This just in
Unbeknownst to company leadership at Hong Kong-based logistics and aviation company Frontier Services Group (FSG), when Erik Prince, the founder of private security services company Blackwater, cut a deal with the South Sudanese government in 2014, he offered up much more than assistance surveilling oil fields. Though on paper the contract "was for logistical support and camp building, things to support the oil fields," The Intercept reports that Prince "verbally promised" the South Sudanese government a "foreign mercenary force" loyal to President Kiir that one source says included bombs, attack planes, and training for 4,000 soldiers.
The project — which The Intercept reports was essentially "Erik Prince's vision of contemporary warfare on the African continent" — was code-named Iron Fist:
Prince’s $300 million proposal to aid Kiir’s forces explicitly called for ground and air assaults, initially to be conducted by a 341-person foreign combat unit. Prince’s forces would conduct "deliberate attacks, raids, [and] ambushes" against "rebel objectives," to be followed by “continuous medium to high intensity rapid intervention," which would include "search [and] destroy missions." Various drafts of the proposal, obtained by The Intercept, reveal meticulous planning, down to the exact number of munitions and specific hand-held radios that would be purchased. Iron Fist called for the acquisition of at least 600 bombs, 3,500 rockets, 7,500 mortars, and more than 30 million rounds of ammunition.
Among the aircraft offered in the plan were two weaponized and surveillance-equipped Thrush planes. [The Intercept]
Prince is currently the subject of a U.S. government investigation.