Kenya Air Force

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kenya Air Force
Jeshi la Anga la Kenya
Kenya Air Force
Kenya Air Force emblem
Founded 1 June 1964
Country Republic of Kenya
Branch Air Force
Part of Kenya Defence Forces
Command Headquarters Nairobi
Motto Tuko Imara Angani

Operation Linda Nchi
(16 October 2011 – June 2012)

AU Mission in Somalia
(June 2012 – Present)
Air Force commander Major General Samuel Thuita
Roundel Roundel of the Kenyan Air Force.svg
Flag Kenyan Air Force Flag.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Northrop F-5
Fighter Northrop F-5
Helicopter Mil Mi-171, Aerospatiale SA-330 Puma, Hughes MD 500
Interceptor Northrop F-5
Patrol Harbin Y-12
Trainer Scottish Aviation Bulldog, Short Tucano, Grob G 120
Transport de Havilland Canada DHC-5, Bombardier Dash 8, Fokker 70, Harbin Y-12

The Kenya Air Force (KAF) is the national aerial warfare service branch of the Republic of Kenya.

The main airbase operating fighters is Laikipia Air Base in Nanyuki, while Moi Air Base in Eastleigh, Nairobi is the headquarters. Other bases include Forward Operating BAse (FOB) Mombasa (Moi International Airport), FOB Mandera, FOB Wajir & FOB Nyeri (mainly helicopters/small planes). The air force does not own attack helicopters: all of Kenya's fleet of armed helicopters are operated by the Army's 50th Air Cavalry Battalion.


The Kenya Air Force was formed on 1 June 1964, soon after independence, with the assistance of the United Kingdom.

Former aircraft in service included De Haviland Chipmunks and Beavers (since 1974), six Hawker Hunter (bought from RAF, in operation from 1974–79), six BAC Strikemaster fighters (in operation from 1971, and 12 BAE Systems Hawk delivered in 1980. All these types have now been withdrawn.

From 1979–1982 President Daniel arap Moi used Air Force F-5 fighter jets to escort his flights in and out of the country; later commentators have pointed out that there was no threat justifying the waste of fuel and the difficult and complex requirements of the escort mission.[1]

After a failed coup by a group of Air Force officers on 1 August 1982, the Air Force was disbanded. Air Force activity was reconstituted and placed under tighter army control as the 82 Air Force. The Air Force regained its independent status in 1994.

On 10 April 2006 a KAF Harbin Y-12 crashed near Marsabit with 17 on board, of whom 14 died. It was carrying several local and national politicians; Bonaya Godana, a former minister, was among the casualties. The pilot in command was Major David Njoroge.

Since 1978, the F-5 has been the KAF's main air defense fighter. A total of 29 were delivered; 12 F-5E & 2 F-5F from USA, and 10 F-5E,3 F-5EM & 2 F-5F formerly in service with the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF). The ex RJAF aircraft were upgraded to F-5EM standard before being delivered to the Kenya Air Force. There was controversy over the purchase of the F-5s from Jordan, which were shipped to Kenya and assembled locally.[2] Currently a F-5 upgrade and procurement program is underway (10 F-5E, 2 F-5F, and 3 F-5EM from Jordan.[3]).

Aircraft inventory[edit]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Dates Notes
Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma  France transport helicopter SA 330G 14 -
Mil Mi-17  Russia transport helicopter Mi 17-1E,Mi-8MTV, 3 First seen publicly on 22 August 2010. 3 delivered, 1 crashed 1 mi 8 MTVfor vip delivered in mid-2012 [4]
Bombardier Dash 8  Canada transport DHC-8-103 3 Since 1990 [4]
de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo  Canada tactical transport DHC-5D only 3 are airworthy Since 1977. 15 Delivered [4]
Grob G 120  Germany basic trainer G 120A 6 [5]
Fokker 70  Netherlands VIP transport F70 1 - [4]
Harbin Y-12  People's Republic of China utility transport Y-12 11 Since 1997. One was converted for air patrol duty and was fitted with an MX-15 Special Camera Cessna grand caravan 208 ISR delivered for special ops [4]
Northrop F-5 Tiger II  United States fighter/trainer F-5E/EM/F-5F 17 F-5E, 4 F-5F [4]
Scottish Aviation Bulldog  United Kingdom trainer Bulldog 103/Bulldog 127 10 Since 1972 [5]
Short Tucano  United Kingdom trainer Tucano Mk 51 12 Since 1990. 13 Delivered. Some for counter insurgency operations

In addition to the Air Force, the police air wing operates 11 aircraft (including 3 Bell 206L Long Ranger, 3 Bell 212, 4 Mil Mi-17 Hip).

Former fleet[edit]

KAF F-5's Diamond formation over Nairobi, 29 January 2012.
Kenyan Northrop F-5 Tiger II being prepared for an exercise, 29 January 2012.
Tucano Mk.51 (ZH209) on display at Farnborough Airshow in September 1990 before being delivered to Kenya.
Two Harbin Y-12s conducting formation training.
Mil Mi-171E of the Kenya Air Force seen at Wilson Airport

Aircraft armament[edit]

Air defence equipment[edit]

Anti-aircraft equipment:


The following officers have been in command of the Kenya Air Force:[6]

  • 12 December 1964 Group Captain I S Stockwell CBE DFC RAF[7]
  • 22 February 1967 Group Captain F Rothwell DFC TD RAF
  • 9 August 1971 Group Captain David John Edwards CBE AFC RAF[8]
  • 17 April 1973 Colonel Dedan Gichuru[9]
  • 27 June 1980 Major General P M Kariuki
  • 1982 Major General Mohamoud Mohamed (as commander of the 82 Air Force)
  • 27 February 1986 Major General Dedan N Gichuru (as commander of the 82 Air Force)
  • 10 May 1989 Major General D K Wachira
  • 28 June 1994 Major General N L Leshan
  • 1 December 2000 Major General S K Muttai
  • 27 November 2003 Major General J W Karangi
  • 10 August 2005 Major General Harold M Tangai
  • 13 July 2011 Major General Joff Otieno
  • 30 July 2014 Major General Samuel Ng’ang’a Thuita

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Escorting Moi with fighter jets". 
  2. ^ The Nation, [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f
  5. ^ a b Hoyle Flight International 9–15 December 2014, p. 43.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "I S Stockwell". 
  8. ^ "D J Edwards". 
  9. ^ Hornsby, Charles (2012). Kenya: A History Since Independence. London/New York: I. B. Tauris. p. 231. ISBN 978-1-84885-886-2. , indicates Edwards tenure 1971–73, and Gichuru 1973–80.
  • Hoyle, Chris (9–15 December 2014). "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International 186 (5468): pp. 24–55. 

External links[edit]