Kenyan AH-1 Cobras coming from Jordan


The second hand AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters Kenya is receiving are coming from Jordan, new information has revealed.

An unidentified source close to the Kenya Air Force told IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly that the AH-1Fs were donated by Jordan, but did not say how many are being transferred.

News of the Kenyan deal first emerged in May when photos emerged on social media of a partially disassembled AH-1 Cobra fuselage in Kenya Air Force Markings and a desert camouflage scheme matching that used by the Kenyan military. The aircraft in the photos lacked its stub wings, main and tail rotors, indicating it was partially disassembled for transport and had just been delivered.

Subsequently, video footage emerged in June of an AH-1 flying at Laikipia Air Base in central Kenya.

Jordan has assisted Kenya in the past, for instance 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.

Jordan in mid-2015 received 16 AH-1s from Israel, but has operated Cobras since the 1980s, when it received an initial 24 AH-1Fs from the United States, followed by another nine (16 were transferred to Pakistan in 2010).

Bell Helicopters told IHS Janes that it would provide support for Kenya’s new aircraft when required.

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.

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.