Somali-based terrorist organisation and Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabaab, attacked Manda Bay airfield (also known as Camp Simba) – a joint Kenyan Defence Force/US Africa Command military outpost in Manda Bay, Kenya, on January 5.
During the attack, a US service member and two US Department of Defense (DoD) contractors were killed. Two more DoD members were wounded but are in a stable condition and are being evacuated, according to a press release from US Africa Command. Local news suggests the Kenyan Defence Force also suffered casualties, but this has yet to be confirmed. On top of this, the attack severely damaged or destroyed six aircraft, along with other vehicles.
US Army Gen Stephen Townsend, commander of US Africa Command, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today. As we [honour] their sacrifice, let’s also harden our resolve. Alongside our African and international partners, we will pursue those responsible for this attack and al-Shabaab who seeks to harm Americans and US interests.”
“The work that our US forces are doing in East Africa bolsters partnerships, counters malign influence, and maintains critical pressure on terrorist networks. Our efforts directly contribute to counterterrorism, maritime surveillance, and intelligence sharing missions with our Kenyan partners. This activity enables enhanced security and stability in the region and for America,” he added.
Among the aircraft destroyed was a heavily modified de Havilland Canada DHC-8-202 Dash 8 in US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) service. The government-owned, contractor-operated aircraft, registration N8200L (C/N: 455), was modified to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. In addition, two US helicopters and a Kenyan aircraft were also confirmed to have been written off as a result of the attack.
Manda Bay airfield is also home to Kenyan Cessna 208B/EX Caravans, US Air Force (USAF) Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Pilatus U-28A (PC-12) utility aircraft and AFSOC C-146A Wolfhounds (Dornier 328s), along with de Havilland Canada DHC-8-202 Dash 8 (Q200) ISR aircraft, Airbus Military CN235 transports. The US Army is also present at the base, operating UH-60 Black Hawks and MH-6M Little Birds. Unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) such as the USAF’s MQ-9 Reaper frequently operate from the base.