By Kaleyesus Bekele
The US government has donated a C-130E Hercules military transport aircraft to the Ethiopian Air Force. Reliable sources told The Reporter that the Ethiopian Air Force has acquired the aircraft that was being operated by the US Air Force.
Sources said the USAF-130E recently entered service with No 15 squadron at Ethiopian Air Force main airbase in Bishoftu town, Oromia Regional State.
The US Embassy in Addis Ababa has confirmed that the United States government donated a single C-130E military transport aircraft to the Government of Ethiopia. In a statement sent to The Reporter the embassy said, “This aircraft’s primary use is for tactical airlift of troops and equipment to support Ethiopian participation in AU and UN peacekeeping operations”. According to the embassy, the donation includes some training on navigation and maintenance procedures.
Ethiopia’s military transport fleet has been heavily engaged in transporting equipment for international forces fighting militants in Somalia. In August 2013 Ethiopian Air Force lost two military transport aircraft in Mogadishu, Somalia due to crash landings. The Ethiopian Air Force lost C130 and Antonov 12 military transport planes in the accidents. “The US agreed to provide replacement for a Hercules that had been lost,” sources told The Reporter.
The aircraft selected for transfer to Ethiopia was a C-130E that had formerly served with Puerto Rico ANG’s 198th airlift squadron before being stored in the Arizona desert at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base with 22,739 flying hours recorded.
The US government donated two Hercules C130 military transport aircraft to the Ethiopian Air Force in 1998. The American government was to confer four of this aircraft but after delivering the two the Ethio-Eritrea border war broke out in May 1998 and the US government changed its mind because of the conflict and withheld two aircraft. The US government has also donated C130 aircraft to the Eritrean government before the two-year bloody border war.
The Ethiopian Air Force was established by Tafari Mekonnen in 1929 who hired two French pilots and bought four French made biplanes. Today the Ethiopian Air Force operates modern fighter aircraft including Sukhoi 27 and MI 35 gunship.
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