The Kenyan government has ordered three C-27J Spartan transport aircraft and an undisclosed number of AW139 helicopters from Italy to boost the operational capabilities of its Air Force and Police force.
The previously undisclosed aircraft acquisitions were revealed in a new report submitted last week to the parliamentary public accounts committee by Kenyan Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich.
The acquisitions were made between November 2017 and February 2018 and funded from loans advanced to Treasury by private banks. According to the report, the C-27J Spartan military aircraft were acquired for Sh20 billion (S$198 448 276) from Italy.
They were secured through a loan advanced to Treasury by the Unitcredit Spa Bank on 11 December 2017. Rotich said treasury secured another Sh6 billion (51 854 681 euros) from the same bank to fund the purchase of an undisclosed number of AW139 helicopters from Leonardo Helicopters.
He said the aircraft loans will only be repaid starting on 11 June 2019. The report also revealed that on 4 December 2017, Treasury and the ING Bank signed separate loan agreements for 45 917 680 euros and 8 783 120 euros to fund the acquisition and installation of a Damen 4 000 tonne slipway at the Kenyan navy base in the Mtongwe coastal area of Mombasa.
“This loan was advanced to help improve naval security surveillance along the Kenyan coast,” Rotich stated in the report. The loan will also cover the construction of second runway to handle larger aircraft at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
No timeline was given for the completion of upgrading works at the naval base in Mtongwe and delivery of the C-27J Spartans.
Four AW139 helicopters were this week delivered to the Kenyan National Police Service Air Wing by Leonardo Helicopters.
They will be used in public order policing, security and surveillance and VIP transport operations. However, it remains unclear if these were part of the batch ordered by the government in December last year.
NPS Air Wing (Nairobi) director Rogers Mbithi told members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on national security that the helicopters were acquired at a cost of Sh4 billion.
He told MPs who queried why parliament was not notified of the procurement that the police believe it was above board as it was authorised by Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Joseph Boinnet.
“As the Air Wing, we only gave (equipment) specifications and left the rest of the acquisition procedures to the Ministry (of Interior) and the National Police Service,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mbithi said the Air Wing is stuck with two other broken-down helicopters. The aircraft can no longer gain KCAA certification to fly because they are no longer insured.
Because the Kenyan police air wing does not have the Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) status accorded by the KCAA, its helicopters are serviced at a cost by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
Mbithi said the organisation is on course to begin servicing its own aircraft, having trained its personnel and progressed to the third stage towards acquiring the AMO certification.
* This article was updated to reflect the fact that three, and not one, C-27Js were ordered.