US delivers attack helicopters to Kenya following attack on Manda Bay

The U.S. delivered six attack helicopters to Kenyan forces on Jan. 23 following an al-Shabab raid on the military base at Manda Bay, Kenya, that killed three Americans.

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 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,” Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of AFRICOM, said in the news release.

“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,” Gen. Samson Mwathethe, the chief of the KDF, said in the news release.

The U.S. State Department approved a possible foreign military sale of a dozen of the small light attack helicopters in 2017.

The sale, estimated at $253 million dollars, included 12 MD-530F helicopters, 24 heavy machine gun pods; 24 M260 rocket launchers, 4,032 M151 rockets, 1,536 2.75-inch M274 smoke signature warhead rockets and 400,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

“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-Shabab, and a troop contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia,” the DSCA said in the 2017 news release announcing the potential sale of the light attack helicopters.

The new MD-530F attack helicopters will slowly replace Kenya’s aging MD-500 utility helicopters, which provide reconnaissance support for Kenyan ground forces.

“The integration of the MD-530F into our inventory will go a long way in enhancing our capability to operate and continue our security involvement, and we appreciate this achievement by cooperation with our allies," Mwathethe said, according to the news release.

On Jan 5, al-Shabab militants, a extremist group in East Africa with ties to al-Qaida, launched a brazen attack on an airfield in Manda Bay, Kenya, killing three Americans including one service member, Army Spc. Henry “Mitch” Mayfield Jr.

AFRICOM deployed a Marine Raider team to help beat back the al-Shabab militants. Soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division were also deployed.

“While numbers are still being verified, it is estimated that several dozen al-Shabaab fighters were repelled,” AFRICOM said in a Thursday press release. “Because of the size of the Kenyan base, clearance and security operations continued for several more hours to ensure the entire base was secure.”

The U.S. has also supplied MD-530s to Afghan forces, where the attack helicopter is used for scouting, reconnaissance and air support for ground forces.

“In getting the MD-530 aircraft we are proving ourselves as an effective force multiplier on the battlefield,” Mwathethe said in a news release. “The successful delivery of these assets could not have come at a better time for us.”

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