The United States has formally handed over the first six of an eventual eight Bell Huey II helicopters to Kenya.
The aircraft were handed over to Defence Cabinet Secretary Rachel Omamao by US Ambassador to Kenya Robert F Godec at Laikipia Air Base on Friday 2 December. Also present during the ceremony was Chief of Defense Forces General Samson Mwathethe.
The first six helicopters were delivered by Bell to the United States government on 17 November, and immediately transferred to the Kenya Air Force. In September this year the US Department of Defence announced that it had awarded Bell Helicopter a foreign military sales contract worth $52.1 million for the supply of five Huey II helicopters and spares for Kenya. It now turns out that a total of eight helicopters are being delivered, with the final two to arrive in Kenya in May 2017.
“The Huey II helicopters that we are delivering today represent the United States’ largest single security cooperation initiative ever undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa. It is an initiative that was Kenyan-led, originating in the Kenya National Military Strategy and the White Paper on military cooperation with the United States, signed by General Jeremiah Kianga in June 2010. The vision outlined then – to strengthen Kenya’s military capabilities and increase security cooperation between our two nations – remains the same today,” Godec said.
The US Ambassador said the Hueys were chosen for their ability to operate in hot and high environments and ease of maintenance. “They will reinforce the KDF’s air assault capability to deploy Kenyan Rangers and other quick reaction forces. They will provide the KDF with the capacity to deliver much-needed supplies to the front-line and to help save the lives of troops with vital medical evacuations. And, ultimately, they will help the KDF to take a major step forward in the fight against terrorism,” Godec said, implying the aircraft will be used for peacekeeping missions, with the African Union/UN mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and in securing the border with Somalia.
“The Hueys will bolster the KDF’s capacity to combat al-Shabaab, an effort that will bring about a more stable and peaceful East Africa,” Goded said.
The United States in early November donated $15 million (Sh1.5 billion) to Kenya to assist it in the war against terrorism and extremism.
Meanwhile, on 29 November the Kenya Defence Forces announced that the People’s Republic of China had donated equipment to the Ministry of Defence and published photos showing refrigerated trucks, bulldozers, recovery vehicles and fuel tankers painted in military green. The 36 vehicles were handed over by Dr Liu Xianfa, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya.