Kenya has 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 US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 2 May announced that the US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Kenya for the helicopters, with the DSCA notifying Congress of the possible sale on 1 May.
The deal would include the helicopters, to be supplied by MD Helicopters, as well as 24 Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP) 400 systems; 24 M260 rocket launchers; 4 032 M151 rockets; 1 536 2.75-inch M274 smoke signature warhead rockets; and 400 000 rounds of .50 calibre ammunition.
Also included are communications and navigation equipment, contractor logistics support, training, US Government technical assistance, airframe and weapon system spare parts support, Contractor Field Service Representative (CFSR) support, and Special Assigned Airlift Mission (SAAM) flight delivery support.
“This proposed sale contributes to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a strong regional partner who is a regional security leader, undertaking critical operations against al-Shabaab, and a troop contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM),” the DSCA said.
“The proposed sale of the MD 530F helicopters, weapons, ammunition, support items and technical support will advance Kenya’s efforts to conduct scout and attack rotary wing aircraft operations in support of their AMISOM mission. The MD 530F will also replace Kenya’s aging MD500 fleet, which is the current reconnaissance platform supporting Kenyan ground forces. This sale will significantly enhance the Kenyan Army’s modernization efforts and increase interoperability with the US Armed Forces and other partners in the region. Additionally, a strong national defence and dedicated military force will assist Kenya in its efforts to maintain stability in East Africa.”
The MD 530F as an evolution of the OH-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter that goes back to the Vietnam War. It is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C30 turboshaft engine producing 317 kW at takeoff and giving a cruise speed of 248 km/h with a maximum range of 430 km and a service ceiling of 5 700 m. The helicopter can carry a 980 kg external load.
The armed MD 530F has been deployed by the Afghan Air Force since 2011.