Monday 13 August 2012

UPDF Helicopters located,pilot sends SOS

Monday 13

Such helicopters crashed
Four UPDF helicopters that had reportedly gone missing on Sunday as they flew to Somalia to shore up the final attack on the port city of Kismayu have been located, army spokesperson Felix Kulaigye has confirmed.

Kulaigye said there were no fatalities. He explained the choppers did not crash as earlier reported but made what he described as a ‘hard landing’.

Meanwhile one of the pilots has sent a message from Mt Kenya Forest seeking for help.
Kenya Defence Forces said the pilot told them the troops on the ground and in the ill-fated chopper needed urgent help. Miliatry officials confirmed the pilot was alive with ground and air troops rescue mission trying to evacuate him.
The area is feared to be cold with rugged terrain and difficult to access because of the dense forest cover.
Kenyan military and police acknowledged bad weather was hampering efforts to rescue the soldiers on board the MI24 chopper.

The four helicopters left a base in Soroti in 

Eastern Uganda Sunday for Eldoret with 28 air force officers on board but disappeared in Kenya air space

"The choppers left Soroti on Sunday for Eldoret. They landed successfully. They then left Eldoret for Nanyuki where they were scheduled to refuel before flying to Garissa. The choppers arrived in Nanyuki at 4pm.  After that they headed for Garissa and were expected to land at 6pm,” Kulayigye said on Monday.

He said it was only helicopter number Mi17 that landed successfully in Garissa but reported to have lost contact with the rest of the helicopters. The pilot of the third helicopter had radioed for help from the Mount Kenya region, but rain and poor weather conditions are hampering rescue efforts.

Kenya's Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in a brief statement: "One has been sighted on Mt Kenya and another in Meru area. We are still trying to find out finer details of the crash and the search and rescue missions are on-going."

Last week the Uganda People’s Defence Air Force for the first time sent a contingent of ace pilots to support the ongoing AU peace operations in Somalia.

The air force would provide aerial escort for convoys, reconnaissance operations along the supply routes, medical evacuation, air search and rescue as well as aerial combat against the al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.

The contingent of airmen and women and helicopters was flagged off by the chief of defence forces Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and the commander of the air force Gen. Jim Owoyesigire.

Aronda handed over the AU flag to the contingent commander Lt. Col. Chris Kaija.

Then, Gen. Owoyesigire said that the utility helicopters would be used to support the ground troops in line with the unapproved mandate for troops deployed in Somalia under the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Ugandan troops form the backbone of the AMISOM in Somalia.


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