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Kenya repulses Al Shabaab with aerial firepower

The Standard Digital News
Saturday, June 16, 2012

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Even though Kenya gives the impression that its military adventure in Somalia was precipitated by increased incidents of kidnapping of tourists, a look at how it has waged the campaign against the Somali militia group suggests a carefully and meticulously executed plan.

And to the surprise of many Kenyans, the country is rated as one of the best equipped in Africa, only surpassed by South Africa – and maybe Nigeria.

But the air force is ranked among the best equipped in the developing world, what with the acquisition of the latest Russian-made helicopter model being used in Somalia.

According to military Intelligence and Defence News magazine, Kenya has modernised its forces, which makes it the most modern in the region, hence the efficiency with which it has repulsed Al Shabaab without incurring heavy losses compared with the other troops deployed for the same purpose.
Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Burundi, without aerial firepower, have largely fought a classical warfare, with ground forces anchoring the onslaught.

In the process Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and Burundi, without a single fighter jet have jointly lost over 2,500 troops for the time they have been in Somalia, because the Al Shabaab forced them to fight a guerrilla war.

Kenya Defence Force (KDF) has lost 12 – five in direct combat and seven to accidents.

In a series of articles published in Intelligence and Defence News, military defence expert David Goldman says, “Kenya army’s 50-Air Calvary Division (ACB) has acquired the much dreaded ground attack helicopters from Russia. The 50-ACB obtained about 16 units of the dreaded ground attack MI-28 attack helicopters after the success of the unit in Somalia operation.”

The helicopters were acquired at the end of last year and used to ‘soften’ the militia fighters, especially smoking them out of their hideouts.

Training pilots
Mr Goldman says the Air Calvary has been instrumental in weakening Al Shabaab and rescuing ground forces under attack besides carrying out precise attacks on enemy troops. The Government ordred for more last year.

Russian and Kenyan experts are said to be assembling the MI-28 helicopters as pilots are trained on how to fly and engage enemies with the lethal attack helicopter.

The MI-28 is codenamed ‘Havoc’ by Nato owing to its versatility – an all-weather day-night military tandem two-seat anti-armour attack helicopter.
The commonest armament among the MI-28s is a pair of 8 Ataka missile racks along with 2 B-13L rocket pods, each able to carry 5 S-13 rockets.
Other rocket options include two B-8 rocket pods, each able to carry up to 20 S-8 rockets. The 30 mm chain gun is a staple amongst all MI-28 combat loads.

According to defense analysts Kenya defence forces are currently testing four units of the Hokum, Ka-50 gunship helicopter dreaded for its speed and precisions.

Nato says the intimidating, highly versatile and fast Kamov Ka-50 ‘Black Shark’ or ‘Hokum A’ is a deadly support attack helicopter.

KDF has acquired 16 units of the gunship helicopter that were commissioned for use at Laikipia Airbase, Kenya’s largest air base in February this year after their successful delivery.

In addition the Hokum gunship helicopters, Intelligence and Defence News reports that KDF also acquired fighter jets from France last October, just before Kenya deployed troops in southern Somalia.

Best fighter jets
The magazine says, “While the equipment was not directly linked to the operation in Somalia, the type of aircraft used to transport the equipment was quite large and could have been carrying parts of French made defense aircrafts.”

Rafale is reputed to be one of the best fighter jets Nato used during the ouster of former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi last year.

They replaced Mirage F1, manufactured by French aircraft makers, Dassault.



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