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Ukrainians wrap up Ugandan aircraft upgrade

A team of 14 Ukrainian pilots, engineers, and designers from the Odessa Aviation Plant (OAP) have returned home from Uganda after repairing and upgraded six training and combat aircraft, Ukraine’s state-owned defence conglomerate UkrOboronProm announced on 28 March.

Personnel from Ukraine’s Odessa Aviation Plant (OAP) pose in front of L-39 jets at Uganda’s Gulu Air Base. (UkrOboronProm)

Personnel from Ukraine’s Odessa Aviation Plant (OAP) pose in front of L-39 jets at Uganda’s Gulu Air Base. (UkrOboronProm)

It said the team was put in quarantine for 14 days due to the Corvid-19 epidemic.

The work was carried out at Gulu Air Base under a contract awarded to Progress, a UOP-owned company. UkrOboronProm did not report the type of aircraft involved, but released supporting photographs showing Ukrainians in front of three Ugandan Aero L-39 Albatros training and light-attack jets.

Ukrainian media and defence portals have reported that, under a 2018 agreement, eight Ugandan L-39ZA jets have been overhauled and modernised by OAP.

The Dumskaya news website reported that the aircraft were fully disassembled so their wings and fuselages could be checked for damage, while their AI-25TL turbofan engines were overhauled and upgraded to the AI-25TLSh standard, giving them 10% more trust and improved control.

They also received more modern radio and navigation equipment, including GPS, VHF omnidirectional radio range (VOR) navigation systems, distance measuring equipment (DME), and instrument landing systems, in addition to new ICAO-compatible transponders and new, solid-state BUR-4-1 flight data recorders.

The first two were completed and sent back to Uganda at the end of 2018, followed by four more aircraft in 2019. Dumskaya reported that the final two L-39ZAs were airlifted to Gulu Air Base on 6 February aboard a Ukrainian Air Force Il-76MD transport aircraft that stopped on the way at Sofia Airport in Bulgaria to pick up related support equipment and specialist personnel.

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