Military analysts and experts have raised questions about the potential impact military weapons systems that Kenya has been cleared to purchase from the US for use against fighting the Al-Shabaab insurgency in the country.
It has emerged that Kenya could be spending up to $671 million (Sh67.1 billion) to purchase the equipment that include a dozen of attack helicopters and a number of weaponised agricultural aircraft.
“Although Kenya has acknowledged a lack of airstrike capacity, we do not know what the immediate impact of these planes will be,” said Dr Nan Tian, an arms researcher with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) as quoted by Nation.
The sale deal includes temporary provision to Kenya of specialists from the respective US contractors to help with training and technical matters.
But Tian questions whether Kenyan pilots will be trained sufficiently to fly the MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters and Air Tractor AT-802L aircraft.
The experts further said that the effectiveness of the military system in combating conditions in Somalia remained unclear. “These weapons systems are slow-moving and only lightly (if any) armored. They are vulnerable to small-arms fire,” Dr Hansen wrote in an email to the Sunday Nation .
Another expert, Abdulllahi Boru who is an analyst for Horn of Africa security said that enhanced aerial firepower will not in itself be decisive in efforts to subdue al-Shabaab.
“A fully functioning Somali National Army, the state’s capacity to provide services” and other factors are also vital for the campaign against the Islamist militants,” Boru said.