By Richard BumgardnerApril 25, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Al. -- Members of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Enterprise recently met with Maj. Gen. Thomas Chepkuto, deputy commander of the Kenyan Army, and his Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) delegation, at the second MD-530F Cayuse Warrior Helicopter Program Management Review, held in Huntsville, Alabama.
Bringing all the major ASAE organizations and partner force participants together under one roof, allowed for a problem-solving, collaborative environment. Problems identified could be solved here, or solutions formulated to fix issues before they impact delivery of the Light Scout Attack Helicopters, scheduled to start in May.
Bill Kaundart, the country program manager for Kenya at U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, took over the case in 2018, and said he is not surprised how smoothly it is progressing.
"All of us here representing (the U.S. government) know this is a significant case for Kenya," Kaundart said. "It shows their deliberate intent on protecting their borders against terrorist factions. I credit the facilitation between the program office at Aviation and Missile Command, our good relationship with MDHI Helicopter and the Kenyans being very proactive. All parties involved are paying very close attention to this case."
The case includes the sale of six helicopters, initial logistics support, weapons systems, ammunition, training and ground support equipment. According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency news release from May 2017, not only will the Kenya military benefit from the increased mobility and lethality of these helicopters, but these aircraft will also significantly enhance the Kenyan Army's modernization efforts and increase interoperability with the U.S. forces and other partners in the region.
Maj. Kamicha Gachoki, MD-530F Program Officer from KDF, said he was glad to see the program progressing so well and the role these helicopters will play in the security of his country.
"This program is just about the most important program for KDF because of the capability we will acquire with delivery of these aircraft that can impact operations both by day and by night," he said. "As you know, we are currently engaged in fighting the al-Shabaab in Somalia, and this equipment will not only be a force-multiplier but also seriously disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab that like to operate at night."
Maj. Jason Moore, a Security Cooperation Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, echoed that statement and has been with this case since it was first requested.
"From start to finish this is one of the most dynamic and impactful programs we are doing at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya," Moore said. "Considering the threat that they are currently facing in Somalia and in the bordering region and the close air support capabilities of the attack helicopter, this is going to be a major tactical benefit to the KDF."
All aircraft will be delivered with a full U.S. Army-awarded Airworthiness Release and are expected to be immediately put into combat against al-Shabaab and in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia.
"Our history of partnership and cooperation with U.S. Army is very important to us," Gachoki said. "Right now our common enemy is terrorism, which the KDF and U.S. Army are actively engaged in fighting. We might be fighting in different localities but the enemy is the same … its terrorism."