Museveni Fires Air-force Generals Over Chopper Crash Scandal


Air-Force commander Maj Gen Jim Oweyesigire has been relieved of his duties and sent back to the army headquarters for deployment.

Brig Sam Turyagenda becomes the Acting Commander of the Air-Force, capsule according to a statement from the Ministry of Defence.

Brigadier Moses Rwakitarate, capsule the hitherto Chief of Staff Air-Force has also been sacked and replaced with Lt Col Charles Lutaya who was promoted to the Rank of Colonel.

visit this geneva;”>Gen Owoyesigire

“Following the completion of the probe into the tragedy crash of our Helicopters in the Kenya Air space, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda and Commander in Chief of the UPDF, has transferred Commander Air Force Lt Gen Jim Owoyesigire back to General Headquarters for redeployment and relieved the Chief of Staff Air Force Brig Moses Rwakitarate of his duties,” the statement, issued by Defence spokesperson Col Felix Kulayigye reads in part.

“He subsequently appointed Brig Sam Turyagenda and Lt Col Charles Lutayawho is promoted to the Rank of Col, Acting Commander Air Force and Chief of Staff Air Force respectively. We wish the new appointed Leaders of Air Force the best in their new appointments.”

The directives take immediate effect.

President Yoweri Museveni recently refused to accept “weather and mountains” as the cause of the disastrous crash of three UPDF choppers in Mt. Kenya in August.

Rwakitarate (L) with other army officers Julius Oketa and Phinehas Katirima

The attack helicopters were flying through Kenya to Somalia when they suddenly tumbled down into the forests of Mt. Kenya, killing seven experienced and highly trained Air-Force soldiers.

Others survived with serious injuries.

“Mountains cannot be a factor to serious operators. Weather can also not be accepted as a serious factor,” said Museveni.

“If the weather is bad, you do not fly. These days the satellites are able to show the nature of weather all over the globe,” he addED.

The President’s remarks came just days after Kenya authorities attributed the crash to bad weather and pilot error, adding the mountain was hard to navigate.

“Up to now I have nothing to say about this tragedy because I am indignant and disappointed. We have been painstakingly building the force for several years. Starting with small numbers, we now have a Force of tens of thousands of officers, fighters and technical cadres backed by millions of reserve fighters or potential fighters,” Museveni said then.

He said the Air-Force had been built from scratch to a potentially formidable fighting Force.

“We have done all this at the Uganda Government cost because outsiders never fund armies in Africa, for most of the time, in any decisive way,” he observed.

“Yet, some of the actors we have delegated authority over the Army as per the Constitution, once in a while, act negligently or high-handedly resulting in unnecessary losses,” Museveni warned.

The President appointed Gen Salim Saleh to investigate the cause of the crash. The report has since been forwarded to Museveni and a national security council held talks of the report.

It was then that it was decided that Owoyesigire and Rwakitarate, who were found guilty of “gross negligence and incompetence” thus leading to the chopper crash, be disciplined.

“In the meantime I cannot listen to stories of bad weather of the Kenya Mountains. Mountains are clearly shown on maps. We never fly over Mountains with helicopters, especially the combat ones,” said Museveni in August.

Some of the Air-Force personnel who perished in the chopper crash

“Whenever I am going to Bundibugyo, my pilots always fly around the Rwenzori; they never fly over the Rwenzori. When we operated over the Imatong hills in South Sudan, we used MI-17 which have got a higher ceiling (6,000 metres i.e. slightly above 19,685 ft, depending on the weight of the aircraft).”

Therefore, said Museveni, mountains cannot be a factor to serious operators. “Weather can also not be accepted as a serious factor. If the weather is bad, you do not fly. These days the satellites are able to show the nature of weather all over the globe,” said Museveni.

He clarified that the MI-17 which was part of the formation is equipped with weather radar.

“It would have warned the formation so that they could not return to the Nanyuki Air-Force base of Kenya. I believe the Gen. Saleh Enquiry team will give actual truth so that this careless handling of our precious military personnel and equipment stops forever.”


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