Uganda commissions first locally overhauled Mi-24

5848

The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has reached a significant milestone regarding the domestic maintenance of its fleet after President Yoweri Museveni commissioned the first locally overhauled Mi-24.

Museveni on 18 April attended a ceremony at Nakasongola Air Base, where he inspected the first Mi-24P to be overhauled in Uganda, by Russian company Proheli International Services Limited. The aircraft was seen fitted with new dust filters, indicating possible foreign deployment. The aircraft was also upgraded for day and night operations and “will be used to curb the persistent cattle rustling and during other operations against terrorists in the region,” the UPDF said.

The Chief of Staff – Air Force Brigadier General David Gonyi – said the new facility – commissioned in January 2022 – will improve on the turnaround time taken to repair a helicopter as instead of three years, it took one year and three months to overhaul the first Mi-24. Locally overhauling the aircraft reduced the cost of transporting equipment, generated revenue, and provided employment to Ugandans (about 200 local workers currently) and facilitated industrial training for Air Force personnel. “With this facility, serviceability in the Air Force will increase and thus increase on combat readiness,” he explained.

Museveni said the helicopter overhaul “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. I thank the Russian government for not objecting to our cooperation but supporting it. I also thank NEC and Luwero Industries for enthusiastically taking advantage of this good will and building this capacity.”

“I saw the potential of convergence of interests. We have no problem with Russia and vice-versa,” said Museveni. “I thank the Russian Government for supporting us and building the Mi-24 facility.”

He also appealed to Proheli to include the overhaul of the Sukhoi aircraft, adding that the latter will benefit from the broad African market using both Mi-24 and Sukhoi aircraft. The UPDF’s air wing operates Sukhoi Su-27 multirole fighters, as does Eritrea and Ethiopia.

National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), the production and commercial arm of the UPDF, entered into the joint venture with Proheli to set up the Mi-24 maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Proheli, Valerii Copeichin, the facility intends to be a one-stop centre for helicopter MRO, grow local human resources, manufacture electronic software for helicopters, and intends to manufacture a Ugandan-made helicopter using local manpower. “We are determined to work together with the UPDF to stabilize Uganda’s defence,” he said, adding the overhaul of Sukhoi aircraft will soon be an addition to the Nakasongola facility, which at present can overhaul Mi-8/17 and Mi-24 helicopters.

The UPDF has about a dozen Mi-24/35 attack helicopters in service along with several Mi-8/Mi-17s, several AB 206 Jet Rangers, half a dozen Bell 205s, and a couple of Bell 212 helicopters. Five refurbished Huey II helicopters were delivered from 2017. Uganda ordered six Mi-28 attack helicopters from Russia in 2020, and three were delivered last year.

Uganda is making great strides in growing its military industrial base and becoming more independent. NEC, in partnership with the United Arab Emirates’ Streit Group, in July 2022 opened an armoured vehicle factory (NEC-Streit Uganda Ltd).

In August 2018 Uganda officially launched an Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing and Assembly Facility in Maga Maga. Its first product was the Mamba-based Nyoka armoured personnel carrier, created in collaboration with South Africa’s Twiga Services and Logistics via its Ugandan sister company Impala Services and Logistics.

In October 2021, the UPDF commissioned the locally manufactured Chui (Leopard) infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), which is based on Twiga’s Nyati. The Chui is manufactured by the Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing and Assembly Facility.