The Kenyan military will now receive six new US-made light attack helicopter gunships part of an initial order of 12 light attack and reconnaissance helicopters by December, a US manufacturer said on Friday.
The planes are part of the Ksh25 billion ($253 million) arms deal that Nairobi signed with Washington, which got the United States Congress approval in May 2017.
The six MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD530F Cayuse Warrior Scout and light-attack platforms were set to be delivered between April and August.
The Arizona-based US manufacturer MD Helicopters did not provide reasons for the delay in delivery to Kenya.
“Kenya will receive all six of the MD Helicopters Inc MD 530F Cayuse Warrior scout and light-attack platforms it ordered in 2018 by the end of this year, the manufacturer confirmed on September 13,” UK-based defence magazine IHS Jane's Defence Weekly said in an update on Monday.
The MD 530Fs will replace the MD 500 platforms that are flown by the 50th Air Cavalry Battalion of the Kenya Airforce and will constitute the core of the reconnaissance equipment supporting ground forces.
Kenya has consistently upgraded its military hardware in recent years, with Nairobi’s arms orders, stoking fears of an arms race in the region.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration raised its spending on the armed forces to Ksh114.2 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2018 to stand above neighbouring Ethiopia and Uganda combined,” Nan Tian, a researcher on arms and military expenditure programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute told the Business Daily.
The new acquisitions signal President Kenyatta’s resolve to continue upgrading Kenya’s military capabilities despite Kenya’s recent push for austerity.
“Not only does this bring peace, security and stability to a neighbouring state with which we share deep historic bonds; it also provides our nation with safety and security from terror groups and other asymmetrical threats,” the President said at the Recruits Training School in Eldoret—Kenya's rift valley—last week.