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Swaziland Air Wing

The air wing is mainly used for transporting the King as well as cargo, and personnel; surveying land with search and rescue functions, and mobilizing in case of a national emergency. The Air Wing of the SDF is based at Matsapa Airfield and by 1990 was equipped with two IAI-201 Arava light STOL transports. These aircraft were leased from Israel. One had no armaments and was used to support the civil government. The other had ordnance racks and a pilot's lateral gunsight. Israel reportedly agreed to sell Swaziland machinegun ammunition and rocket launchers for the two Arava aircraft. Four pilots and seven maintenance personnel had been trained in Israel.

South African instructors are training Air Wing personnel in subjects such as air operations and aircraft maintenance. As of 1990, three South African trained pilots were instrument rated. In November 1986, eight pilots were being trained by a South African contractor but only four were expected to graduate. The contractor provided two instructor pilots, mechanics, and aircraft.

Both Arava 201 have crashed; the first was on a demo flight in the 1980s, leaving both pilots dead. The second was lost in 2004, after bad weather caused the pilots to miss the runway and crash into a sugar cane field. Although no injuries were reported, the incident left the air force temporarily crippled.

In December 2008, the GKOS sought to purchase approximately 60 million USD worth of military equipment, including helicopters, vehicles, weapons, and ammunition from a British weapons manufacturer. The British government denied the request over end-use concerns. In documents requesting permission to purchase the equipment, Swaziland's Ministry of Defense stated that the equipment was for use by the Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force (USDF) on United Nations peacekeeping deployment in Africa. It is unclear whether this was the intended purpose, or whether GKOS was attempting to build up domestic capability to deal with unrest, or was possibly acting as an intermediary for a third party.

The purchase application, signed by Ministry of Defense Principal Secretary John Kunene and Deputy USDF Major General Jeffrey Tshabalala, included requests for 3 Bell Model UH-1H helicopters. Swaziland's Ministry of Defense stated in the purchase documents that the equipment was for use by the Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force on United Nations peacekeeping deployment in Africa.

A McDonnell Douglas MD-87 was delivered to the country on April 25, 2012. The aircrafts previous owners were Japan Airline Domestic and Japan Air System.Japan Airline Domestic is said to have used it for three years and retired it in 2007. The government stood by its position that it was a gift from developmental partners of the kingdom [a "gift" from a "development partner" is a bribe]. According to Dlamini, these development partners have elected to remain anonymous. Reasons had not been given. It is allegedly on lease from SG Air Leasing, a Singaporean company dealing with various types of aircraft on a wide scale.





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