in Defence / Features

Kenya takes ex-Emirati Fennecs for anti-insurgency ops

Posted 21 February 2019 · Add Comment

The Kenya Air Force (KAF) has taken delivery of nine Eurocopter AS550 Fennec light helicopters from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), writes Jon Lake.

They will boost the African air arm’s capabilities in its long-running campaign against Islamist Al Shabaab insurgents from neighbouring Somalia.
The aircraft join an unknown number of Bell AH-1 Cobras donated by Jordan, and newly purchased AgustaWestland AW139s and McDonnell Douglas Helicopters Inc MD530F Cayuse Warriors, joining an existing fleet of older MD500s.
The Fennecs were delivered to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before being reassembled and delivered to Laikipia Air Base in Nanyuki, where they were formally inducted into KAF service on September 14.
The induction of the Fennec helicopters was attended by the commander of the Kenya Air Force, Major General Francis Ogolla, the country’s Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Raychelle Omamo, and the UAE Ambassador to Kenya, Khalid Khalifa Abdullah Rashid Al Mu’alla.
The UAE received 13 AS550B3 Fennec helicopters from Airbus from 2001, and at least 18 armed AS550C3s. These were used by the joint aviation command’s 23rd group.
Six AS350B3s were transferred to Jordan in about 2005, before the more recent transfer of nine aircraft to Kenya.
The AS550C3 Fennec helicopter, now designated as the Airbus H125M, can be fitted with emergency flotation gear for operation over water, and can carry a range of armament and sensors, including rocket pods, machine guns or cannon pods, and under-nose electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) turrets.
In UAE service, the AS550C3 could carry the Turkish Roketsan Cirit laser-guided rocket, but it is not known whether this weapon has been supplied to Kenya.
Kenya has not neglected its fixed-wing aircraft fleet, and reportedly ordered three Leonardo Alenia C-27J Spartan transport aircraft in 2017, for delivery from 2019. These aircraft will replace the KAF’s elderly de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalos, about four of which remain in service (of 10 originally delivered). These serve with a transport squadron at Moi Air Base in Mombasa.
 

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