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First Mi-24 helicopter overhauled in Uganda

ProHeli CEO Valerii Copeichin shows President Museveni around the MRO facility at Nakasongola Air Base. (State House (Uganda))

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni attended a ceremony on 18 April to mark the completion of the first helicopter overhaul at a new facility in the country.

Ugandan television showed Museveni inspecting the helicopter maintenance, refurbishment, and overhaul (MRO) facility at Nakasongola Air Base and watching a Mi-24P taking off. Unusually for a Ugandan helicopter, it was fitted with dust filters over its engines, suggesting it will be deployed outside the region.

The Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) said in a statement this was the first Mi-24 to be overhauled in Sub-Saharan Africa and that it was completed in 15 months rather than the three years it would have taken if the helicopter had been sent to Europe.

Opened by Museveni in January 2022, the MRO facility is a collaboration between the UPDF's National Enterprise Corporation and ProHeli International Services. Satellite imagery shows the facility has been built to the south of the base's runway and has a large residential area as well as hangars.

In his speech, Museveni thanked Russia for co-operating with Uganda and praised President Vladimir Putin. He revealed that ProHeli has proposed establishing an MRO capability for Sukhoi aircraft in Uganda, which he said he supported it. The UPDF's air wing operates Sukhoi Su-27 multirole fighters, as does Eritrea and Ethiopia.

“There is big demand here for helicopters and the fixed-wing [aircraft],” Museveni said. “They need maintenance, they need overhaul, they need upgrading. Which is better: to do it there or here?” He added that, with its well-trained personnel, Uganda could offer more affordable MRO services to other African countries.

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