Zambian President Edgar Lungu has commissioned a simulator centre for the Zambian Air Force’s recently acquired L-15 jets.
The centre was commissioned on 5 September by Lungu in the capital Lusaka. It was built by China National Aero-Technician Import and Export cooperation (CATIC), “who have remained our faithful partners,” Lungu said.
“This centre aims at building pilot’s craft and confidence through cost effective, safe and realistic training methods on highly computerized and technologically advanced L-15 fighter ground attack aircraft. Let me urge you all to ensure that all ZAF diligently look after this expensive equipment,” Lungu said.
“Not so long ago, I was here to officially open another state of the art facility, the L-15 hangar, constructed by CATIC, a company under the umbrella of Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC),” he said, noting that CATIC helped construct the Zambian Air Force out-patient department at Air Force Headquarters, which was opened last year, and has assisted with the construction of a banquet hall at the Air Force base in Lusaka.
“The acquisition of smart technology and assets which guarantee operational capability without compromising standards, is in line with the Zambia Air Force’s vision of creating “a lean, well equipped, well trained, professional and efficient tactical air force, capable of responding to the air power needs of the 21st century Zambia.
“The Patriotic Front Government is committed to equipping the defence forces with modern equipment to enable them address new security challenges efficiently and competently. Undoubtedly, this new facility is a milestone and a show of my government’s commitment to making a smart Zambia. The ZAF ambitious programme has seen the construction of office buildings, aircraft hangars, messing facilities and road tarring in ZAF bases among others,” Lungu said.
Zambia received its first L-15s in July 2016 from Hongdu, with the type entering service with 15 Squadron at Air Defence Command, based at Lusaka-Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Hongdu is part of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
Zambia reportedly ordered six L-15s in early 2014 at a cost of around $100 million. The L-15 was chosen over competitors such as the Yak-130 and M-346 due to its lower operating and acquisition costs. At least four have been delivered so far.
The supersonic L-15 was developed to meet the Chinese Air Force and Navy lead-in fighter trainer requirements. In Chinese service it will be called the JL-10.
The L-15 is powered by two Ivchenko Progress AL-222K-25F turbofan engines fitted with after-burners, giving a top speed of more than Mach 1.4. Four under-wing and two wing-tip hard-points can carry around 3 000 kilogrammes of ordnance.