The Kenyan Police Air Wing has taken delivery of a Mil Mi-17V-5 multi-role helicopter from Russian Helicopters as it forges ahead with a force modernisation exercise that includes the acquisition of new aircraft for the Police Air Wing.
The helicopter was handed over to Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery by Alexander Shcherbinin, Russian Helicopters Deputy Director General for Marketing and Business Development in a ceremony held at the Wilson Airport in Nairobi on 29 March.
The aircraft was manufacture by Russian Helicopters subsidiary Kazan Helicopter Plant. Nkaissery hailed the delivery of the helicopter as a boost to the Police Air Wing, which now has three operational Mi-17 rotorcraft.
He said with the new aircraft, the air wing would be able to conduct counter-terrorism operations and respond to other policing needs in remote parts of the country.
“The capacity and ability of the Police Air Wing has tremendously improved in the last four years under the National Police Service modernisation programme, of which the helicopter acquisition project is part.
“Today we launched a long-range helicopter with the capacity to carry 36 fully-equipped security officers and an airborne endurance of up to about four hours depending on various factors including the weather,” Nkaissery said.
Shcherbinin said by opting for the Mi-17V-5, Kenya had joined a growing African customer base which now operates more than 700 products of the Russian Helicopters conglomerate.
“We have successfully fulfilled the contract to supply our first helicopter to Kenya. Currently, the total fleet of Russian-made helicopters in the African countries exceeds 700, and it requires a gradual upgrade.
“Russian helicopters have shown good results in performing the widest range of tasks in Africa. We hope for further and fruitful cooperation,” he said. In terms of the contract, the company has also started training some local aircraft assembly and maintenance specialists.
The company is expected to deliver another Mi-17V-5 helicopter to the Kenyan police service before the end of April. At least five helicopter pilots have been trained to operate the helicopters.
According to Russian Helicopters, the Mi-8/17 type helicopters offered to African clients are intended primarily for use in civil aviation, to transport cargo and passengers including VIPs.
The aircraft is powered by two Klimov VK-2500PS-03 turboshaft engines of 2,400 hp each giving a cruising speed of 260 km/h, a maximum speed of 280 km/h and a range of 800 km. It has a service ceiling of 6 000 m.
The Kenya Police Air Wing lost an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter in a crash in September 2016. It was damaged beyond repair and written off after the accident. The delivery of the Mi-17 partially offsets this, and other helicopter losses by the Air wing.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan National Police Service has also taken delivery of 43 Toyota Landcruiser 4X4 patrol vehicles in single-cab configuration. The vehicles were donated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and they will be used for policing operations in and around the Dadab and Kakuma refugee camps.
The Dadab camp, which is home to thousands of war-refugees from neighbouring Somalia, is set to be closed by the Kenyan government which claims to have intelligence reports indicating that it was a breeding ground for some of the militants who were involved in terrorist acts in the last few years.
The vehicles were handed over to Kenyan Police Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet by UNHCR country representative Raouf Mazou in Nairobi on 28 March.
Boinnet said with the vehicles as a force multiplier, police would work to ensure the security of the refugee camps. Some of the vehicles will be deployed to counter-terrorism operations in the north-east of the country.