Kenya Air Force

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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
Role Aerial warfare
Size 152 Aircraft
Part of Kenya Defence Forces
Command Headquarters Nairobi
Motto(s) Tuko Imara Angani

Operation Linda Nchi
(16 October 2011 – June 2012)

AU Mission in Somalia
(June 2012 – Present)
Air Force commander Major General Francis Ogolla
Roundel Roundel of Kenya.svg
Flag Air Force Ensign of Kenya.svg
Aircraft flown
Fighter Northrop F-5
Helicopter Mil Mi-171, SA330 Puma, MD 500, Bell UH-1
Trainer Bulldog, Short Tucano, Grob G 120
Transport DHC-5, 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). In 2017 Jordan donated 2 confirmed AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters for the air force; these together with the Army's 50th Air Cavalry helicopters are controlled by the Joint Helicopter Command based at Embakasi Garrison.


The Kenya Air Force was formed on 1 June 1964, soon after independence, with the assistance of the United Kingdom.[1][2]

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 All these types have now been withdrawn.

From 1979–1982 President Daniel arap Moi used Northrop 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.[3]

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 defence fighter. A total of 29 were delivered: 12 F-5E & 2 F-5F from the 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,[4] Currently a F-5 upgrade and procurement program is underway for 10 F-5E, 2 F-5F, and 3 F-5EM from Jordan. The Kenya Air Force has taken delivery of 6 out of 8 Huey UH-1H helicopters.[5].

The US government approved a proposed foreign military sale for twelve Air Tractor AT-802L light-attack aircraft to the government of Kenya. As of August 2017, the Kenyan government has not yet signed a contract for the proposed sale.[6]

A Mil Mi-171E at Wilson Airport


Current inventory[edit]

A Kenyan Y-12
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Northrop F-5 United States fighter F-5E 17[7]
Cessna 208 United States surveillance / light transport 1[7]
Harbin Y-12 China transport 11[7]
Antonov An-28 Poland transport 2 on order[7]
DHC-5 Buffalo Canada utility / transport 4[7]
C-27J Spartan Italy transport 2 on order[8]
Bombardier Dash 8 Canada VIP 3[7]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 8[7]
Bell AH-1 United States attack AH-1F 2[9] donated by Jordan
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility / transport Mi-171 2[10]
Harbin Z-9 China utility 6[7]
Airbus H125M Europe utility 4[11]
SA 330 Puma France utility / transport 14[10]
MD 500 Defender United States light attack 530F 40 12 on order[7]
Trainer Aircraft
Northrop F-5 United States conversion trainer F-5F 4[7]
Short Tucano United Kingdom trainer Tucano 51 12[7] licence-built variant of the EMB-312
Grob G 120 Germany trainer 120A 6[7]
Bulldog T1 United Kingdom basic trainer 11[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Historical Background of the Kenya Air Force: Pre-Independence Period". Ministry Of Defence- Kenya. 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2016.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Historical Background of the Kenya Air Force: Independence and Post-Independence Period". Ministry Of Defence- Kenya. 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2016.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Escorting Moi with fighter jets".
  4. ^ The Nation, [1]
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "World Air Forces 2018". Flightglobal Insight. 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Treasury borrows Sh32bn for arms". Business Daily. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  8. ^ "Kenyan AH-1 Cobras coming from Jordan". Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  9. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 21". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  10. ^


  • Hoyle, Chris (9–15 December 2014). "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International. Vol. 186 no. 5468. pp. 24–55.

External links[edit]