The Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) will be getting two new multi-mission Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft under a contract awarded to Textron Aviation by ATI Engineering Services.
The contract was awarded in support of the African Partnership Flight initiative, which 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.
This will be the first fixed-wing aircraft to be put in service by the RDF. According to Textron, the aircraft are anticipated to enter service during the first half of 2021, and will primarily be based in Kigali, Rwanda.
“The Grand Caravan EX serves an enduring mission by providing transport, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation operations throughout Africa,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation. “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 (high frequency) and UHF (ultra high frequency) radio systems, night vision imaging system (NVIS) 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 U.S. Government.
AFRICOM’s African partners who already possess Grand Caravan EX aircraft including Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Kenya and Uganda. These countries are co-participants in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, particularly in missions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.