Top Stories / National
Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017 13:00 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Kenyans have got a glimpse on the scale of military spending under the Jubilee government following the release of documents showing U.S government approval for a weapons package that Kenya requested recently. The U.S. government has given the greenlight for the purchase of the set of military aircraft that will cost Sh40 billion.
The State Department yesterday approved the purchase of the equipment, which will now be procured for the Kenya government by a yet-to-be-identified weapons supplier. “The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Kenya for Air Tractor aircraft with weapons, and related support. The estimated cost is $418 million,” said a press update from the Department which handles U.S. government foreign policy.
The media release indicated that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Defence, had delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale a day before the Trump administration took office. It shows that Kenya had “requested a possible sale of up to twelve (12) Air Tractor AT- 802L and two (2) AT-504 trainer aircraft, weapons package, technical support and program management. The total estimated program cost is $418 million.”
The aircraft and weapons package will, however, not contribute to a modernization of Kenya’s defence forces, as the memo indicates that their acquisition “does not alter the basic military balance in the region.” The AT - 802L is designed as an agricultural aircraft, used in activities like spraying pesticides on crops, but can be adapted into fire-fighting, according to internet descriptions of the aircraft. The rest of the package comprises of weapons and training in their use.
“This proposed sale contributes to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a strong regional partner who is a regional security leader undertaking critical operations against al-Shabaab and troop contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“The proposed sale provides a needed capability in the ongoing efforts to counter al-Shabaab. The platform maximizes the Kenyan Defense Force's Close Air Support (CAS) ability because it is a short-field aircraft capable of using precision munitions and cost effective logistics and maintenance,” it said.
With the approval, the Kenya government will now be expected to appoint a defence contractor to procure the weapons on its behalf.