Known as “Camp Simba,” Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya was attacked by the Somali terrorist group organization al-Shabaab on Sunday, January 5. The militants claimed to have destroyed 7 aircraft and 3 army vehicles. Initially stating that the attack was repelled, the Kenya Defense Force (KDF) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), later confirmed that there was an attack on the base. Details have been provided by AFRICOM. While they acknowledge the attack, they have stated through a press release that “Al-Shabaab has been exaggerating the security situation on ground.”
Several U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) aircraft regularly operate from the airfield strip. Those aircraft are C-146s, Dash 8s, Cessna 208, U-28, as well as UH-60 and MH-6 helicopters, and MQ-9 Reaper RPV. Unconfirmed reports have said that at least two U.S. aircraft were destroyed: a civil-registered DHC-8-Q202 operated by SOCOM and a C-146A Wolfhound. 17 photographs have been posted by the militants, showing how they allegedly burned aircraft inside the base. SOCOM’s Dash-8s are equipped with wide-area sensors for surveillance missions and are used by special forces to track terrorist groups. It is believed that the aircraft can also detect enemy communications, such as mobile signals. A photograph taken by KDF shows that the second aircraft destroyed was a C-146A. This aircraft’s primary mission is to support the Theater Special Operations Commands with responsive and operational movement of small teams.
After updates on the 5th and 6th of January from AFRICOM, it was stated that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged. It appears that the second aircraft destroyed was not a C-146A; sources are saying it could be a Super King Air variant. This aircraft looks very similar to general aviation aircraft and are used during covert missions by the U.S. Department of Defense and Special Operations across the globe.