Kenya receiving Cobra attack helicopters?


The Kenya Air Force may be receiving AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters as part of its military modernisation efforts.

Photos appeared online this week of a Cobra fuselage in Kenya Air Force markings and desert camouflage matching that used by the Kenyan military.

The single aircraft in the photos lacked its stub wings, main and tail rotors, indicating it was partially disassembled for transport and may have just been delivered.

It is not clear when or where the photo was taken, but the presence of military personnel in Kenyan military uniforms indicates it could be in Kenya.

It is also not yet clear where the aircraft has come from. US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Excess Defence Articles (EDA) records do not show a sale or transfer. It is possible the aircraft may have come from Jordan, which has assisted Kenya in the past and in mid-2015 received 16 AH-1s from Israel.

Kenya and Jordan enjoy close military ties, with Jordan selling 15 second hand F-5 fighters to the country in mid-2007 and in September last year taking part in a joint exercise in Kenya, during which both countries pledged to strengthen their defence relations.

Kenya has been expanding its military capabilities of late and on the aerial side is looking to acquire armed aircraft from an Air Tractor/L-3 consortium. The sale still has to be approved by the US Congress, which has put the Air Tractor sale on hold after opposition from a Congressman supporting Air Tractor rival IOMAX.

At the beginning of May Kenya requested the purchase of 12 MD 530F helicopters from the United States, at a proposed cost of $253 million including weapons, ammunition and support. The proposed MD530F sale, which would also include 24 HMP 400 gun pods, 24 M260 rocket launchers and ammunition, would support Kenya’s fight against al Shabaab militants in Somalia and its contributions to the UN/AU mission in that country.

The acquisition of the AH-1 would be a logical step for Kenya, as it is busy taking delivery from the United States of UH-1 helicopters, on which the AH-1 is based. The first six of eight UH-1 Huey IIs was formally handed over in Kenya on 2 December last year. The final two are due for delivery in May this year.