The Zambia National Defence Force paraded previously unseen military hardware during a parade in the capital Lusaka, including truck-mounted mortars and armoured personnel carriers.
The country held its national defence day on 13 June to celebrate the founding of its military on 13 June 1976, with the theme ‘preservation of national peace and security through patriotism and loyalty’.
President Edgar Lungu said armed forces day was instituted following the unification of the Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force and the Zambia National Service by the first Republican President Dr Kenneth David Kaunda to form the Zambia National Defence Force.
“In the past the Zambia Defence Force Day has been commemorated by way of sports competitions among the defence force wings. However, today, the event is unique as a military parade has been put up comprising a march past, a drive past of military vehicles and equipment, and fly past by the Zambia Air Force.”
In his speech, Lungu said his government has embarked on the modernisation of the defence force to bring it to the level of other modern defence forces. “As such, my government will continue to support the growth of the defence force by acquiring modern equipment to ensure efficient and effective operations.
“The acquisition of this modern equipment is a long time investment and at great cost to my government and the people of Zambia. Therefore, I expect you to take care of this equipment by ensuring high standards of maintenance and safety.”
Amongst the equipment on display during the parade were half a dozen SPEAR Mk 2 mobile mortar systems mounted on Tata LPTA 713TC 4×4 military trucks. SPEAR is a vehicle-based soft-recoil 120 mm mortar developed by Elbit Systems.
The SPEAR Mk 2 is a modernised version of the battle-proven Spear mortar system. The modular mortar system allows for the integration of command and control systems for autonomous operation. The system features a longer barrel and offers a high recoil reduction capability compared to its predecessor. The system can be mounted on HMMWVs, jeeps and other rapidly deployed wheeled vehicles.
Another item of Israeli-supplied weaponry was Elbit Systems Atmos M-46 self-propelled howitzers, which were also not known to be in Zambian military service. The Atmos M-46 features a Russian M-46 130 mm howitzer with a rate of fire of 6 rounds/min and a maximum range of about 38 km, mounted on a 6×6 TATRA chassis with an armoured cab. Six were seen in the parade.
Three Elbit Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles were also towed past – according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s arms transfers database, these were acquired in 2016/17, and were first seen in 2018. Also on display were two Elbit Skylark unmanned aerial vehicles.
Other equipment observed during the parade included Rapier surface-to-air-missile systems towed by Saymar Musketeer 4×4 armoured vehicles, BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, BRDM-2 armoured cars, BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers, WZ-551 armoured personnel carriers, Ratel infantry fighting vehicles, PT-76 amphibious tanks, Type 59 main battle tanks, Ural trucks, D-30 122 mm howitzers, patrol boats, and around a dozen GAZ Tigr armoured personnel vehicles operated by the Special Forces.
Air defence equipment comprised towed ZSU-23-2 anti-aircraft artillery, ZPU-4 14.5 mm towed anti-aircraft guns, M-1939 37 mm anti-aircraft artillery, ZSU-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and SA-3 (S-125 Pechora) surface-to-air missiles.
Israeli-made small arms were also seen being carried by the Zambian Army Special Forces Group in the form of IWI Tavor assault rifles fitted with grenade launchers and Galil sniper rifles. The Zambian Army was already known to use Galil ACE rifles.
Aircraft seen in the flypast included AB205, AB412 and Z-9 helicopters, SF-260 trainers, MA60, Y-12 and Caravan transports, K-8 jet trainers, L-15 lead-in fighter-trainers, and CL-604 and AW139 VIP aircraft.
Apart from new equipment for the Zambian military, the Zambian police recently received new hardware, including CS/VP3 armoured personnel carriers, Delong F3000-based riot control vehicles, ambulances etc.