A US Air Force contract for a fixed-wing light mobility aircraft (LiMA) has attracted interest from companies based in Australia, New Zealand and Spain, but each faces a tough challenge to overcome a homegrown favourite.
The Cessna 208 Grand Caravan is widely considered the USAF's first choice for the contract to supply up to 60 aircraft to the Afghan National Army Air Corps.
The USAF officially notified industry about the LiMA requirement in July, with entry into service beginning in Fiscal 2012.
Meanwhile, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has already delivered at least 11 Cessna 208s for delivery to the Iraq Air Force under a separate contract awarded by the USAF. As of November, ATK's deliveries included five trainers, three reconnaissance aircraft equipped with the L-3 Wescam MX-15 sensor and three strike aircraft each loaded with two Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.