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Cablegate: Spla Purchases Russian Helicopters and Begins Pilot

VZCZCXRO8175
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1119 2091348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271348Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1429
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001119

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPLA PURCHASES RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS AND BEGINS PILOT
TRAINING

1. (SBU) The newly-established Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)
Air Force is awaiting the delivery of ten Mi-17 helicopters that are
being manufactured by the Russian Kazan Helicopter Plant. In
preparation of this equipment's arrival, SPLA troops are undergoing
air maintenance, repair, and flight training.

2. (SBU) According to SPLA contacts, the SPLA Air Force has ordered
ten Mi-17 helicopters from Russian Helicopter Manufacturer, Kazan
Helicopter Plant, based in Tatarstan, Russia. Of the ten
helicopters, five will be outfitted with dual fuel tanks, four with
single fuel tanks, and one will be used as a VIP carrier. With the
order of these aircraft comes a one-year service, parts, and pilot
training contract. If it is assessed that helicopter maintenance
and repair personnel, as well as pilots, still require training and
technical support at the end of the contracted year, an unidentified
organization based in Ethiopia reportedly will provide these
services for an additional year. According to a high-ranking SPLA
Air Force source, these helicopters are to be used strictly for
non-offensive purposes to include the transport of personnel and
supplies.

3. (SBU) Kazan has three different types of Mi-17 helicopters: the
Mi-172, which is strictly for passengers and VIPs; the Mi-17-V5
which is used for the transport of cargo and personnel; and the
Mi-17-1V which is a multi-purpose helicls the SPLA has ordered.

4. (SBU) In anti#ipation of the arrival of these aircraft an
unidentified number of SPLA personnel have begun maintenance,
repair, and flight training. Some SPLA soldiers have been training
at the Denel Centre for Learning and Development located at Kempton
Park in South Afriaa. According to earlier reporting, other SPLA
soldiers have been receiving air force training at an undisclosed
location in Ethigpia.

5. (SBU) Cgmment: In developig an air borce it makes sense for the
SPLA to starp with transport he,icopTers. Moving 3oldi%rs abd
supplies )n the South is often a #hallenge civen the poor road
infrastructure, and mgst airstrips !re often unusable for f)xed 7ingQ
aircraft in Qhe rainy season. Helic/pterQ dramatically incr%ase the
SPLA's logist)cal capabilities and al4hough they are hig(
maintejance, they ca. be 0ut ib serrice rela$ivel9 quickly. The
SPLA will need tm pl!n fu,ly for the downstr%am cost of maintaining
the helicopters, which will further strain an !lready over-extended
SPLA budget.

FERNANDEJ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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