Textron Aviation has been awarded a contract by ATI Engineering Services for two multi-mission Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft for the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) in support of the African Partnership Flight initiative. This will be the first fixed-wing aircraft to be put in service by the RDF. The aircraft, which are anticipated to enter service during the first half of 2021, will primarily be based in Kigali, Rwanda.
This African Partnership Flight initiative brings together a series of collaborative engagements between African nations to strengthen US strategic partnerships with key countries in Africa, exchange ideas on aviation-related topics and enhance regional cooperation and interoperability.
“The Grand Caravan EX serves an enduring mission by providing transport, reconnaissance and medical evacuation operations throughout Africa,” says Bob Gibbs, VP of special mission sales for Textron. “The aircraft is engineered for challenging missions, high payloads and short, rough runways while delivering single-engine economy and simplicity. It is a perfect match for this mission throughout the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) area of responsibility.”
ATI Engineering Services will modify and equip the RDF's Grand Caravan EX aircraft with secure HF and UHF radio systems, night vision imaging system interior and exterior lighting and a reconfigurable multi-mission interior featuring two ambulatory medical stretcher kits, 11 passenger seats, eight collapsible utility seats and a removable rollerball cargo floor.
The US government has previously provided grant aid funding for 14 Grand Caravan EX aircraft procured through foreign military sale cases throughout Africa, with Rwanda being the latest recipient. AFRICOM's intent is to field multiple iterations of this configuration throughout Africa and to streamline logistics support and enhance partner nation interoperability, both of which will reduce costs to the partner nation and to the US Government.
AFRICOM's African partners who already possess Grand Caravan EX aircraft include Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Kenya and Uganda. These countries are co-participants in UN peacekeeping operations, particularly in missions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Increasing commonality of equipment, such as the Grand Caravan EX, serves as a focal point to substantially increase interoperability in operations, maintenance, supply support and planning.