Two Cessna Grand Caravan EXs will be the first fixed-wing aircraft to be put in service by the Rwanda Defense Force under a contract through ATI Engineering Services and as part of the African Partnership Flight initiative, Textron Aviation announced Tuesday. Grant aid funding from U.S. government foreign military sales cases have made the deliveries possible.
Following the delivery of the Caravans, ATI will modify and equip them with secure high-frequency and ultra-high frequency radios, a night vision imaging system interior and exterior lighting, and a multi-mission interior that can be configured for air ambulance, cargo, and passenger operations with two medical stretcher kits, 11 passenger seats, eight collapsible utility seats, and a removable rollerball cargo floor. The special-mission Caravans are expected to enter service in the first half of 2021.
“The Grand Caravan EX serves an enduring mission by providing transport, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation operations throughout Africa,” said Textron Aviation v-p of special mission sales Bob Gibbs. “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 U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) area of responsibility.”
Seven other African nations already possess special mission Grand Caravan EXs and are coparticipants in United Nations peacekeeping operations, including in missions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.