A UPDF helicopter crashed in Somalia on Friday, officials announced Sunday.
The aircraft, which was on a mission to support AMISOM troops, crashed soon after take-off in Balidogle in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia.
“All four soldiers aboard the helicopter were rescued and are in a stable medical condition,” said AMISOM in a statement this Sunday.
Investigations are underway to establish the cause of the accident.
But AMISOM said preliminary reports pointed to possible mechanical failure.
“The helicopter belong to the AMISOM Aviation Unit from the UPDF,” said AMISOM.
UPDF deployed helicopters to Somalia in July 2020.
The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi, who flagged-off the UPDF Aviation Unit under the command of Col Moses Amanya from Nakasongola UPDF Air Force (UPDF – AF) Wing, said operations against the Al-Shabaab insurgents would be much easier with the presence of air support.
“The presence of airpower will offer us extensive asymmetric advantages over the unconventional and dispersed enemy in Somalia. With air assets, we will be able respond quickly with precision fires or inject a quick reaction force once the enemy assembles,” he said.
Gen Muhoozi further said the presence of air assets would also not only guarantee dominance of firepower for the UPDF over the enemy but provide marked advantage on technical intelligence, among other benefits.
This was the first time UPDF was deploying air assets in Somalia since the chopper crash in Mt Kenya in 2012.
Russian-built Mi-24 ‘Hind’ helicopters were travelling to Somalia to help fight al-Qaida-linked militants when they crashed.
ChimpReports understands UPDF had in recent weeks intensified attacks against Al Ashabaab in Somalia using air assets.
The UPDF, led by former Special Forces Commander Maj Gen Don Nabaasa, in January 2021 carried out ground target operations in Sigaale, Adimole and Kayitoy villages, neighbouring Janaale in Lower Shaballe region, putting out of action 189 Al-Qaeda linked fighters and destroying a number of military hardware and items used by the terrorist attacks.
It remains unclear if the United Nations will compensate Uganda for the loss of the helicopter.
The Commander Air Forces, Lt Gen Charles Lwanga Lutaaya recently said the deployment of UPDF helicopters in Somalia was based on a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between the African Union, United Nations and Government of Uganda.
“The MOU authorized the aviation services to include, but not limited to, timely evacuation from hostile environment, transportation of dangerous goods, quick insertion and extraction of troops, aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, armed escorts, armed air reconnaissance, main supply routes support, combat search and rescue, support for airmobile operations, close air support, deterrence operations, air cover, armed patrols, interdiction and troop resupply in hostile environment missions and transportation of personnel and cargo,” said Lt Gen Lutaaya.
Once fully injected on the operation theatre with all the assets, the helicopters have been providing the ground forces with the necessary firepower that was missing to subdue the enemy.
Flagging off the helicopters to Somalia, Gen Muhoozi said airpower remained an “important intelligence capability, enhancing surveillance and reconnaissance that we have been operating without for over a decade.”
He urged the Air Force team to fully cultivate the advantages they can offer to the ground forces so as to bring a quick end to the Al-Shabaab menace.