The Sh683 million AgustaWestland helicopter has officially been handed over to the National Police Service and is expected in the skies from Thursday.
The AW139 helicopter from Italy is a 15-seater suitable for search and rescue missions, maritime patrol, law enforcement and VIP as well as corporate transport, among other uses.
It has a camera and a rotational Trakkabeam searchlight that allows for day and night patrols.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaiserry said the helicopter, which can fly up to an altitude of 8,130 feet, will be used mainly during emergencies, especially by the General Service Unit’s (GSU) Recce Squad.
“Officers can now conduct aerial patrols, search and rescue operations and also support the forces on ground,” Mr Nkaiserry said.
The 16.8-metre helicopter, with a rotor diameter of 13.7 metres, has adjustable seats that can accommodate eight VIPs.
Italian engineers who are expected to be in the country in the next six months said 15 passengers can be accommodated in three rows.
The aircraft is also fitted with a retractable tricycle landing gear and can go up to a speed of 193 mph.
The CS spoke during the handing over ceremony at the airport which was also attended by the Italian Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Mauro Massoni, and the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet.
The airwing now has four helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft expected to enhance the police’s capability.
The CS also announced the government is in the process of acquiring anti-riot vehicles for the police to minimise risks in case of violent riots.
He however assured Kenyans that they are free to picket as long as they do not turn violent. “This is part of the efforts to equip and modernise the police service. More officers will also be recruited with some expected to report to various training colleges soon,” said the CS.
He said once the UN police to civilian ratio is achieved, subsequent recruitment of police officers will be dictated by the demand.
Mr Nkaiserry added that two other MI-17 helicopters that were being refurbished are ready and are expected in the country next week.
The helicopters, registration numbers 5YSTA and 5YSFA, had been taken to the Czech Republic for overhauls.
Another MI-17, registration number 5Y-EDM, is also to be taken for a complete overhaul, the minister said.