City, UT receives an unfinalised $31.2 million firm-fixed-price undefinitised contract to add intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to three 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," reads part of the contract award notice.
Work will be carried out at L-3’s facilities in Salt Lake City and Titusville and will be completed by September 30, 2015. Fiscal Year 2014 building partnership capacity funds are being used to finance the project.
The US has been working closely with both Mauritania and Niger in regional counter-terrorism efforts and has previously donated Cessna Caravans for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations on suspected terrorist hide-outs and training camps across the Sahel.
The Niger Air Force flies two Cessna 208Bs delivered in July 2013. However, these are configured for transport tasks. They were donated by the US along with ten Toyota trucks for border security and cargo operations.
In June this year the US government donated two new Caravans to the Mauritania Islamic Air Force (FAIM) to boost its capacity to conduct patrols to counter maritime crimes and regional terrorist groups.