Rwanda Air Force has started a three-week training programme to prepare its pilots, technicians, maintenance officers, air logistics staff and medical services for deployment to the African Union-United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
According to a statement from the Ministry of Defence, Rwanda will early next year deploy five helicopters in Sudan for peacekeeping operations.
The training of the 140-strong contingent being conducted at the Rwanda Military Academy in Gako, Bugesera District, was opened on Monday by RDF Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga.
The training is jointly organised by the RDF and the US Army under the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) programme.
Rwanda maintains over 3,000 troops in Sudan since the peacekeeping operation was launched there in 2004.
Former army and defence spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jill Rutaremara, first announced that the country would deploy helicopters to Darfur in April this year following a meeting between Ambassador Dane Smith, the U.S. Senior Advisor on Darfur, and Defence Minister, James Kabarebe.
Smith had visited Rwanda and held discussions centred on the country’s role in Darfur.
Ethiopia similarly pledged to avail more helicopters for the operation.