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On 23 January, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency revealed the potential sale of up to 12 Air Tractor AT-802L and two AT-504 trainer aircraft to Kenya, having earlier notified Congress of approval of the sale. Aircraft, weapons and technical support could bring the sale total to US$418 million.

The sale improves the “security of a strong regional partner who is a regional security leader undertaking critical operations against al-Shabaab and (a) 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 maximises the Kenyan Defence 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,” the DSCA said.

The aircraft, which will supplement Kenya’s ageing F-5 FREEDOM FIGHTERs, will enable the KDF to pre-position assets much closer to the area of conflict. According to manufacturer Air Tractor, the AT-802 is economical to operate, at around $400 a flight hour; for counter-narcotics missions, for instance, AT-802s required only 1.7 maintenance man-hours per flight hour.

Prime contractor will be L-3 Communications Platform Integration Division in Waco, TX.

Additional Air Tractor aircraft will provide Kenya with much needed capability for counter-insurgency strike in the continuing struggle against Al-Shabaab militants. (Photo: Air Tractor)

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