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Zambia Air Force (ZAF)

The Zambian Air Force (ZAF) is the air force of Zambia and the air operations element of the Zambian Defence Force.

The former Northern Rhodesian Air Wing was renamed as the Zambia Air Wing following the creation of the Republic of Zambia in 1964.

The Northern Rhodesian Air Wing operated mainly in the communication and transport role. From 01 March 1964 it was known as the Northern Rhodesia Air Force (NRAF). It consisted of two squadrons based at Livingstone Airport, with No 1 Squadron operating a transport fleet of four Dakotas and two Hunting Pembrokes C.1 received from Southern Rhodesia and No 2 Squadron a communication and reconnaissance squadron with six De Havilland DHC-2 Beavers. Initial aid for the Air Force came from the UK. This was followed by Italian, Yugoslavian, Chinese and Russian aid.

Then in 1968 the Zambian Air Force was established. The small but rapidly expanding air force put on show some of its new Italian MB326GBs and Yugoslav SOKO Jastreb/Galeb jet fighter/trainers in Lusaka on 24 October 1971.Early in 1980 a squadron of 16 Russian built MiG-21MF single-seat fighters and 2 MiG-21UM two-seat trainers were ordered and delivered. Much has been written about some Zambian MiG-21MFs and 2 x MiG-21UMs being re-furbished by IAI in Israel.

The primary missions of the Air Force are to defend Zambia's borders and protect its airspace. In addition, it provides various forms of air support to other government departments. It also flies reconnaissance, trooping and transport missions for the police and airlifts medical supplies and personnel to inaccessible areas. Finally, the organisation provides emergency transport whenever needed.

Oscar Nkala reported January 27, 2015 that " Air Force commander Brig. Gen. Jabes Zulu said the additional aerial defense assets will include a new radar system to secure national airspace. "The expected machines include additional SF 260TW trainer aircraft, the C-27J transport aircraft, the L-15 fighter aircraft and the Mi-17 helicopters. These machines will greatly improve the aircraft capability of the Air Force and we are indebted to the government for this gesture. Allied to this is the procurement of air defense equipment such as P-18 radars," Zulu said."

As of 2015 the Air Force fleet included 12 MiG 21 aircraft, while its trainer force includes 15 Chinese-made K-8 Karakourm jets, 10 Saab MFI Safari MT-15s, and 10 MB-326 GBs and six SF-260TW aircraft by Alenia Aermacchi. The transport fleet included five German Dornier 28s, and two Chinese Ma-60s and 14 Y-12 aircraft. The transport squadron also had 18 Bell helicopter variants and seven Eurocopter AS 365/AS 565 Panther aircraft. Most of the aircraft had broken down and it remained unclear how many are still operating or in a serviceable condition.

The 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China 2016) kicked off in Zhuhai on 01 November 2016. The exhibition not only brought together many domestic and foreign well-known exhibitors, but also attracted many domestic and foreign customers to visit and to discuss opportunities for cooperation.

Erick Chimese, commander of Zambia Air Force, said that China's L-15 fighter trainer (training and light attack aircraft) is a very advanced multi-purpose flight platform with advanced avionics and weapon systems. As a third-generation aircraft, L-15 has led the Zambia Air Force to the modern aviation stage. In the international market, the advanced trainers mainly include Yakovlev Yak-130 of Russia and M346 of Italy and so on. So why would the Zambia Air Force choose L-15?

Chimese said that as a developing country, Zambia needed to take financial issues into account in the procurement of new aircraft. As the traditional partner of the Zambia Air Force, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) provided us with a very flexible choice, which helped the Zambia government fulfill the goal of procuring advanced fighter in a tight financial situation. Moreover, from the perspective of the national defense development, Zambia needs to have a strong air force to defend the country. L-15 can meet this requirement and help balance operational tasks and training efficiency.

President Edgar Lungu commended the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) 19 December 2015 for the outstanding professional and political neutrality shown throughout the various political transformations the country has undergone. The President urged ZAF to continue being patriotic and loyal to the nation, Constitution and the people of Zambia by placing the nation's interest first and not self. He said the conduct of ZAF personnel had remained above-board and was pleased to note that they were a united force that truly embodied the principle of 'One Zambia One Nation'.

No.?? Squadron MiG-21MF/US
No.?? Squadron F-6/FT-6
No.43 Squadron K-8, MB-326GB, J-1E
No.?? Squadron An-26, MA60, DHC-5D
No.22 Squadron Y-12-II/IV, Do-28D
No.?? Squadron Mi-8, AB-212/205A/206
VIP Flight HS-748, Yak-40, CL-601/604, Beech 90;
Flying Training School SF-260, MFI-17, CJ-6, AB-47G
The first base was Livingstone. Then there was a move of the transport element to Lusaka International Airport. As part of the co-operation agreement with Italy and Yuogoslavia, I suspect that the Italians built the new base at Mumbwa, 100 miles east of Lusaka, and the Yugoslavians built the base at Mbala, 650 mile north east of Lusaka, on the Tanzanian border, previously known as Abercorn.

In December 2015 the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) embarked on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) program aimed at building support infrastructure like hotels close to messes. ZAF Commander, Eric Chimese said the venture would enable ZAF to raise finances to be used for routine financial requirements.

Lieutenant General Chimese was speaking in Lusaka on Wednesday during his end of year address to ZAF personnel. "We have reached the negotiation stage of the PPP process and we have a team of experts from the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), Ministry of Works, Ministry of Defence and ZAF doing the negotiations with our would be partners," he said.

Lt Gen Chimese said the PPP venture would reduce over dependence on the Treasury by the Air Force. The PPP would help in the construction of modern shopping malls, hotels, conference centers, offices for lease and houses for sale.

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