Kenya fails to commit to acquisition of 12 Air Tractors from US


The Kenyan Air Force’s (KAF’s) plan to acquire 12 Air Tractor AT-802L counter-insurgency aircraft may have fallen through after Kenya missed two US government deadlines to enter into a binding transaction agreement with the manufacturer.

The order was publicised in January 2017, but the deal was only cleared by the US Senate Congressional Committee on Oversight later in the year. It involves the sale, by US aircraft manufacturer L3 Technologies, to Kenya of 12 armed versions of the AT-802L complete with rocket launchers, machine guns and guided bombs.

According to information from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Kenyan government was required to enter into a binding transaction agreement with the vendor (L3 Technologies) before the sale could go through.

However, Nairobi has since missed two deadlines to sign the binding transaction agreement. GAO Director for Acquisition, Sourcing and Management William Woods said the deal was now being held in abeyance because Kenya missed two mutually agreed deadlines in July and September 2017.
“We have not had any new updates from Kenya. I am not sure if there was ever any further deadline extension beyond the one in September (2017),” Woods told Kenyan media.

To finalise the sale, Kenya was required to sign a formal agreement of acceptance to the offer. This would lay out the administrative and technical details of the deal, including specifications on the number of aircraft to be bought, arms and ammunition configurations, timelines for equipment delivery and final costs per equipment.

According to a US Defense and Security Cooperation Agency announcement made in January 2017, Kenyan sought to purchase 12 militarised AT-802L and two AT-504 trainer aircraft and relevant arms and technical support accessories.

The AT-802Ls, which are configured for low-level counter-insurgency warfare, were meant to be deployed in air-to-ground operations in support of the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) war against Somali militant group Al Shabaab.

Kenya had asked for the June 2017 offer deadline to be extended to September, after national elections had taken place. The deal was also slowed down by the GAO’s investigation into the matter, which was prompted by the US Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and congressman Ted Budd, who represents the North Carolina-based IOMAX, which is in direct competition with L3 and Air Tractor as it offers the Archangel aircraft. IOMAX alleged that L3 and Air Tractor misrepresented the AT-802L to secure the Kenyan deal.

The GAO subsequently dismissed IOMAX’s complaints, saying that US “Air Force and DSCA [Defence Security Cooperation Agency] officials stated that they did not have any reason to believe that Kenya improperly selected the AT-802L. The Air Force determined that Kenya made a reasonable choice when it selected the AT-802L aircraft.”