The Kenya Air Force (KAF) on 14 February commissioned into service its two new C-27J Spartan transport aircraft acquired from Italy’s Leonardo in a ceremony at Embakasi Garrison.
The ceremony was presided over by KAF Commander, Major General Francis Ogolla, who said the new acquisition will enhance KAF operations.
“After a rigorous process that has taken almost four years, the Kenya Air Force is proud to join other Air Forces (US, Australia, Italy, Chad, Zambia, Morocco among others) that fly the plane,” Ogolla said, adding that a team of pilots, loadmasters and crew have already received specialised training on the C-27J.
The first two C-27Js (registration 224 and 222) arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on 30 January. They were greeted by military officials and President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenya ordered three aircraft in late 2017. News of the contract emerged in late June 2018 when it was revealed that Kenya had taken out a loan from Italy’s UnicreditSpA worth Sh20 billion ($198 million) for the three aircraft on 11 December 2017. Repayment were due to begin on 11 June 2019, with the loan maturing a decade later. Kenya also ordered a number of AW139 helicopters in a separate deal.
The Kenyan military said the C-27Js replace the DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft that were retired in 2014 after being in operation since 1976. It is not clear when the third aircraft will be delivered.
The Spartan offers the ability to carry up to 60 troops in high density configuration and a maximum of 46 paratroopers. In the medical role 36 stretchers and six attendants can be carried. Normal payload is 9 000 kg for the C-27J, although maximum payload is more than 10 tons.
Leonardo recently initiated an upgrade programme covering improved avionics, communication and winglets. The main benefits of the new avionics system include compliance with new civil aviation regulations as well as obsolescence risk reduction.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Air Force will soon take delivery of three C-145A Skytruck light transport aircraft that are excess to United States requirements. They will arrive before September this year, with Kenyan pilots and technicians training in the United States from 2019.
This comes after the Kenya Air Force taking six new MD 530F armed scout helicopters into service in January. They were delivered by the United States in December last year.