Museveni commissions overhauled Russian-made helicopter in Nakasongola 

President Museveni flanked by the CEO of PRO Heli International Services, Mr Valari Copcin and other officials at the Nakasongola military facility on April 18, 2023. PHOTO | PPU

What you need to know:

  • The President who aimed a swipe at the Western countries said he has often indicated in writing to the Western partners on how the world should be run not through rivalry but through cooperation.

President Museveni on Tuesday commissioned into flight Russian made helicopter that has been overhauled and upgraded at Nakasongola, Uganda. 
Said to be the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, the helicopter was upgraded at the Pro Heli Plant International Services Limited at Nakasongola Air base.
“I am glad to have commissioned the first overhauled MI-24 helicopter at the Nakasongola facility. This is another example of our excellent and longstanding relations with Russia, based on a convergence of interests that continue to bear logical dividend for Africa and Russia,” the president tweeted on Tuesday evening.
“I thank the Russian government for not objecting to our cooperation but supporting it. I also thank NEC & Luweero Industries for enthusiastically taking advantage of this good will and building this capacity,” president Museveni added.
Mr Museveni, however, said his military cooperation with Russian dates back to 1986 when he sent the late Eriya Kategaya to buy MI 17 from the Soviet Union. He, however, said soon after the Soviet Union collapsed during the time of Gorbachev and Yeltsin there was chaos and thanked President Vladimir Putin for stabilising the country.
“I want to congratulate President Putin for stabilising Russia and strengthening it again,” he said.
Mr Museveni who on arrival toured one of the hangers at the facility led by Mr Valari Copcin, the CEO PRO Heli International Services Ltd, said after the collapse of Soviet Union, there was no contact with the Russian partners so he offered himself to travel to Russia as a tourist to revive the relationship with the Russians.
“You couldn’t get anything from Russia, there was no contact. I worked with the UN office on a private visit. I said I want to revive this relationship. I went as a tourist and met the current Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the former Prime Minister. That is when I bought the SUKOI,” he disclosed.
The President who aimed a swipe at the Western countries said he has often indicated in writing to the Western partners on how the world should be run not through rivalry but through cooperation.
“We don’t want this nonsense of rivalry, what are you rivaling for?  We have got enough problems to solve as a human race. It should be through cooperation and respecting the internal issues of countries. How can you have the whole world thinking the same way”, he wondered.
He said it was in the same vein he told the Western world that tried to mobilise African Countries to stand against Russia that it was impossible for Africa to tow that line because Russia never harmed the continent.
“How can you say we fight Russia without any reason?” he asked, adding that it would be difficult to fight a country that has stood with Africa for more than 100 years even when Western powers were busy scrambling for the partition of the continent.
“Soviet Union for the last 100 years has been with Africa, Asia and Latin America,” he said.
During the same function, the CEO of PRO Heli International Services, Mr Valari Copcin, said their aim is to make the facility one stop center for all aviation needs. He said that they could as well set up facilities to overhaul the Sukhoi jets from Nakasongola that would serve other African and Latin American countries as well as Brazil.
The Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, they are saving a lot from the facility as transporting one helicopter alone to and fro for hauling and maintenance abroad costs over US$ 2 million (Shs7.5 billion).
The Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Gen Wilson Mbadi, said the facility would provide reliance, combat readiness and employment to 200 Ugandan Engineers.
He added that the facility will also promote Defense Diplomacy as other countries will be utilising the services of the plant.
Brig Gen David Gonyi who stood in for the Commandant of the Air Force Maj Gen Charles Okidi, said the plant gives the Air Force short time of service and would also support Industrialisation policy and the country’s economy.
“Formerly it would take two years to overhaul a helicopter but today with our own facility in Uganda, it takes one year and three months only,” he said.