Kenya to get eight drones from the US

The Pentagon plans to provide eight small unarmed drones to Kenya to help combat Al Qaida and Al Shabaab in Somalia.

Kenya will get eight hand-launched Raven drones with sensors used to pinpoint targets, according to Pentagon documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Ravens are unarmed but can be used to identify targets for strikes using ground forces or armed aircraft. The drones are part of a new package of military assistance for key African partners.

"This assistance will help build the capacity of Kenyan national military forces to conduct CT (counterterrorism) operations by providing tactical unmanned aircraft systems and training," a Pentagon document said. "This assistance will improve the tactical effectiveness and operational reach of the Kenyan Defene Forces engaged in CT operations against Al Shabaab in Somalia."

The Ravens for Kenya are part of an initial $41.4 million (Sh3.5 billion) package of military aid that also includes trucks, communications gear and rifles for Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda.

The US provided Ravens to Uganda last year, according to officials and documents.

The US military has identified al Shabaab as a terrorist threat and has targeted some of the group's leaders in Somalia using drones and special forces. Officials said the new funds are meant to bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of key African allies in the region to go after the group and other al Qaeda supporters.