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Ugandan Peoples Defence Air Force - Modernization

Between 1964 and 1970 the Uganda Air Force employed a range of aircraft, including American made piper , C-130 and Dakota, French Fouger Majester, Italian Piaggio, Czech L- 29 and Russias MIG 15, 17 and 21. The tasks ranged from training, through transport to actual combat operations. In addition were Agusta Bell helicopters, and the G2 and Jet Commander craft for VIP transport.

By 1965 Israel was equipping Uganda's security services, supplying small arms, light artillery pieces, and other equipment, and providing Israeli military instructors in Uganda. Israel also helped establish the Ugandan air force and equipped it with Piper Super Cub and Piaggio aircraft. After Congolese (Zairian) aircraft bombed western Ugandan villages in 1965, Israel furnished Uganda with six armed Fouga Magister jet trainers and three DC-3 Dakota transport aircraft. Tel Aviv also established training schools for Ugandan pilots, artillery officers, and paratroopers.

The Soviet Union eventually became one of Kampala's closest allies. Soviet weapons deliveries to Uganda began after the two countries signed a military agreement in July 1965. Under the terms of this agreement, Moscow trained more than 20 pilots, and 50 air force technicians and mechanics. In addition,the Soviet Union supplied a squadron of two MiG-15 and four MiG-17F fighter-interceptors, airport ground support and military maintenance facilities, ground-to-ground and ground-to-air radio communication equipment. All this matiriel was free of charge, but Uganda had to pay for spare parts and ammunition purchased after that.

In July 1972, a Ugandan military delegation visited Moscow and arranged to take delivery of a variety of weapon systems, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, transport aircraft, helicopters, marine patrol boats, field engineering equipment, MiG-21s, and radar. The next major Soviet arms deliveries were in 1974 and 1975, when Uganda obtained more than US$500 million in equipment. Significant items included 12 MiG-21s, 8 MiG-17s, 60 T/34/T/54 tanks, 100 armored personnel carriers, 50 antiaircraft guns, 200 antitank missiles, 850 bombs and rockets, 9 radar units, 2 Mi-8 helicopters, 250 surface-to-air missiles, 6 patrol boats, 6 mobile bridges, an unknown number of trucks and jeeps, and quantities of ammunition, spare parts, and test equipment.

When Tanzania invaded Uganda, a decline in Soviet military assistance forced Amin to look to Libya and, to a lesser extent, the PLO for support. Tripoli responded by sending large quantities of arms to Uganda, including three BM-21 "Stalin organ" rocket launchers and a Soviet-built Tu-22 bomber, which was used to bomb Tanzanian positions throughout southern Uganda.

In 1986, the NRM government inherited the skeleton of the air force that could only operate as an air wing of the army. However, since then much progress has been registered. A number of top of the- range aircraft have been acquired and training conducted both locally and overseas.

In November 1988, the Ugandan Ministry of Defence began talks with a Soviet manufacturer to purchase an An-32 transport aircraft, but a year later, the aircraft had not been delivered. By mid-1989, Moscow had halted military aid to Uganda as part of its commitment to reduce its military role in sub-Saharan Africa.

Until the late 1990s the Ugandan air force was primarily composed of a few helicopters, but in 1998 Uganda began to acquire combat aircraft for use in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (1998-2003) and then against the LRA in Uganda and Sudan.

Russian state arms export agency Rosoboronexport signed a preliminary agreement with Uganda for six Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighter jets in April 2010, but protracted negotiations, particularly over price, meant that a deal worth a reported US$740 million was only signed in May 2011. The first two aircraft were delivered in July 2011, followed by another two in October 2011. On 30 May 2012 the final two Su-30MKs were delivered.

Uganda was in talks with Russian state arms export company Rosoboronexport over an option purchase of six more Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighter jets, the company's Deputy Director Alexander Mikheyev said on 21 September 2012 at an arms exhibition in South Africa. Uganda signed its first contract to buy six Su-30MK2 fighters in 2011, he said. "Now, we are talking about an option, the Ugandans expressed interest in buying another six aircraft of this type," he said.

At least three jets of the Ugandan air force bombed the positions of the General Peter Gatdet Yak in Bor, the capital of Jonglei State, on December 21, 2013. One of the jets was reported to have been shut down by Gatdets forces, Eyewitnesses in the area told the South Sudan News Agency. The bombings come just one day after Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni sent his special forces to Juba, asserting that he acts at the request of the South Sudanese President.

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Page last modified: 13-06-2015 20:55:49 ZULU