The Zambian Air Force will soon take delivery of six SF-260TW trainer aircraft from Alenia-Aermacchi.
The last of the six was seen undergoing flight testing at Alenia’s factory in Venegono, Italy, in December ahead of delivery. Some of the six may have already been delivered by 2016.
Addressing senior Army, Air Force and Defense Ministry officials at the Air Force Headquarters Annual Ball on 26 December 2014, Zambia Air Force commander, Brigadier General Jabes Zulu, said additional aircraft would soon be delivered to the air force, including SF-260TWs, a C-27J transport aircraft, L-15 fighter trainers and 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,” Zulu said.
The Zambian Air Force received six SF-260TWs in 2012 and these are operated by its Training Squadron. Other trainer aircraft in its inventory include 15 K-8s, ten MB-326GBs and ten MFI-15s, although not all of these are believed to be serviceable.
A major boost to the Air Force’s fleet will be six L-15 Falcon lead-in fighter trainers from Hongdu Aircraft Industry Group. Six Zambian Air Force pilots completed training on the type at Hongdu’s airfield in China on 28 December, along with maintenance technicians.
Zambia reportedly ordered six L-15s in early 2014 at a cost of around $100 million.
Zambia’s small air force has few combat aircraft, with only a dozen MiG-21s and a dozen J-6s in its fleet, although it is doubtful that the J-6s are airworthy. According to the Jane’s information group, Zambia’s air force is hampered by a lack of spares and a shortage of flying hours. Although it has sufficient capacity to transport troops and cargo, its combat capability is very limited.