There are indications that Kenya’s air force may have acquired a Cessna Grand Caravan. A plain-coloured aircraft of such make has been spotted doing practice flights around Moi Air Base in recent weeks.
In addition, reports published last year by the US Department of Defense show that Kenya is among three African countries that are to receive Cessa Grand Caravan aircraft in 2015 as part of the war against terror.
Launched in 1982 purely for civilian purposes, the iconic Cessna Caravan is turning out to be a useful platform for military operations that require a slow moving, low flying aircraft. For instance, when fighting small bands of armed groups, it is much cheaper and effective to deploy an aircraft such as the Caravan compared to deploying a fighter jet.
The Cessna Caravan has been adapted for combat in recent years, notably by Iraq’s military. Various other countries have Cessna Caravans in their air forces but mostly in the transport role.
The US Department of Defense published a report last September showing the award of a contract worth $13,674,035 to the Cessna Aircraft Company for delivery of three Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EXs to Niger, Kenya and Mauritania.
Another contract report published by the US DoD shows that a $31,159,640 contract was awarded to L-3 Communications Corporation for integration of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities onto the three aircraft.
The Cessna Grand Caravan EX is a relatively new variation of the Cessna Caravan, having received certification in January 2013. The EX has a more powerful PT6 engine compared to the base model and features the latest in avionics.
Due to the interests of operational security, we are unable to discuss in detail the capabilities that this new aircraft brings to Kenya’s defense forces. However, there is no doubt that the Kenya Air Force has received a significant capability boost to its fleet.