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U.S. approves Air Tractor AT-802L COIN aircraft sale to Kenya
September 22, 2017
Photo credit: Air Tractor

U.S. approves Air Tractor AT-802L COIN aircraft sale to Kenya

The U.S. State Department has approved a USD $418 million sale of 12 Air Tractor AT-802L and 2 AT-504 trainers alongside a maintenance, logistics, and weapons package to Kenya.

As per the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)’s news release, the Air Tractor AT-802L sale “provides a needed capability in the ongoing efforts to counter al-Shabaab” and “maximizes the Kenyan Defence Force’s Close Air Support (CAS) ability.”

The DSCA notes that the AT-802Ls will ‘supplement’ Kenya’s legacy Northrop F-5E Tiger II fleet, but the Air Tractor’s ability to take-off and land from short-field will enable Kenya to deploy these aircraft closer to its counterinsurgency (COIN) theatre.

Notes & Comments:

The DSCA notice did not disclose the munitions Kenya’s AT-802Ls will use, but it did note that the aircraft will be “capable of using precision munitions.” Considering the COIN objective, Kenya’s AT-802Ls may be armed with laser-guided bombs and missiles, most notably the Paveway and Hellfire range.

The AT-802U has a maximum payload of 4,100 kg across up to 15 hardpoints under the wings and fuselage. It is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turboprop with a Hartzell propeller. According to Air Force Technology, the AT-802U has a top speed of 394 km/h, cruising speed of 333 km/h, and maximum range (with external fuel tanks) of 2,414 km. On average, an AT-802U costs less than USD $400 per hour to fly.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, platforms such as the AT-802U have made considerable inroads among the region’s air arms, especially in the COIN and CAS profile. This has caused a measure of bifurcation in the combat aircraft industry with turboprop platforms seemingly drawing prospective entry-level fast-jet customers. However, the light attacker space is also becoming increasingly saturated, with present players – i.e. Air Tractor and Embraer – poised to potentially meet Paramount Group and Turkish Aerospace Industries with the Mwari and Hürkuş C, respectively.

  • mazhar

    This aircraft is being sold to Kenya at whopping $34.8 Million a piece. $418/12= $34.8. Very expensive package. Brazilian Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano is being sold at 9 to 14 million. Operational cost is almost par to the tractor. Turkish Hurkus could have been a cheaper option too.

  • Steve

    Poor African countries doing the Wests dirty work, AND paying huge sums for something akin to P-51 mustang from WWII. This should have been given for free. How stupid can you get. Same pattern repeated all over the world

    • RA

      The answer is: Corruption and bribery. I bet some Kenyan high-ups are laughing on their way to the bank

      • Steve

        Probably the case. Corrupt officials in Third World countries plundering their own countries is a relatively common occurrence unfortunately.

  • Ashwin

    Americans are rip offs when it comes to weapons

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