Kenya Air Force

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

Kenya Air Force
Jeshi la Anga la Kenya
Founded1 June 1964 (1964-06-01)
Country Kenya
BranchAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size152 Aircraft
Part ofKenya Defence Forces
Command HeadquartersNairobi
Motto(s)Tuko Imara Angani
EngagementsOperation Linda Nchi
(16 October 2011 – June 2012) AU Mission in Somalia
(June 2012 – Present)
Air Force commanderMajor General Francis Ogolla
Aircraft flown
FighterNorthrop F-5
HelicopterMil Mi-171, SA330 Puma, MD 500, Bell UH-1
TrainerBulldog, Short Tucano, Grob G 120
TransportDHC-5, Harbin Y-12

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 All these types have now been withdrawn.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 US, 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. Also early 2017 Kenya signed contract for 3 C 27j & 3 AW 139 to be delivered this year[6]


Current inventory

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 2[7]
Harbin Y-12 China transport 11[7]
DHC-5 Buffalo Canada utility / transport 4[7]-Retired
C-27J Spartan Italy transport 3 on order[7][8]
Bombardier Dash 8 Canada VIP 3[7]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 7[7]
Bell AH-1 United States attack AH-1F 3[9] donated by Jordan
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility / transport Mi-171 3-one for vip[7]
Harbin Z-9 China utility 6[7]
Airbus H125M Europe utility 9[7]
SA 330 Puma France utility / transport 9[7]
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 9[7] licence-built variant of the EMB-312
Grob G 120 Germany trainer 120A 5[7]
Bulldog T1 United Kingdom basic trainer 5[7]

See also


  1. "Historical Background of the Kenya Air Force: Pre-Independence Period". Ministry Of Defence- Kenya. 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  2. "Historical Background of the Kenya Air Force: Independence and Post-Independence Period". Ministry Of Defence- Kenya. 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  3. "Escorting Moi with fighter jets". Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  4. The Nation, Archived 16 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. Hoyle Flight International 4–10 December 2019, p. 48
  7. "Treasury borrows Sh32bn for arms". Business Daily. Archived from the original on 29 June 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  8. "Kenyan AH-1 Cobras coming from Jordan". Archived from the original on 28 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.


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