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Air Force Brief History

Brief History

The Uganda Air Force is a statutory institute and a service arm of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, the other being the Land Forces. It is established by the Defence forces Act, 2005, Section 3 Sub – section 2(b).

The Uganda Air Force traces its origins from the Armed Forces Act, which was passed by parliament in January 1964. The gist of the Act underscored the necessity of defending Uganda’s airspace, a need paramount for modern warfare, since World War 1. At this point in time, the cold war eventualities had necessitated post colonial states to establish strong armies that would defend the territorial integrity of African countries. Significant is that, cross border incursions were prominent as colonial borders had fueled interstate wars. It was therefore a critical moment for most states to develop their Air forces. In line with this, Uganda, the Federal Republic of Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan invested in War planes with prime aim of fighting strategic wars.

On January 18, 1965, Prime Minister, Apollo Milton Obote formally inaugurated the Uganda Air Force at a function in which he was represented by his Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Hajji Akbar Adoko Nekyon.

On September 3, 1964 the government – owned newspaper, Uganda Argus invited suitably qualified Ugandans to join the force. The original force was built around officers drawn from the command and administration of Uganda Army general headquarters and the Uganda Police Force. From the army came Major Kanuti and Capt Andrew Tindikahwa whereas from the Police Air Wing came four officers, including Smutts Guweddeko who later rose to command a fully fledged air force at the rank of a Brigadier.
The recruits underwent basic military training in Jinja and those selected as pilots and technical crew left for training in Czechoslovakia.

Between 1964 and 1970 the Uganda Air Force employed a range of aircrafts, including American made piper , C-130 and Dakota, French Fouger Majester, Italian Piaggio, Czech L- 29 and Russia’s MIG 15, 17 and 21. The tasks ranged from training, through transport to actual combat operations.
In addition were Agusta Bell helicopters, and the G2 and Jet Commander craft for VIP transport.

By mid 1970’s the Entebbe – headquartered force had grown by leaps and bounds, with well-established bases at Gulu and Nakasongola. But disaster struck in 1976, when the Israelis mounted an operation to rescue their hijacked citizens. Operation thunderbolt destroyed several aircrafts and what remained was taken as war booty when Idi Amin was defeated in 1979 by the Tanzanians.

In 1986, the NRM government inherited the skeleton of the air force that could only operate as an air wing of the army. However, since then much progress has been registered. A number of top – of – the- range aircrafts have been acquired and training conducted both locally and overseas.
Uganda air force remains the lynchpin in the country’s strategic defence by deterring threats and winning wars.


Location of Headquarter: Entebbe, Uganda

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