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Details: Why Police is selling its fixed-wing aircraft

By Davis Mugabi

Details have emerged as to why the Uganda Police Force is selling its fixed-wing aircraft.

The Uganda Police Airwing is a support unit that provides aerial patrols, search and rescue, rapid response and troop transportation, aerial surveillance for pirates and other criminal elements, aerial assault, insertion and extraction, VIP transportation, medevac, and casevac.

They also carry out anti-terrorism roles. The Airwing currently operates four aircraft, comprising three helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft, a 5X-PEF/PI80 Piaggio Avanti II Evo-9 seater, which was acquired in June 2019. During the year 2023, the Airwing, using the three helicopters, responded to multiple incidents in the Karamoja region, the Rwenzori region, and the cities of Kampala, Jinja, Hoima, Mbarara, Lira, Gulu, Soroti, and Arua, among others, which makes it an integral and essential part of policing in the country.

However, the fixed-wing PI80 Piaggio Avanti II that was acquired in June 2019 at a cost of USD 7.840.000 did not achieve any positive outcomes, yet it has the capacity to remain airborne for up to 8 hours while providing aerial support.

Since its acquisition, it has only covered a total flying distance of 117 hours because it is not designed for non-tarmacked runways and undergoes expensive mandatory inspections, insurance, and AMO, with no benefits realized. In addition, the aircraft parts are very expensive, given their nature and category of luxury.

According to Police Spokesman Fred Enanga, the Hon. Minister gave no objection to the disposal of the unserviceable aircraft and the procurement of the new compatible helicopter.

“A composite Board of Survey on 19.10.2022. We inspected the aircraft and valued it at USD 4.271,709.06. The value that was considered in the valuation analysis by the Board of Survey includes: depreciated replacement cost valuation, technical condition, based valuation, blue book values, current marketing running prices, a minimum of USD 100,681.79 to replace expired parts, and it being the only aircraft on the African continent,” said Enanga.

Therefore, Enanga says that the replacement of the fixed-wing aircraft will provide the police wing with an additional operational and effective crime-fighting tool.

So far, he added that several types of aircraft have been reviewed with manufacturers in total consideration of the possible loads and operations of the Uganda Police.

“It is considered an option of the UPF that the Paggio Avanti 11 Evo be disposed of and a new generation of compatible aircraft acquired through the trade-in procurement sourcing method, in line with the PPDA laws and regulations,” said Enanga.

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