It appears the Zambian Air Force has taken delivery of its two C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, after they were ordered in 2015.
One of Zambia’s C-27Js, registration AF003, was seen at Lanseria International Airport on 21 August, indicating deliveries have been concluded. The first aircraft was spotted in July 2018 in Italy and the second was seen undergoing test flights in December last year at Torino Airport. It was still in Italy in mid-February this year, but in full Zambian colours with registration AF002.
Zambian C-27Js have registrations AF002 and AF003 as the serial AF001 is allocated to the Zambian Air Force’s new Gulfstream 650ER jet that first flew in February 2018 and was delivered to Zambia on 28 February this year. It is believed to have been ordered for $65 million via Israel, where it was fitted with a self-defence system. The G650 takes over from the Challenger 604 (9J-ONE) used by the Zambian government for VIP transport.
In Zambian service, the C-27Js will most likely replace the Air Force’s BAe 748s and supplement its Y-12 and MA60 transport aircraft. They will be based at Lusaka/Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, according to Scramble Magazine.
The Spartan was developed from the G.222/C-27A, using the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules to provide 30% lower operating costs than the G.222 and 35% greater range. It first flew on September 24, 1999.
The Spartan offers the ability to carry up to 60 troops in high density configuration and a maximum of 46 paratroopers. In the medical role 36 stretchers and six attendants can be carried. Normal payload is 9 000 kg for the C-27J, although maximum payload is more than 10 tons.
Elsewhere in Africa, Chad, Morocco and Kenya have ordered C-27Js (four, two and three respectively). Chad and Morocco have received their aircraft while Kenya’s aircraft are destined for imminent delivery, with flight testing last year.
Zambia has acquired a number of new aircraft in recent years and is expecting more. In October 2018 Zambian media reported that the government had bought five aircraft from Russia, two from Italy and one from Israel. One of the Russian aircraft is a Sukhoi SuperJet whilst the two aircraft from Italy are the C-27J Spartan transports. Subsequent media reports stated that Sukhoi would only supply a single VIP-configured SuperJet for President Edgar Lungu.
The SuperJet will be delivered this year at a cost of $45-49 million, Sukhoi vice president Yevgeny Andrachnikov said at the Russian Business Aviation Exhibition last year.
Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary Stardy Mwale last year said the Ministry of Defence through the Zambia Air Force had purchased five aircraft and explained that one would be used for VVIPs, one would be used to maintain airspace and monitor poaching, while the other three would be for commercial purposes.