Rwanda is this month set to deploy two more helicopters to South Sudan as part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), bringing the number to eight.
Rwanda already has 119 air force personnel in the country and with this new deployment of the two helicopters, its air force personnel will also increase to 225 air force officers and personnel, the Defense and Military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita told reporters yesterday.
Showing reporters the brand new choppers at the air force base in Kanombe, base commander, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Rugazora, said the Mi-17 helicopters “are brand new and will deploy sometime this month.”
“We are now conducting some of the special aviation exercises to prepare our crew for such missions. Since we anticipate various scenarios, we are getting our people ready for deployment,” Rugazora said.
Nzabamwita and Rugazora were talking to reporters shortly after receiving the last contingent of 270 troops from the Malakal region of South Sudan, on completion of their one-year tour of duty.
In late 2012, the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) deployed the first aviation units – three transport helicopters with 18 crew members – to support UNMISS.
With more than 5,000 peacekeeping personnel deployed in different international missions, Rwanda – currently the fifth troop and police contingent contributor to world peace keeping missions – is among few African countries to deploy air assets in UN International Peacekeeping missions around the world.
The RDF leadership maintains that deploying air assets is not a simple thing as it is a sophisticated endeavor and, a great achievement which Rwandans need to be proud of because it is a demonstration of the development of RDF professionalism to operate in a multinational setting in international arena.