Following the deadly attack on a joint American-Kenyan base earlier this month, the Kenyan military just got several light scout attack helicopters.
More specifically, the Kenyan military received 12 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior scout attack helicopters.
The fuel tanks of the MD 530Fs can withstand direct hits from ammunition up to and including 7.62mm. Also the fuselage offers ballistic protection from small-arms fire to the crew. As far as their armament is concerned, the Cayuse Warriors can carry a heavy punch: their weaponry includes an FNH HMP400 Pod with M3P Heavy Machine Gun (the FN version of the venerable M2 Browning .50 caliber heavy machine gun) and an M260 Rocket Pod with 2.75” rockets.
According to the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the contract is worth approximately $253 million and includes, aside from the helicopters, 24 FNH HMP400 machinegun pods, 24 M260 rocket launchers, 4,032 M151 rockets, 1,536 2.75-inch M274 smoke signature warhead rockets and hundreds of thousands of .50 caliber ammo.
Currently, the Kenyan military is focused on defeating the al-Shabaab terrorist group within and without Kenya’s borders.
The MD 530Fs have a maximum cruising speed of 203 kilometers/hour (110 knots) and a maximum range of 435 kilometers (271 miles).
Their specifications make them ideal for counterinsurgency and close-air support (CAS) missions. They are also ideal for urban environments. And they might prove most useful in that capacity judging by past terrorist attacks in Kenya that took place in an urban environment.
In 2013, al-Shabaab terrorists attacked the Westgate shopping mall, killing 71 people and wounding more than 200. In 2015, al-Shabaab terrorists attacked the Garissa University College, resulting in the deaths of 148 students and faculty and the wounding of dozens more. Finally, in January 2019, al-Shabaab terrorist once more struck in an urban setting when they attacked the DusitdD2 office and hotel complex, killing 21 people and wounding dozens more before a lone Special Air Service (SAS) operator neutralized the treat.
Comparable to the vaunted AH/MH 6 Little Birds that have been serving the U.S. Special Operations community since the 1980s, the MD 530F Cayuse Warriors will provide the Kenyan military with an agile, fast, and versatile platform.
General Samson Mwathethe, the chief of the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF), said in a statement that “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. 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.”
The sale had been approved by the State Department back in 2017, but the process had begun a year before.