US government has cleared the purchase of 12 new American made light attack helicopter gunships to boost the Kenya’s military air capabilities. According to Kenya Defence Forces sources, the new attack helicopters; MD530F are set to replace ageing MD500 fleet.
Kenya’s MD500 helicopters constitutes the core of the reconnaissance equipment supporting KDF ground forces especially in the ongoing fight against the Islamist Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia.
The deal has been approved despite opposition to an earlier weapons purchase deal Kenya had sought from Washington. According to US State Department, the purchase estimated to be worth $253 million (Sh25 billion). The deal includes the purchase of 12 MD530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters, machine gun pod systems, rocket launcher systems and assorted ammunition.
Others equipment include 1,536 M274 smoke rockets, 400,000 rounds of .50 calibre ammunition and communications/navigation equipment. US is also expected to provide Kenya with logistical support, training and technical assistance and spare parts and field service support under the deal.
The helicopter in the proposed sale has been used for a similar mission scope by the Afghan Air Force. This purchase will significantly enhance the KDF modernization efforts and increase interoperability with the U.S Armed Forces and other partners in the region.