Gen Mugira asks EAC states to use UPDF’s facility to overhaul their helicopters

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The Managing Director of the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), Lieutenant General James Mugira has asked the East African Community (EAC) member states to utilize Uganda’s military helicopter overhaul facility instead of taking their helicopters abroad wherever they require to be repaired.

General Mugira made this marketing move during a meeting of Chief Executive Officers of military industries from East African Community partner states in Kampala.

This meeting also discussed the progress of operationalizing the defence facilities offered for shared use, as well as the status of implementing previous sectoral council decisions and directives on defence cooperation.

He reiterated the importance of defence industries, which he said serve as crucial strategic facilities that ensure self-reliance and sustainable capabilities for supplying the armed forces during combat operations, thereby playing a vital role in supporting a country’s national defence.

“Uganda, as a country, we appreciate the strategic significance of local defence industries capabilities because countries need such capacity for self-reliance, especially in terms of equipment, to minimise reliance on foreign countries for resupply during wartime. The need for self-reliance by the African armed forces because of our history and the changing global environment cannot be overemphasised. You cannot talk of Sovereignty as a country when you depend on products and services from foreign countries for your national defence,” said Lt Gen Mugira.

“I am therefore happy that as a region, through this Forum, you are not only attaching a lot of importance to the development of local Defence Industries but also putting at each others’ disposal facilities for Joint Utilisation,” Lt Gen Mugira added.

He observed that defence is a complex and challenging sector due to increasing and sophisticated developments in science and technology, and therefore, Defence industries need to place strategic significance on research and development, which involves acquiring and upgrading high-technology weapons, as well as technical expertise.

“As EAC, we need to work together on this. Our countries must conduct Joint Research and Development and utilise science and technology to build a strong industrial base and capabilities to respond to current and future security threats. By so doing, our countries shall be gradually enabled to be somehow independent in science and technology,” said Lt Gen Mugira.

He challenged EAC partner states to utilise the limited resources amongst themselves and whatever services where available in the region instead of incurring heavy expenses outsourcing the same services and products from abroad. “For example, here in Uganda, we have built some capacity to maintain, repair and overhaul military helicopters; why would EAC countries not utilise that capacity instead of taking their helicopters abroad,”he said.

The meeting attracted Defence Liaison Officers and Chief Executive Officers of Military Industrial Facilities from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda.

In 2023, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) reached a significant milestone regarding the domestic maintenance of its helicopter fleet after President Yoweri Museveni commissioned the first locally overhauled Mi-24 helicopter at the facility located at Nakasongola Air Base

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