Africa Defense Forum
ADF is a professional military magazine published quarterly by U.S. Africa Command to provide an international forum for African security professionals. ADF covers topics such as counter terrorism strategies, security and defense operations, transnational crime, and all other issues affecting peace, stability, and good governance on the African continent.

Sale Helps Put Eyes in the Sky

The Deal Sends U.S. Helicopters to the Kenya Defence Forces


The United States has sold six MD 530F helicopters to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) that can engage in attack, scout and close air support missions for the East African nation.

“This demonstrates how the U.S. remains fully committed to providing relevant and timely training and equipment to bolster the KDF capabilities,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael D. Turello, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The U.S. delivered the six MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters to the Kenya Army’s Joint Helicopter Command at Embakasi Barracks in Nairobi at a handover ceremony on January 23, 2020.

Gen. Samson Mwathethe, chief of Kenya Defence Forces, greets U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael D. Turello during the handover.

“A partnership with the Kenya Defence Forces is one of our most important partnerships in Africa and keystone in East Africa,” Turello said. “We are grateful for your continued leadership against forces that wish to do us harm.”

The process of selling the helicopters began in 2016 and gained U.S. State Department approval in 2017. The sale underscores both nations’ commitment to peace and stability in East Africa. 

The total deal includes 12 of the helicopters; six will be delivered to the KDF later. The aircraft have been weaponized to include 24 heavy machine gun pod 400 systems, 24 M260 rocket launchers, 4,032 M151 rockets, 1,536 M274 smoke-signature warhead rockets and 400,000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

The deal also includes navigation and communications equipment, training, contractor logistics support, technical assistance from the U.S. government, and support for structural and weapons systems spare parts, among other things, DSCA said. The total package cost is estimated at $253 million.

Manufacturer MD Helicopters says the MD 530F has a maximum cruising speed of nearly 250 kilometers per hour and can approach altitudes of just more than 4.8 kilometers. Each helicopter is more than 7 meters long and can accommodate two crew members on the controls and two passengers in the cabin behind them.  

“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 Kenya Defence Forces,” Gen. Samson Mwathethe, chief of the KDF, said at the handover ceremony. “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.”  

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