Mil­i­tary gets nine aircraft

The East African - - NEWS -

KENYA HAS ac­quired nine Fen­nec he­li­copters from the United Arab Emi­rates as it ramps up its se­cu­rity mea­sures amid in­creased threats from Al Shabaab in­sur­gents in So­ma­lia.

Last week, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for De­fence Ray­chelle Omamo and the Com­man­der of the Kenya Air Force Maj-gen Fran­cis Ogolla re­ceived the he­li­copters at the Laikipia Air Base in Nanyuki.

Ms Omamo said the aircraft would be used “to sup­port com­bat op­er­a­tions, search-and-res­cue and med­i­cal evac­u­a­tions, and es­cort heavy lift he­li­copters.”

Fen­nec, an Air­bus AS350, is a sin­gle-engine light util­ity he­li­copter orig­i­nally de­signed and man­u­fac­tured in France by Air­bus He­li­copters. It is ca­pa­ble of anti-tank op­er­a­tions, air-to-air com­bat, ground sup­port, util­ity trans­porta­tion role and train­ing mis­sions. It can also be pre fit­ted with guns, rocket launch­ers.

The UAE Army Avi­a­tion Bri­gade and the Air Force Special Op­er­a­tions Com­mand op­er­ate a num­ber of AS550C3 Fen­nec he­li­copters. The coun­try re­ceived the he­li­copters from Air­bus in 2008.

Kenya will now join France, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land, Aus­tralian, Brazil, Den­mark and the UAE mil­i­taries, which are cur­rently us­ing the he­li­copter. It is also the first African coun­try to own this kind of com­bat he­li­copters, which en­tered the mar­ket in 1990. The aircraft, with a grey paint scheme, were re­ceived in Nairobi early this month be­fore they were moved to Nanyuki.

Kenya has also said it will be tak­ing three C-27J Spar­tan trans­port aircraft from Ital­ian firm Leonardo next year. Nairobi is un­der­stood to have pro­cured the aircraft in late June at a cost of $200 mil­lion, hav­ing placed an or­der late last year. They are ex­pected to re­place the age­ing fleet of De Hav­il­land Canada DHC-5 Buf­fa­los.

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