in Defence / Features

Hueys give Uganda's force uplift

Posted 28 June 2018 · Add Comment

The Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has received a useful boost to its vertical lift capabilities with the arrival of five refurbished Bell Huey II helicopters from US surplus stocks.

The aircraft, formerly used by the US Army, had undergone almost a year being upgraded at Bell Helicopter’s Ozark, Alabama plant, according to South African internet site DefenceWeb.
Uganda’s current transport helicopter fleet consists of 10 Russian-built Mil Mi8/Mi-17s. The US machines are part of a $79 million package of defence aid to Uganda announced by the US in 2016. The US embassy in Kampala at the time said that the helicopters were being provided to assist Uganda’s efforts as part of the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Bringing a UH-1H up to Huey II standards involves refurbishing the basic airframe to zero-time original equipment manufacturer standards – in other words, effectively taking it back to ‘as-new’ status – completely rewiring the aircraft, installing updated avionics and providing options for mission-specific equipment kit.
The 1,800shp Honeywell T53-L-703 engine is combined with dynamic components from the commercial twin-engined Bell 212 model, which improves the helicopter’s hover performance in hot conditions.
The aircraft’s maximum gross weight rises to 10,500lbs (4,670kg) compared to the original 9,040lbs (4,000kg), giving the Huey II a useful load of almost 4,900lbs. It can carry around a dozen troops.
Although not an attack helicopter, the Huey II can be armed with machine guns fired from the open doors of the troop compartment.
A US State Department official confirmed that the aircraft had been transferred to UPDF representatives in late November 2017. He added that the US assistance included not only the aircraft but also pilot and maintainer training.
The US was committed, he said, to working with Uganda to achieve full operational capability on the Hueys so that Uganda could “safely and effectively operate the aircraft in support of counter-terrorism operations”.
Uganda has faced a 20-year-long insurgency in the north of the country by the Lord’s Resistance Army. It also shares borders with the strife-torn Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
 

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