US delivers attack helicopters to Kenya days after Al-Shabaab raid
NAIROBI, Kenya - Kenya commissioned six MD 530F helicopters on Thursday, which would be used to boost regional security and fight against Al-Shabaab, Chief of Defense Forces General Samson Mwathethe said.
Another six MD-530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters are expected to be delivered at another date, U.S. Africa Command said in a news release Saturday.
The delivery comes just a fortnight after Al-Shabaab raid at Camp Simba, which hosts both KDF and US Marine, AFRICOM had said.
Stephen Townsend, the AFRICOM commander, said the helicopters will be used to address security and stability in the region.
“The arrival of these helicopters underscores our commitment to our Kenyan defense partners and our shared collective efforts to address security and stability in the region,” he said.
There US citizens died after the raid, which also left at least six aircraft dismembered, AFRICOM had said, adding that "the attack was repulsed in time".
Gen. Mwathethe, who is set for retirement later on this year, said the delivery of the helicopters is part of the modernization journey of the military.
Kenya Air Force, which is responsible for air surveillance, is expected to use the helicopters, with immediate deployment to Somalia being one of the plans.
“This event is not only a culmination of the journey that began in 2016 but also a milestone for our Air Force to modernize the Kenyan Defense Forces,” Mwathethe said.
“Among other capabilities, the integration of the MD 530F into our inventory will go a long way in enhancing our capacity to operate in the contemporary security environment, and we appreciate that this achievement is underpinned by cooperation with our allies,” he added.
Lieutenant General Walter Raria, the Commander Kenya Army, said the helicopters will also be used to perform services related to civilians.
The delivery, he added, comes at the time the country is desperately in need of them to boost security within the country and in the neighborhood.
"The helicopters have come at a time when we most need them in our operations both within our borders and beyond,” he said.
"The multi-purpose armed helicopter can be deployed in tactical, reconnaissance and transport operations.”
The US is a major partner to Kenya in the fight against Al-Shabaab, and the two countries have deployed troops to troubled Somalia.
Kenya has a total of 3,000 troops in Somalia who are responsible for boosting security at Jubaland. The US has 500 soldiers in Mogadishu.