in Defence / Features

Why are the Cobras not striking?

Posted 20 June 2019 · Add Comment

Issues are arising surrounding the Kenya Air Force (KAF) Bell AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters, writes Jon Lake.

In October 2018, Kenya’s Daily Nation asked why the KAF’s recently acquired Cobras were not “out biting Al Shabaab”, or being used to support the country’s contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The KAF received a number of former Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) AH-1Fs (probably six) in 2017. Images and videos of an AH-1 in full KAF camouflage and markings being unloaded at Laikipia Air Base appeared online at the end of May 2017. And, in June 2017, a further video emerged showing the helicopter undertaking its first test flight after reassembly.
But, since then, the new Cobras have not flown any operational missions, despite increased tension on the border with Somalia, and despite continuing activity by Al Shabab insurgents.
The Daily Nation quoted a Kenyan Defence Forces spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Njuguna, as describing the lack of operational flying as “normal”, and as disputing claims that the helicopters had been grounded. He explained the lack of operational activity by saying that pilot training and conversion was still ongoing.
But the Daily Nation said that KAF officers had claimed that there was now a pool of qualified pilots who had successfully trained to fly the Cobras.
A range of other reasons have been postulated for the lack of operational flying, including a lack of spare parts and ‘appropriate ammunition’, while others have claimed that the aircraft are not airworthy, and that their allegedly poor condition is being hushed up by the military.
There were some reports that the Cobras delivered to Kenya were among 16 aircraft withdrawn from use in Israel in August 2013 because they were supposedly “unsafe to fly”, and transferred to Jordan in mid-2015. These aircraft were supposedly given to Jordan to be stripped to provide spare parts for the RJAF’s own AH-1s. But, in fact, the Israeli AH-1s were transferred for active use against Daesh, and the aircraft supplied to Kenya were, in any case, not ex-Israeli helicopters (which all seem to be accounted for), but were from the RJAF’s own long-term fleet.
One theory for the lack of activity is a turf war between the Kenya Air Force and the Army’s 50th Air Cavalry Division over which service will operate the new helicopters.
 

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Air Peace takes delivery of the first E2 for Africa

Air Peace, Nigeria and West Africa’s largest airline, took delivery of their first E195-E2 aircraft yesterday. The aircraft is now due to fly from Embraer’s facility in São José dos Campos to join the Air Peace fleet in Nigeria.

ACC Aviation consolidates expertise in one brand

ACC Aviation has unveiled a new logo and branding for 2021 that solidifies 36 months of significant transformation for the global aviation service provider under the leadership of CEO Phil Mathews.

Air travellers ready to take their next flight within 12 months

A Honeywell survey of almost 900 respondents across the Middle East, Turkey, and Central and Eastern Europe has revealed that despite reduced air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of travellers expect to fly again within

Lawyers advise Ethiopian Airlines not to accept Boeing settlement over 737 Max crash

U.S lawyers for Ethiopian Airlines have advised the carrier not to accept a settlement Boeing has offered regarding the fatal crash of a Boeing 737 MAX in 2019 seeing 157 people lose their lives, but instead to sue the manufacturer for

Aircraft Lightning Protection Market to reach $3.3 Bn by 2026

Aircraft Lightning Protection Market size valued at USD 3.09 billion in 2019 and will grow at a CAGR of 3.1% from 2020 to 2026. Favorable trends associated with the tourism sector will propel the industry growth, this is according to

Boeing reports fourth-quarter revenue of $15.3 billion

The Boeing Company has reported fourth-quarter revenue of $15.3 billion, reflecting lower commercial deliveries and services volume primarily due to COVID-19 as well as 787 production issues, partially offset by a lower 737 MAX

WDS SK2601090322
See us at
Aviation MENA 2021Aviation Africa 2021 BTNN