September 3, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Southern Sudan army bought 10 helicopters from a Russian firm to transport troops, said a report unveiled by a news agency today.
Bloomberg’s report published on Friday said it has obtained a copy of the agreement between Kazan and the government of Southern Sudan, (GoSS) represented by SPLA Chief of Staff James Hoth Mai inked in May 2010.
The 10 MI-17s ordered by GoSS are MI-17s manufactured by the Russian Kazan Helicopters.
“The first four helicopters were later scheduled to be flown from Kazan airport to Entebbe in Uganda on Aug. 12 aboard an Antonov AN-124 aircraft, according to correspondence between the parties.”
Last August, a pro-National Congress Party (NCP) news website put out a report saying Southern Sudan army acquired 11 military planes from Kazan Aircraft Production Association (KAPA). But the SPLA dismissed the report.
Northern Sudanese army spokesperson Al-Swarmi Khalid told Bloomberg they were informed about the deal. He further said nothing proves that the aircraft are for military purposes.
Helmoed Romer Heitman, a military analyst said Southern Sudan, which is expected to vote in favor of independence in a referendum on self-determination next January, want to “discourage Khartoum from trying to preempt or nullify the referendum”.