A BRAND-NEW Cessna 208 Caravan 675 in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) configuration has been delivered to the Malian authorities as part of European Union (EU) support of the country’s air capabilities to fight insecurity and terrorism. The aircraft, N8573T (c/n 20800619), was officially handed-over to the Malian Government by the EU at Bamako-Sénou International Airport/Base Aérienne 101 on April 2. It had been registered to Africair Inc of Miami, Florida, on December 11, 2018. The company has specialised in supplying aircraft and providing spares support to African nations for the past 50 years.
The ceremony at Sénou Air Base was held in the presence of the Ambassador of the European Union, Mr Alain Holleville, from Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Professor Tiemoko Sangaré, Secretary General of the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, Mr Azer Kamaté, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Major General Abdoulaye Coulibaly, Chief Staff of the Air Force, Brigadier General Daouda Dembélé, the Chairman of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly, Honorable Karim Keita and representatives of the EU Member States.
It will be deployed to Base Aérienne 102 at Mopti-Sevaré Airport, once appropriate infrastructure, including a hangar, is completed. It will be operated by the Force Aérienne de la République du Mali – FARM, Malian Republic Air Force) and be used to provide an observation and monitoring capability for the country’s territory and borders. Surveillance missions will be undertaken at high altitude to mitigate the risk from ground fire. The Cessna will be used to strengthen the rule of law and security on Malian territory, particularly in the central region. The aircraft, which was donated by the EU, is valued at 5 million euros, including sensor equipment and personnel training. Specifics of the equipment fit, described as ‘state-of-the-art’, were not revealed, but photos show that it includes an electro-optical/infra-red sensor ball turret mounted under the port side of the rear fuselage. The Cessna was provided as part of the Programme d’Appui au Renforcement de la Sécurité dans les régions de Mopti et de Gao et à la gestion des zones frontalières (PARSEC – Support Programme for Strengthening Security in the Regions of Mopti and Gao and the Management of Border Areas), which is financed through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.