Cessna Aircraft has landed a contract from the U.S. Air Force for more than two dozen single-engine airplanes, and the timing couldn’t be better. The deal includes six Cessna 182T Skylanes, 26 208B Caravans and six aircrew training devices, all for use in Afghanistan for light-duty missions and training.
Cessna has been hurting for business since the economic downturn started in 2008, especially in the lower end of its product family. The company manufactures single-engine Skylanes at its factory in Independence, Kansas, and Caravan turboprops in Wichita.
Twelve of the Caravans are to be delivered to Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan, with the remainder going to Kabul Air Base, according to the Air Force. The contract also includes pilot and maintenance personnel training.
In Iraq, Cessna Caravans have been fitted with surveillance gear, and some have been armed with Hellfire missiles. Pilots in Iraq fly Cessna 172 Skyhawks, while in Afghanistan the turbo Skylanes are needed because of the higher altitudes.