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US-made light attack helicopter gunship MD 530F that crashed at about 10am in Kithyoko, Masinga area, Machakos County. [Courtesy]

Two soldiers were killed yesterday when a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) chopper crashed in Kithyoko, Masinga area, Machakos County. 

The US-made light attack helicopter gunship MD 530F crashed at about 10am. The cause of the crash was not immediately established.

The chopper is among the six helicopter gunships that the Kenya Army Aviation acquired in January this year.

They were part of an initial order of 12 light attack and reconnaissance helicopters that were meant to enhance the firepower of the Kenya Defence Forces in the wake of sustained attacks by Al Shabaab militants.

SEE ALSO: KDF probes aircraft crash in Somalia after 10 soldiers injured

Congress approval

The helicopters were acquired from the United States through the US Foreign Military Sales programme.

The MD 530F planes are part of the $253 million (Sh25.5 billion) arms deal that Nairobi signed with Washington, and which got the US Congress approval in May 2017.

The six helicopter gunships were handed over at an event in Nairobi attended by US Army Major General Michael Turello, the commanding general of the Combined Joint Task Force in the Horn of Africa.

US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter was also present.

SEE ALSO: KDF soldier who died in helicopter crash laid to rest

Former Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces Gen Samson Mwathethe received the helicopters at the Joint Helicopter Command in Embakasi, Nairobi.

"Kenya is currently involved in operations against terrorist organisations, notably the Al Shabaab in Somalia, as part of Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and along the Kenya-Somalia border," said Lt Gen Koipaton.

The purchase of the helicopters, fixed with contemporary airborne and armament systems, is part of KDF’s modernisation programme funded by the Ministry of Defence.

Under the earlier US deal with Nairobi, the 12 MD 530F weaponised helicopters were to be supplied together with 24 heavy machine gun pods, 24 HMP400 machine gun pod systems, 24 M260 rocket pods and 4,032 M151 high-explosive rockets.

Kenya will also get logistics support, training and technical assistance, spare parts and field service support.

SEE ALSO: Mutua reshuffles county cabinet, chief officers

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KDF Chopper crash MD 530F Kithyoko Machakos County
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