US to replace crashed UPDF choppers

The two Cessna 208B planes that the US Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms Patricia Mahoney handed over to the UPDF Air Force on Monday. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

What you need to know:

On August 12, 2012 three Ugandan army Mi-24 helicopter gunships operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia crashed under mysterious circumstances over Mount Kenya

ENTEBBE. The United States government is considering replacing the three Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) Air Force combat helicopters that crashed on the slopes of Mount Kenya en-route Somalia on August 12, 2012.
The discussions are still in infant stages but the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, revealed on Monday that Washington has been forthcoming to replace the choppers since they were on mission to fight al-Shabaab militias, under the UN-sponsored African Union Mission (Amisom) in Somalia.
“We have been having these discussions and they have hinted on the possibility of replacing them [choppers] with their own kind of aircrafts,” Gen Wamala said.
The three Mi24 gunship helicopters that crashed reportedly cost Shs30 billion, and Uganda has since been prodding the United Nations to replace the fighter jets.
President Museveni, who blamed the crash of the choppers on “acts of negligence”, in 2013, requested the UN to replace the choppers, while addressing world leaders at the Somalia conference in London.
But the UN, which had sanctioned the deployment under UN Security Council Resolution 2036, blamed the Ugandan military for the accident, and urged Kampala to bear the cost of replacement.
Gen Katumba made the revelation while speaking at the UPDF Air Force base in Entebbe at a ceremony to receive two Cessna 208B Caravan aircrafts that will be used for evacuation purposes in zones where Uganda is involved in combat, notably Somalia, South Sudan and Central African Republic.
The two aircrafts worth $15 million (about Shs45 billion), including spare parts and training of their pilots, were donated by the US Department of Defence to support UPDF airforce’s capacity in building regional security.

The crash
On August 12, 2012 three Ugandan army Mi-24 helicopter gunships operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia crashed under mysterious circumstances over Mount Kenya. The combat helicopters were en-route to Kismayo to combat the Islamist militants al-Shabaab when the crashes occurred, killing seven crew members and leaving 21 injured.

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