Ouganda: la course au surarmement continue
You don’t wait for war to buy fighter jets, says Gen. Museveni
Source: The Daily Monitor
By Martin Ssebuyira (email the author)
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, yesterday conceded calls by opposition for the government to give priority to infrastructure and healthcare ahead of military hardware are plausible but said defence cannot wait for war to purchase equipment.
Mr Museveni, who was inspecting the new planes at the airbase in Entebbe, said the delivery of Sukhoi Su-30 multirole fighters was after a long procurement process. He said he travelled to Russia last year to visit the factory that manufactured the newly-acquired fighter jets that cost government Shs1.2 trillion. He equated the long procurement process of the jets to the procedure a buyer goes through before a tailor finally makes clothes.
“In the 1950s, people had two options when walking in a shop to buy clothes; either to buy the available clothes or be measured by the tailor to make new clothes. I travelled to Russia in August last year to be measured and got brand new planes whose fruits are being seen now,” Mr Museveni said.
He acknowledged the calls by the opposition to build roads, schools and hospitals instead of buying military hardware but said military equipment is not procured during war times. “You don’t wait for war to buy military equipment in security. It’s normally advisable to buy when there is no war,” he said.
Opposition lawmakers have described the procurement as illegal, and accused the government of draining the central bank’s reserves without parliamentary approval.
The purchase of the jets has also been criticised by technocrats, including Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile. Mr Mutebile in June told the UK’s Financial Times newspaper that he had disagreed with the President over the purchase of fighter jets. But the President said the jets will beef the security capacity of the UPDF. He said the army relied on the M16 helicopters to end the LRA war.
The Russian-built Sukhoi SU-30 jet fighter is a twin-engine, all-weather aircraft, which can be deployed in air-to-air and air-to-surface missions. It can undertake combat missions within a 3,000-kilometre range, affording the UPDF the legroom to strike distant targets with precision and efficiency.