, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 2 – The United States Government on Friday handed the first six of eight helicopters donated to Kenya, to aid in the fight against terrorism.
The Bell Huey II helicopters valued at $106 million were handed over to the Kenya Air Force in the presence of the Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe by American Ambassador Robert Godec in Nanyuki.
“The United States values the initiative Kenya has taken to strengthen its capabilities in order to help build a more peaceful and secure Kenya and East Africa region,” Godec said.
He acknowledged that KDF has made great sacrifices on front lines along the Kenya-Somalia border and as an integral part of AMISOM, as well as in other crucial regional peacekeeping operations.
“We are proud to be your committed partners in these efforts. As President Obama said during his visit to Kenya last year, we’re going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fight against terrorism for as long as it takes.”
The Huey II represent the United States’ largest single security cooperation initiative ever undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is an initiative that was Kenyan-led, originating in the Kenya National Military Strategy and the White Paper on military cooperation with the United States, signed by General Jeremiah Kianga in June 2010,” Godec said.
“The vision outlined then – to strengthen Kenya’s military capabilities and increase security cooperation between our two nations – remains the same today.”
He said the helicopters were specifically chosen for their exceptional capacity to operate in hot and high-elevation environments, while being rugged enough to endure extended operations with minimal maintenance.
Godec expressed confidence that the helicopters, in addition to the accompanying training and maintenance programs, would be a valuable addition to the KDF’s fleet.
“They will provide the KDF with the capacity to deliver much-needed supplies to the front-line and to help save the lives of troops with vital medical evacuations.”
The envoy said the military cooperation with Kenya was one of the deepest and most important security relationships for the United States in all of Africa.
“Together we conduct public health research to identify and counter infectious disease threats. We work with local communities to combat extremist messaging of terrorist groups and strengthen the respect for human rights.”
He reaffirmed that the United States would remain Kenya’s steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
“The Hueys will bolster the KDF’s capacity to combat Al Shabaab, an effort that will bring about a more stable and peaceful East Africa.”