Kenya receives helicopters to fight Al-Shabaab

Kenya has acquired nine new helicopters from the United Arab Emirates in a bid to enhance the capabilities of its Police Air Wing.

The new choppers including two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters; one configured for VIP use and another for advanced mission operations were inspected by the country’s minister for Defense Raychelle Omamo.

Ms Omamo said the aircraft would be used “to support combat operations, search-and-rescue and medical evacuations, and escort heavy lift helicopters.”

Fennec, an Airbus AS350, is a single-engine light utility helicopter originally designed and manufactured in France by Airbus Helicopters. It is capable of anti-tank operations, air-to-air combat, ground support, utility transportation role, and training missions. It can also be pre-fitted with guns, rocket launchers.

The UAE Army Aviation Brigade and the Air Force Special Operations Command operate a number of AS550C3 Fennec helicopters. The country received the helicopters from Airbus in 2008.

Kenya will now join France, Singapore, Thailand, Australian, Brazil, Denmark and the UAE militaries, which are currently using the helicopter.

It is also the first African country to own this kind of combat helicopters, which entered the market in 1990.

The aircraft, with a grey paint scheme, was received in Nairobi early this month before they were moved to Nanyuki.

Kenya formally sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia in October 2011 after incessant attacks and kidnappings of civilians by Al-Shabaab within its territory.

A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the green light to join AMISOM, a decision that meant the treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.

Currently, Kenya has thousands of soldiers operating in southern Somalia.



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