Textron Aviation Defense announced that it has delivered the first of eight Beechcraft T-6C Texan II turboprop-driven advanced military training aircraft to the Tunisian Air Force – the second air arm on the African continent to acquire the type – on November 8.
When operational, the eight T-6C Texan IIs will be employed by No 13 Squadron at Sfax Air Base – which is co-located at Sfax-Thyna International Airport in the east of the country – where the type will be used as the Tunisian Air Force’s new primary trainer aircraft. According to Textron, the second Texan II for Tunisia will be delivered before the end of this year, with the remaining six airframes following in 2023. The US-based aircraft manufacturer added that the initial cadre of Tunisian pilots began training at the company’s facility in Wichita, Kansa, on October 31.
Tunisia will also receive a suite of training devices – including a ground-based training system, an operational flight trainer and a computer-based training lab – and related support, which will be supplied by TRU Simulation and Training Inc – an affiliate of Textron Aviation – and installed at Sfax Air Base. For this deal, Textron collaborated with the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) and US Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron (AFSAT) to support the Tunisian Air Force’s own modernisation and growth programme.
Commenting on this acquisition, Gen Mohamed Hajjem – the Tunisian Air Force’s Chief of Staff – said: “Becoming a regional leader in military flight training excellence is one of the milestones on the path to achieving our counterterrorism and border security mission requirements… This acquisition paves the way for additional bilateral engagements and strengthens our relationship with the US.”
Acquired through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme – which gained US State Department approval on October 10, 2019 – the Tunisian T-6C procurement contract also includes the provision of spare engines and parts, along with aircraft support equipment. In-country field service and logistics support representatives; programme management support; interim contractor support for the first year and training for pilots and maintenance crews will also be provided.
To augment its T-6C fleet, Tunisia is also set to acquire a number of AT-6C Wolverine light attack aircraft from Textron. On February 26, 2020, the US State Department approved this possible FMS deal, which includes four AT-6Cs and associated systems and weapons, including 468 250lb Mk.81 general-purpose bombs and 48 500lb Mk.82 bombs. This sale is worth an estimated $325.8m.
Fouad Kasri, director of Sales & Strategy for Africa and the Middle East at Textron Aviation Defense, added: “Tunisia is the 13th nation to acquire the T-6 and has now taken delivery of the 1,001st T-6 manufactured by our team in Wichita. We are delighted to welcome yet another North African and Mediterranean allied nation to the distinguished group of global air forces who rely on the next-generation T-6 Integrated Training System to achieve their pilot training objectives.”