State Minister for Defense, General Jeje Odong told Parliament on Wednesday that government is studying purchase documents for the MI-24 helicopters that crashed in Kenya to see if Uganda can be compensated.
State Minister for Defense, General Jeje Odong told Parliament on Wednesday that government is studying purchase documents for the MI-24 helicopters that crashed in Kenya to see if Uganda can be compensated for the loss whose worth is yet to be established.
Odong was giving an update on the fate of the 28 Air Force servicemen, who set off from Soroti for Somalia in four aircraft before three of them crashed in the Mount Kenya ranges on Sunday night.
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The Ministry of Defense has confirmed that three dead bodies have been recovered from the crash sites. Odong identified the dead as Captain William Letti, the pilot of one of the helicopters, his Co-pilot, Lieutenant Patrick Nahamya and Second Lieutenant Robert Tushabe, who was the technical officer.
Odong told Parliament that another 21 soldiers were rescued by the Kenya Defense Forces, while four are still missing. He however, said that their names cannot be released because their whereabouts are still unknown, adding that if found dead their families will have to be informed first before the names are made public.
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On the capacity of the aircraft, Odong says the MI-24 are heavier and cannot lift high like the Mi-17, the only aircraft that was able to land safely in Wajir. Odong said Mi-17 is a transport or utility aircraft that can be able to go high in mountainous areas like Mt. Kenya.
He noted that the probe committee set up on Tuesday will be able to tell after one month whether there were alternative routes as well as other problems encountered by the team. The probe is to be headed by General Salim Saleh, a senior Ugandan army officer and brother to President Yoweri Museveni
Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, the commander of the land forces, says the helicopters were air worthy, adding that United Nations team would not have left the country had the situation been otherwise. The crew and equipment was ready for combat in Somalia. All the soldiers were trained to the UN standards.
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Uganda has had a history of military air disasters including the July 2005 crash in which the then Sudan Vice President and South Sudan leader, Lt. Gen. John Garang, died. The presidential chopper MI-172 crashed in Imatong Hills and killing seven people on board including Garang.
In December 1983, a Bell 412 helicopter carrying the then Army Chief of Staff, Maj Gen David Oyite Ojok, crashed in Ngoma, Luweero on its way to fight National Resistance Army rebels led by Yoweri Museveni.
Mike Mukula, Soroti Municipality MP, who is a qualified pilot, says that the reports of the other disasters need to be brought to light. He says that government need not rule out other factors that led to the crash. Issues like the performance of the aircraft, height, training of the personnel, load of fuel and route to Garissa in Kenya should be examined.
The minister will make another report to parliament on Thursday to give update as and when it comes.
Rescued Crew Members
Lieutenant Col. Chris Kasaija - Pilot
Major Charles Okidi - Pilot
Captain George Buga - Pilot
Captain Samuel Kitenyi - Co-Pilot
Captain Asad Magombe - Armament Technician
Lieutenant Robert Bakashaba - Co-Pilot
Lieutenant Job Osuret - Co-Pilot
Lieutenant Everest Sebagenzi - Flight Engineer
Lieutenant John Nyanzi - Flight Engineer
Lieutenant Charles Alemu - Flight Engineer
2nd Lieutenant Gideon Taremwa - Electrician
2nd Lieutenant Asaph Barigye - Technician
Warrant officer I Ongaria Patrick - Armament Technician
Warrant Officer I Ayesigye Nixon - Armament Technician
Warrant Officer II Nakabanda George - Technician
Warrant Officer II Wamagali Yahaya - Electrician
Warrant Officer II Kalulu Wilberforce- Medical
Staff Sergeant Komunda John - Electrician
Staff Sergeant Eritu Robert - Armament Technician
Sergeant Mugwisa Coleb - Medical
Private Muse Mark - Armament Technician
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