Amina in US to seek approval of purchase of aircraft

Kenya is hoping that the US will finally approve the purchase of assorted military aircraft, four months after Nairobi placed the request.

This week, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed was in Washington to talk “contextualisation of America First policy”, arguing that the US should support Kenya in tackling terrorism without delay.

FIGHTING EXTREMISM

On Wednesday, she met Senator Bob Corker, the Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Mr Tom Shannon, the acting Deputy Secretary of State, and Under Secretary for Political Affairs and other US officials.

“Kenya shares the United States security concerns in the Horn of Africa including fighting violent extremism, stabilising Somalia and concluding the South Sudan peace process.

“Kenya is open to discussions on the new administration’s ideas on how to push forward this shared agenda,” the CS said in a dispatch from the Foreign Ministry on Friday.

STONEWALLING

Her trip came after the US designated parts of Somalia as a war zone, allowing US troops the flexibility to launch attacks against Al-Shabaab.

But it also came amid alleged ‘stonewalling’ by the US government in providing final details of the aircraft purchase, before the US Congress approves them.

In January, Kenya requested to buy 12 Air Tractor AT-802L and two AT-504 trainer aircraft, weapons, technical support and programme management for these equipment, all worth $418 million (about Sh43 billion).

The prime contractor will be L-3 Communications, Platform Integration Division in Waco, Texas.

A statement from the State Department supported the request, saying it was in line with US Foreign policy.

“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,” it said in January.

ITEMS OVERPRICED

The assorted aircraft were initially built for agricultural purposes and had been used to fight forest fires.

But after they were remodeled for military use, Kenya feels they are suited for using “precision munitions and cost effective logistics and maintenance”, and could supplement the F-5 aircraft used by the KDF.

The purchase, however, ran into controversy after US Congressman Ted Rudd claimed it had been overpriced, arguing that a company in his North Carolina state would sell it at half the money L-3 demanded.

Two weeks ago, Mr Rudd claimed the State Department was ‘stonewalling’ on the details after it delayed to respond to questions about the altered deal.

The US Air Force had written Kenyan on March 29 specifying the terms of an agreement.

Isha Ku Hay Alljubland Media

alljubbalandmedia@gmail.com


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