Plane that landed on African highway carrying U.S. troops gets dismantled


A plane carrying U.S. troops in Africa was forced to make an emergency landing on a highway in Uganda in July. (YouTube screen grab of NTV Kenya video)

When a cargo plane landed on a Ugandan highway last month carrying U.S. troops, it grabbed attention and shed light on the low-key way in which American forces travel through Africa to carry out missions. But there’s more to the story: The aircraft will be dismantled, likely because it can’t fly from the same location again.

A news video of the plane — a CASA-212 aircraft, as the website Medium pointed out — shows it surrounded by Ugandan civilians after it made an emergency landing July 18. It will be hauled back “to its point of origin,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Espinosa, a spokeswoman for U.S. Africa Command. It flew of out of Entebbe International Airport in Uganda, according to this news account:

The aircraft was flown by AAR Corps, which is used to support U.S. troops who are deployed to Africa to assist in the hunt for Joseph Kony, the militia leader whose brutality inspired a viral video in 2012 that has been viewed nearly 1 billion times on YouTube. The plane landed about 31 miles west of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

“It was diverted due to poor weather conditions and then ran low on fuel due to re-routing, forcing the crew to take immediate action,” said Espinosa, the AFRICOM official. “None of the eight personnel on board were injured.”

A Marine colonel in the video last month said the troops were in Uganda to assist the “UPDF,” an acronym that stands for the Ugandan People’s Defense Force — the country’s military. The Marine was wearing gold jump wings on his chest and a flag patch on his right shoulder, both of which raise the prospect that he is in Special Operations. The patch, in particular, is not common to conventional Marine Corps uniforms.

AAR Corps, of Wood Dale, Ill., says on its website that it provides a variety of flights to the Defense Department. Company officials said in an earning statement this year that it is pursuing a variety of contracts with U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Africa Command.

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.
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