The Department of Defence is set to procure 118 Armored Personnel Carriers from Turkey.
The move is aimed at ensuring maximum survivability of its troops as they tackle the al Shabaab militia in Somalia.
KDF Spokesperson Col Zipporah Kioko told the Star DoD is finalising the deal with a Turkish firm to bring in the 118 high-performance APCs.
Kioko told the Star that the deal is at an advanced stage and that procurement of the APCs was on a need basis to provide protective mobility for troops wherever they are deployed.
The Star has established that it will cost the taxpayer an estimated Sh7.7 billion for the government to purchase the more than 118 APCs through the Export Credit Agency.
The current APC fleet in the KDF consists of Puma M26-15, WMZ 551BSI, Mamba MK5, Bastion and CS/VP 14, all introduced into service between 2010 and 2019.
All of them have been deployed in the country and in Somalia to address security threats but a significant number has been rendered inoperable due to the changing threat environment.
“The Kenya Army thus made a critical assessment and established that the contemporary operating environment has evolved significantly with major threats to the APCs being Vehicle Borne IEDs (VBIEDs), directional IEDs and IEDs reinforced with complex ambushes,” Kioko said.
She said as a result, they developed User Specifications Requirements (USSR) that integrate higher levels of force protection which guided the procurement of the HIZIR 4×4 Tactical Wheeled Armoured Vehicle.
The acquisition was cleared by DoD’s procurement board meeting after it approved the sourcing of the HIZIR Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAPs) Armored Personnel Carriers (APC).
Three firms had applied for the tender but only the Turkish firm Katmerciler HIZIR met the user specifications.
The two other firms are from South Africa and North America respectively.
The Katmerciler HIZIR is a 4×4 Tactical Wheeled Armoured Vehicle designed and optimised for high performance under extreme operational conditions.
The APC has a proven track record in Syria where the Turkey forces operate and face similar threats as KDF troops face in Somalia.
The vehicle has a high level of ballistic and mine protection. It is agile, dynamic, versatile, low maintenance and easy care platform.
It was unveiled in unveiled in November 2016 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the 3rd High-Tech Port expo of Turkey’s Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MUSIAD).
Tested in the Netherlands and certified by NATO, the vehicles can be used in various configurations such as combat vehicle, command control vehicle, CBRN vehicle, weapon carrier (easy integration of various weapon systems), ambulance vehicle, border security vehicle and reconnaissance vehicle.
The HIZIR is fitted with a Turkish-made ASELSAN SARP turret which provides a perfect match for integration onto tactical vehicles, fixed surveillance posts, towers and critical infrastructures.
Depending on the operational requirements, SARP can be equipped with 12.7mm machine gun, 40mm automatic grenade launcher or 7.62mm machine gun.
The SARP turret has advanced capabilities and options such as Fire-on-the-move capability, Day and night imaging, automatic target tracking, Laser Range Finder for accurate ballistics, Last round warning and Manuel back-up.
The conventional Hizir has 9 gun ports.
The vehicle is also equipped with a smoke grenade launcher on the top of the vehicle.
The Katmerciler HIZIR can carry a total of 9 personnel with the driver and commander at the front and 7 people at the rear on individual seats. The engine is located at the front of the vehicle.
However, the vehicle will deviate from this as it is to be modified to meet the Kenya Army specifications.
Al Shabaab’s primary goal in Somalia is to topple the government of the day and establish an Islamic emirate within the country guided by a strict reading of Shariah law.
The group’s first leader, Aden Hashi Ayro, received training in Afghanistan, and he modeled Al Shabaab’s principles after those of the Taliban.
According to the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), the group has carried out punishments such as amputating the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery in territories under its control.
The group also bans items and activities such as music, videos, shaving, and bras.
Al Shabaab opposes the presence of foreign troops in Somalia, chiefly the African Union’s peacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM, which is supported by the United Nations and European Union.
As part of its quest to establish a Somali state based on Islamist principles, Al Shabaab seeks to dislodge AMISOM and other foreign military interventions from the country.
In addition to its domestic goals, Al Shabaab has increasingly framed the Somali civil war as part of a global jihadi movement.
Al Shabaab has launched international attacks, including in Kenya and Uganda, and it has issued threats against other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
They began operations in 2006 in Mogadishu as a splinter group of the Islamic Courts Union-ICUIN 2014, the group was said to have between 7,000 and 9,000 militants.
The Kenya Defence Forces troops in Somalia have lost dozens of its soldiers to the militia.
The group is fighting hard to be ahead of the troops in terms of weaponry and ammunition.
But the HIZIR is designed on a V-hull monocoque chassis to increase vehicle and crew survivability by deflecting an upward directed blast from a landmine or IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) away from the vehicle.
All the windows of the vehicle are built to withstand the firing of small arms 7.62mm machine gun and hand grenade fragments.
The Katmerciler HIZIR is powered by a Cummins ISL turbocharged 6 cylinders inter-cooled diesel engine which has a displacement of 8.9 liters and develops 400 hp (298 KW) at 2100 rpm.
It has a maximum speed of 110 km/h and a range of 700 km. The vehicle has fully Independent Suspension with Coil Spring and Shock Absorber.
Recovery Winch, Gun Turret, Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS), Spare wheel, CBRN Air Filter System, Automatic Fire Suppression System, Intercom System, GPS Navigation.
The Hızır has attracted a great deal of attention as a tactical wheeled armored combat vehicle with the most powerful engine in its class in the Turkish defense industry.
Katmerciler was established in the year 1985 and is an innovative, pioneer and leader company of the vehicle-top-equipment sector in Turkey with an experience of more than 30 years.
Having the widest range of products in its sector with the production of approximately 30 different equipment certified with quality certificates, the Company carries out turnkey production under a single roof.
Within the product range, designs and productions of Fire Trucks, Environmental Vehicles, Transportation Vehicles, Defense Specific Vehicles, Construction Specific Vehicles and Special Products take place.
Among these products, there are various vehicle-top-equipment having diverse functions to ease the life from the fire trucks to garbage truck, from vacuum truck to channel opening vehicles, from tankers to rescue vehicles and from dampers to mobile maintenance vehicles.
The company also produces riot control vehicles (TOMA) with its ability of production based on the state-of-art technology.
Katmerciler does business with the automotive giants in the world such as Ford, BMC, Hyundai, Isuzu, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Renault, Scania and Volvo for the production of vehicle-top-equipment.