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Mystery of Sh1.5 billion faulty air force jets

COUNTIES
By Moses Nyamori | July 18th 2018

A jet fighter: Did Kenya buy duds? [Courtesy]

Taxpayers may not get answers why the Government splashed Sh1.53 billion on seven defective military jets, which are being cannibalised for spare parts for other jets.

The Ministry of Defence yesterday told MPs that the purchase was a sensitive security matter and should be handled as classified information.

Media barred

Appearing before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, Principal Secretary Torome Saitoti insisted that the media be kicked out of the sitting before he could discuss the matter flagged by the Auditor General Edward Ouko.

But even after the Opiyo Wandayi-led team allowed the ministry to provide answers, the PS asked that he be given time to prepare a report to the committee.

In a one-line response obtained by The Standard, the PS cited security concerns in failing to make the procurement details public.

“The ministry views this as sensitive security matter and we are requesting that the issue be handled under classified category,” Mr Saitoti told the MPs.

The ministry bought seven jets in a fleet that cost the Government Sh1.5 billion ($15.3 million).

In his 2015/16 audit report, Mr Ouko said that upon inspection, experts at the Ministry of Defence found the jets to be defective.

The fighter jets were bought from Royal Jordanian Airforce through government-to-government negotiations.

“Records show that these aircraft were delivered, assembled and tested. However, an inspection undertaken by the ministry’s technocrats revealed a number of defects,” reads the report.

Spare parts

“Records further show that the ministry procurement aircraft spare parts at a cost of $12,956,827 (Sh1.3 billion) on unspecific date from a firm through a restricted tendering instead of procuring directly from the specific aircraft manufacturer,” adds the report.

Another inspection done in June 2016 at Laikipia Air Base revealed that the defects identified at the time of the delivery of the aircraft had not been rectified.

Audit of fuel and servicing records further indicated that the seven aircraft had not been operational from the time they were procured. 

The committee expressed concern that the ministry was trying to use security reasons as a cover to audit queries in the ministry.

Background

In September 2016, King Abdullah II Jordan visited Kenya after which http://www.president.go.ke posted t a story to the effect that President Uhuru Kenyatta and King Abdullah II had said that Kenya and Jordan would forge stronger military ties to combat emerging security threats.

‘The two leaders made the commitment in Nairobi where King Abdullah joined the Kenyan leader to witness joint exercises conducted by elite units from the Kenya Defence Forces and the Royal Jordanian Armed Forces.”

Went on the post: “King Abdullah is on his first official visit to Kenya since he became King. The Exercise Swift Eagle, conducted at the Embakasi Garrison, simulated threats posed by terrorism and how to destroy them. Two elite units from KDF – Special Forces and Ranger Regiment – were joined by the Quick Reaction Force from the Jordanian military in displaying tactics to deal with conventional and asymmetric war threats. President Kenyatta said the joint exercises were aimed at creating and improving interoperability between Kenyan and Jordanian forces.”

According to the website, The Head of State thanked Jordan for its military cooperation with Kenya that had seen more than 60 Kenya Air Force officers trained by the Jordanian military. Another 38 would have trained by February next year (2017), it reported.

The jet purchase appears to be part of a Mutual Defence Cooperation agreement between Kenya and the Jordanian Kingdom, which President Uhuru talked of. “

He said: “I would also like to register our appreciation of the assistance the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has extended to our Defence Forces, enhancing our Air Force and Air Crew capacity through a training program covering diverse skills.”

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