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US Congress launches new probe into Kenyan AT-802L deal

25 May 2017
The L3-Air Tractor OA-8 Longsword armed turboprop aircraft, designated AT-802L for the proposed deal with Kenya. Source: L3 Technologies

The sale to Kenya of 12 armed L3 Technologies-Air Tractor AT-802L intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and light attack turboprops is being investigated by the US Congressional Committee On Oversight And Government Reform, it was disclosed earlier in May.

In a letter addressed to the recently installed Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, the committee has asked for clarification on a number of points related to the USD418 million deal that was first revealed in January. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives.

"The committee is interested in learning more about the decision to award this contract despite evidence that L3 has no weaponised border patrol aircraft in service, and has limited past performance in manufacturing aircraft of this type," the 18 May letter from committee chairman Jason Chaffetz read. While L3 has developed a border patrol aircraft in the guise of the AT-802U (also designated AT-802L and OA-8 Longsword), this does not have the weapons certification needed for the Kenyan deal.

The committee's investigation of the proposed sale to Kenya (which also includes two AT-504 trainer turboprops) comes on the back of a similar intervention by Congressman Ted Budd, who represents the North Carolina-based IOMAX. IOMAX attests that L3 and Air Tractor have purposefully misrepresented their AT-802U/L/OA-8 Longsword to steal sales away from its similarly configured Archangel Border Patrol Aircraft (BPA). In February, Budd introduced a motion to stop the sale pending a Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit and oversight investigation into the deal.

In his letter to Wilson, Chaffetz notes the committee's concerns with the proposed deal for Kenya. In particular, he highlights false statements made regarding the need for US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the Foreign Military Sale (FMS), noting that the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has previously reported that "[the] FAA has no jurisdiction over the development and maintenance of military aircraft".

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