Kenya will soon be taking delivery of new AW139 helicopters from Leonardo Helicopters, with the aircraft being seen conducting test flights in Italy.
Photos emerged of two AW139s in Kenya Air Force markings undergoing test flights from Varese-Venegono Airport, Italy, in March and early April.
The Kenyan acquisition was revealed in June 2018 in a parliamentary report that stated an undisclosed number of AW139s were acquired through a Sh6 billion ($59 million) loan advanced to Kenya’s Treasury by Italy’s UniCredit SpA. Based on the cost, it is estimated that Kenya has ordered four AW139s.
Kenya also obtained a Sh20 billion ($196 million) loan from the same bank for three C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, also manufactured by Leonardo. The acquisitions were made between November 2017 and February 2018. The Spartans are expected to be delivered this year and replace four DHC-5 Buffalo transports.
The Kenyan National Police Service Air Wing already operates AW139s, having received two in June 2018 and one in April 2016 – the latter was subsequently lost in a crash in September 2016. The police air wing has been growing of late, and bolstered by the delivery of a Mi-17V-5 in March 2017 and an SW-4 in June 2018.
The Kenya Air Force will be new to the AW139, as it currently flies a squadron of SA330 and IAR330 Pumas and a squadron of UH-1H Huey II Helicopters. Other models in service include MD500s, AH-1F Cobras, Mi-171Es and Z-9Ws. Eight ex-United Arab Emirates AS550 Fennecs were delivered around September last year while six MD530Fs are on order from the United States.