Tunisia To Receive Eight Military Aircraft In U.S. Defense Contract

Tunisia has bought eight aircraft from the United States military in an effort to bolster and renew the Tunisian air force’s training aircraft fleet. This deal will be financed through a deal between the United States and Textron Aviation, with the majority of financing coming through the American deal grant and additional contributions from the Tunisian government. The aircraft delivery will begin as early as March 2023, with the complete eight being delivered by 2026. 

The contract with Textron involves $90 million awarded to the company for its production of the eight Beechcraft T-6 Texan II training aircraft. Along with the aircraft, Textron will supply “spare parts, spare engines, aircraft support equipment, FSR support,” and other training equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. The total face value of the contract is around $105 million.

Heightened defence contracting and proliferation of military craft will likely not be conducive to peace in the region. By contracting with Textron to provide these aircraft, the United States is implicitly promoting military action in Tunisia through the development of their air force. Rather than continuing to promote democratization and peacekeeping in Tunisia, this action promotes the expansion of military force at the expense of other programs more beneficial to the country’s development and its civilian population.

Tunisia, regarded as one of the greater success stories of the 2011 Arab Spring, has been facing significant turmoil and economic challenges as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. As global commodity prices surge, rising poverty and widespread food shortages in the region are likely. Also in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, near Tunisia in Northern Africa, Morocco and Algeria have been embroiled in a territory dispute; Algeria, as a long-time military client of Russia, may receive many of Russia’s upcoming defence exports. The United States has in turn provided military craft to Morocco, advancing tensions in the region.

Rather than continuing to perpetuate military action and an arms race with Russia through these multi-million dollar contracts, the United States and Tunisia ought to refocus their attention and relationship on the pressing issue of food security. As the conflict in Ukraine is likely to continue for some time, it is imperative that developing countries affected by the resulting supply shortages receive adequate aid. Especially considering that food shortages are likely to cause conflict within the region, peace promotion would be better served through aid than continued military contracts.