The Chadian Air Force trying to improve it’s firepower by upgrading and arming two of its US-donated Cessna 208 ISR aircraft, as it awaits delivery of Turkish Hükus trainer and light attack aircraft.
But the effort is facing stiff resistance from the Belgium government which are worried over Chad’s spotty human rights track record
The Belgian government cited the brutal repression of demonstrations last October by Chadian security forces that left around fifty people dead.
Chadian Cessna 208s are equipped with L3 Wescam MX-15 cameras which can support up to six sensors simultaneously, and blend electro-optical and Infrared imagery.
However, Chadian government has earmarked $15 million since 2021 to upgrade and arm its two Cessna 208 aircraft which are still not operational since they were delivered in 2018.
Sofema, a French military equipment specialist in partnership with Belgian Thales will convert the two Cessna 208 aircraft.
The authorities in Belgium’s Walloon region, which has control over Thales’ exports from the country, vetoed the sale of FZ275 laser-guided rockets.
The French company Safran has already delivered its Euroflir 410 optronic pods since last February, but the aircraft are not yet in use because the guided rockets and missile have not arrived.
The Euroflir™ 410 family allows fixed, rotary-wing aircraft and UAV to carry out, in any conditions, ISR, search and rescue missions due to long-range observation and accurate targeting and designation capabilities.
France had earlier postponed the sale of Safran ISR equipment to Chad’s air force, to the great displeasure of N’Djamena, however, the Chadian air force tried to turn instead to the Israeli firm Elbit Systems.
But negotiations between Thales, Sofema and N’Djamena are still in going.
The aircraft will now likely be armed with Turkish Cirit air-to-surface laser-guided missiles produced by Roketsan to carry out counter-insurgency missions.
Recent rapport with Turkey will guarantee the sale of the Cirit laser-guided rockets. Chad is already expecting three Hürkuş light combat aircraft from Turkey due to arrive later this year.
Chad’s efforts to forego it’s traditional suppliers for Western and European arms in order to reinforce the legitimacy of General Itno Déby regime seems not to be going according to plans.
As the security situation in the region is fluid, Chad may likely have carried out an attack against Wagner and CAR troops on the behest and assistance of France in December last year.
The airstrike carried out in the middle of the night targeted a military base in Contenaf Base in Bossangoa region, housing both government and contractors from Russian private military company Wagner Group.
N’djamena is still recovering from the loss of its airpower in 2017, when a storm destroyed and damaged a large number of its aircraft.