The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), an official army of South Sudan, has admitted to have recently acquire supplies of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles from an unidentified source, local media reports.
A high ranking military officer in the army and a longtime military ally of President Salva Kiir told Sudan Tribune on the New Year Eve that the army had obtained dozens of shoulder missiles. “There is a great improvements in terms of weapons and training and we hope that the year 2016 will be a year in which the general command and the government will pay a significant attention to our strategic and master plan to modernize and professionalize the army in order to be a conventional army capable of defending the country, lives of our people and their resources,” the high ranking military officer was quoted as saying by Sudan Tribune.
Although, the original source of weapon supply is not known yet, the official said that the delivery to the army has happened via neighbouring Mombasa port of Kenya through Uganda.
However, critics of the government of president Kiir have pointed fingers to China, which is widely believed to have in the past sold huge consignments of assorted weapons, including amphibian tanks to the government for fighting the rebels allied to the former vice-president, turned armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, according to the report.
Government hardliners were exploring options to settle the conflict through military option with the opposition and had therefore pressed for such missiles portable air-defense systems to be acquired.
In recent days, the government has increased its military activity against the opposition and received various weapons. Precise types of weapons and amount received are subject of speculations. But, according to military experts and those with working security knowledge of South Sudan, say that the weapons range from the primitive to highly sophisticated types of weapons found in China.
Many experts doubt that the government may have enough technical knowledge and necessary training to operate them effectively and with discipline.
Multiple military and security officials were quoted as saying in the report that the army has acquired sophisticated shoulder-fired Stinger missiles, which can hit planes flying over its airspace.