D2 Government Solutions Maintenance team is providing training to Tunisian Air Force Mechanics on the Cessna 208 in the United States.
The Tunisian Air Force is slated to receive four ISR-configured Cessna Grand Caravan Ex aircraft in a short while.
D2 Government Solutions is a provider in professional aviation, administrative, and support services to various US government agencies. Their aviation services include base operations, aircraft flight operations, maintenance, logistical support, training, range support, aerial imaging, and repair operations.
Tunisia is to receive a total of four Textron 208 Grand Caravan EX aircraft to be used for special missions over North Africa, making a total of four airframes.
“The fleet will aid the Tunisian air force in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the country,” says Bob Gibbs, vice-president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation.
ATI Engineering Services was awarded a $9,690,087 order on 30 September for a Tunisia intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system.
ATI Engineering Services will equip the aircraft with an electro-optical/infrared sensor, tactical radio, operator console, video data link and night-vision compatible lighting to meet requirements.
The deal was conducted via a US government initiative to equip multiple African nations with a combined 16 Grand Caravan EX aircraft via the Foreign Military Sales process. Past recipients are Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, and Uganda, Textron says. Two Cessna C-208B light reconnaissance aircraft were transferred to Chad in May 2018, intended to help its forces fight a jihadist insurgency.
US-Tunisian military cooperation remains stable, and Tunisia has been considered a major non-NATO ally since the Obama administration. Since 2011, the United States is the third-biggest donor of foreign assistance to Tunisia, after Germany and the European Union. A 10-years cooperation deal was signed between both countries when former US Defense Secretary Mark Esper visited Tunisia in October 2020.
Report of Tunisia acquiring the unarmed special mission aircraft first came to the fore in 2019, the acquisition falls under a US Department of Defence Section 333 capacity building initiative in support of US Africom.
C-208 aircraft are increasingly used in counter-insurgency operations around the world, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. For ISR, it is equipped with L3 Wescam MX-15 cameras which can support up to six sensors simultaneously, and blend electro-optical and Infrared imagery.
The EX is the third variant of the all-metal, high-wing 208 Caravan introduced in 1984 and is the second iteration of the Grand Caravan, a stretched version of the 208.
The two aircraft will receive an encrypted UHF and VHF communication system, a datalink, an NVIS night vision system for crews and an optronic ball. The amount of this contract, paid by the Tunisian army, is just under $ 10 million, without the airframe.
Concurrently, Tunisia received eight T-6C Texan II training aircraft in 2022, and Textron Aviation Defense is providing long-lead items to support the aircraft.
This contract comes about 19 months after the US State Department approved the sale of up to 12 Texan II trainer aircraft to Tunisia for an estimated USD234 million.
Besides the T-6C trainer approval, the US government also approved four AT-6 Wolverine light attack versions of the aircraft for Tunisia in February 2020