By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – Washington Tuesday approved a $418 million weapons and combat aircraft deal with Kenya to boost the war against al-Shabaab amid claims by African politicians that the continent is not on the new U.S. president’s radar.
Under the deal, Kenya’s Defense Department will purchase 12 Air Tractor AT-802Ls and two AT-504 Trainer aircraft and an assortment of weapons which will help the Kenyan military fight the Somali-based, al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab terror group.
The U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement that it had notified the U.S. Congress of the aircraft and weapons sale on Jan. 19.
“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 (AMISOM),” the DSCA said.
Al-Shabaab militants have vowed to carry out intensified attacks in the East African nation of Kenya unless the country pulls its military forces out of war-torn Somalia. Their bloodiest attack in April 2015 claimed the lives of more than 140 students at Garissa University.
The new aircraft are set to set to aid Kenya’s F-5 jet fighters in the war against Somali militants. Last week, before his inauguration, President Donald Trump’s transition team asked why the war against al-Shabaab hadn’t been won 10 years after it started.