Wed. Apr 24th, 2019

Defence team to visit US over Sh43bn deal

The Defence and Foreign Relations Committee will visit the United States to probe the Sh43 billion military aircraft deal.
Yesterday chairman Ndung’u Githenji cautioned against claims of any impropriety in the purchase, saying the procurement process is still ongoing.
“The committee will play its role in the public interest to make sure that Kenya gets value for the equipment. If it means visiting the America definitely we shall,” he said.
“It would be improper for anyone to impute impropriety motive on the process without evidence or facts and details of the arrangement.”
Kenya wants to buy 12 converted agricultural aircraft to boost the KDF war against al Shabaab. But the US Congress wants the deal stopped for further investigations, amid claims that it is highly inflated and fraudulent.
Congress says Kenya can obtain the aircraft from another company at half the cost.
On Tuesday, five US congressmen wrote to Kenya’s ambassador to Washington Njeru Githae asking him to advise Nairobi to reconsider the lucrative deal.
In the letter obtained by the Star, they noted that the prime contractor has no experience in converting agricultural aircraft into intelligence, surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft with precision strike capability.
“One of the aspect of the process that concerns us is whether any misrepresentations about capabilities have been made,” it reads.
Githenji said the committee will conduct due diligence, including lobbying the US Congress.
“This purchase is for the benefit of Kenyans in securing the region. We have for long been under capacitated and under-equipped in securing our defence space,” he told the Star in an interview.
“We want to assure Kenyans that as a committee we shall make sure that Kenya will get the best results out of the arrangement,” he added.
He said the bid by Kenya to acquire the military arms from the USA is part of the government’s efforts to enhance the capacity of the troops to counter insurgence from the Alqaeda linked alshabaab militant group.
Congressman Ted Budd is fighting to have the contract go to a company in his state.
The congressmen raise concern that the Defence Security Cooperation Agency is supporting a sale that requires the government of Kenya to pay more than twice what it would require to acquire the aircraft.
They say, with half the price, Kenya would opt to acquire aircraft from IOMAX USA, Inc, the only company currently producing a manned, weaponised ISR platform approved for export from the US.