The South Sudanese military – SPLA – has awarded two ‘sophisticated’ lightweight South-Sudanese-made air-crafts to the withdrawing Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) as a token of appreciation for their military support of the Kiir regime in Juba during the conflict, a reliable source has told Saakam.
UPDF has also received two white bulls, two cows and a couple of Chinese-made replica-iPads from authorities in the world newest nation.
The two South Sudanese-made air-crafts are part of a second generation batch based on designs by George Mel, the 23-year old South Sudanese who first started building planes in his back yard in Juba, South Sudan.
Earlier this year, BBC interviewed George Mel – the plane-builder from South Sudan. Since then, the talented Mr. Mel was absorbed into the SPLA Airforce where he apparently started embarking on his ambitious life-time dream to build planes.
Months later, the super-secretive and highly classified project believed to have produced a couple of ‘lightweight but highly sophisticated’ air-crafts fitted with twin 125cc motor-cycle engines manufactured by Senke, a Chinese motor-cycle manufacturer. According to sources, the second generation planes appear more promising and might even lift off the ground if anyone is brave and light enough to volunteer as a test pilot.
The first generation model used a petrol power-generator to turn a huge wooden propeller. The pilot seat was a single everyday aluminium chair bolted with screws and wires onto the frame of the plane. It also used to have wheel-burrow wheels – thus adding more weight and making it too heavy to lift off.
A representative of the UPDF thanked the SPLA for the generous gift. However, he admitted that the UPDF might not have the necessary skills and expertise to ‘fly’ the South-Sudanese made planes and appealed to the SPLA to lend them some [test] pilots.
The people of Uganda will forever be grateful to you, our brothers and sisters of South Sudan for these gifts. If our pilots cannot learn to fly or are too heavy for these advanced lightweight planes, we can still recommend them to the UN to use …if they insist on using and bringing in their own drones
“The people of Uganda will forever be grateful to you, our brothers and sisters of South Sudan for these gifts. If our pilots cannot learn to fly or are too heavy for these advanced lightweight planes, we can still recommend them to the UN to use…. if they insist on using and bringing in their own drones,” said the UPDF representative.
It is still unclear whether South Sudan plans to mass-produce and sell its lightweight planes to other countries. If that is the case, it waits to be seen if the United Nations (UN) would purchase a few, modify and use them in South Sudan as drones. The government of South Sudan resists and rejects the deployment of any foreign-made drones by the UN mission there – a matter that has put the UN and the government of the world newest nation at loggerheads.
More about South Sudan’s plane-builder