Washington: The Pentagon is planning to provide small unarmed drones to Kenya, as a part of a new package of military assistance for key African partners to combat al Qaeda and Al Shabaab militants in the region.
According to Pentagon documents, Kenya will reportedly get eight hand-launched Raven drones with sensors used to pinpoint targets, which are unarmed but can be used to identify targets for strikes using ground forces or armed aircraft.
“This assistance will help build the capacity of Kenyan national military forces to conduct CT (counterterrorism) operations by providing tactical unmanned aircraft systems and training,” the Wall Street Journal quoted the Pentagon document, as stating.
“This assistance will improve the tactical effectiveness and operational reach of the Kenyan National Defence Forces engaged in CT operations against al Shabaab in Somalia,” it added.
The Ravens for Kenya are part of an initial USD 41.4 million package of military aid that also includes trucks, communications gear and rifles for Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda.
The Raven, which weighs 4.2 pounds and has a wingspan of 4.5 feet, is widely used by US troops in Afghanistan, the report said.
The US military has identified Al Shabaab as a terrorist threat and has also targeted some of the group`s leaders in Somalia using drones and special forces. Officials said the new funds are meant to bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of key African allies in the region to go after the group and other al Qaeda supporters.