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USAF plans to buy seven armed AC-208s for Afghan military

Orbital ATK would deliver seven armed Cessna AC-208 Caravan aircraft to the Afghan National Army under a pending US Air Force contract award, the US armed service says.

An acquisition notice posted by the Air Force late on 27 December invites comments on a plan to award the contract to Orbital ATK without a competition.

Any responses with alternative options must be submitted to the Aeronautical Systems Center by 12 January. Bids from non-American companies are excluded due to security requirements, the Air Force notice says.

If finalised, the deal would add to the seven AC-208s to 208 more aircraft that the Department of Defense supplied to the Afghan military and police between Fiscal 2007 and 2016, according to a 10 August report by the US Government Accountability Office.

The Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing already operate the unarmed version of the C-208 turboprop as a cargo and utility transport.

Orbital ATK advertises the AC-208 Eliminator as a mini-gunship equipped with 70mm (2.75in) guided rockets and Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The aircraft also comes with sensors, target designators, data links and self-protection systems.

The company would deliver the seven aircraft for inspection and approval to the 645th Aeronautical Systems Group, the Air Force notice says. If approved, Orbital ATK must then fly the aircraft to the training site for Afghan C-208 pilots in Fort Worth, Texas.

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