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Djibouti Snags New Caravans

30-Year Love Affair With C-208 Continues

The Djiboutian Air Force has snagged a pair of Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft via the US Army Contracting Command, making it the 3rd delivery order under a previously established indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract allowing up to $100 million USD to be used on Textron Aircraft over a 5-year period.

The new aircraft will sport the quintessential "special missions" color scheme, a dim cement grey. They'll be used for the usual ISR missions as the DAF guards its airspace. The order follows similar deals for Peru and Ecuador, who got Beechcraft King Air 360ERs under the program, a pair for the former and a single for the latter. With the Djibouti order, 5 planes have been bought under the IDIQ contract. The deal was once heralded as a much smoother, quicker way to execute Foreign Military Sales cases that involved commercial, off-the-shelf tech, and it seems to be holding true today. It's unknown just how much remains in that $100 million contract limit, but if any other partner nations are looking to grab something from the Textron Aircraft family, now's probably a good time to start the paperwork.

Djibouti has operated the C-208 family for years, first buying into the model in the early 90s. They remain quite small and under the radar, taking in a variety of foreign hand-me-downs from around the world. Their sharpest fang probably remains a pair of MI-24 Hind attack helos, but the rest of their fleet is more mundane - and unnoticed. A quick glance at fleet numbers online shows that the Djiboutian Air Force doesn't gain much note at all, with sparse mentions of donations and purchases over the years. At one point they've had a Cessna 206, Eurocopter AS355, a pair of Let L-410s, and a Chinese Xian Aircraft Corp. MA-60. A survey in 2023 showed that they had apparently pared it down to their trusty old 90's Caravan, 2 MA-60s, the AS355, 2 MI-8s, the MI-24s, 4 Eurocopter AS565s, and a Z-9. It's a little interesting to not see a pair of ex-USAF C-23B Sherpas, since a pair were to be donated in 2015 once the type was removed from US service. With a couple well-equipped Caravans, the border patrol mission should be much easier than it was with their collection of helicopters. A reliable turboprop, reliable, rugged gear, and affordable operating costs are the perfect recipe for those who want to get the mission done with minimal fuss.

“The two special missions Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft will be Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance equipped to ensure the border sovereignty of the country of Djibouti,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation. “This multiyear contract allows the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command to rapidly procure Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) aircraft and modifications from Textron Aviation for our Foreign Military Sale allies and partner nations. We are honored to assist in advancing U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by providing our solutions under the IDIQ and we look forward to further cooperation with the U.S. Army.”



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