Zambian Air Force

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Zambian Air Force
Coat of arms of Zambia.svg
Active 1968 - present
Country Zambia
Branch Air force
Garrison/HQ Lusaka
Erick Chimese[1]
Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha
Roundel Roundel of Zambia.svg
Ensign Zambia Air Force Ensign.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack MiG-21
Bomber MiG-19
Fighter MiG-21MF
Trainer Aermacchi SF.260, Hongdu K-8 Karakorum
Transport Antonov An-26, Harbin Y-12, Xian MA60

The Zambian Air Force (ZAF) is the air force of Zambia and the air operations element of the Zambian Defence Force. Following the creation of the Republic of Zambia in 1964, the former Northern Rhodesian Air Wing was renamed as the Zambia Air Wing which lasted until 1968. The Zambian Air Force was then established.[2]

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. One of the more recent relief operations mounted by the Air Arm occurred in early 2007, when it came to the aid of flood victims in the North-Western Province.

The IISS Military Balance 2013 lists the following aircraft, all with 'very low serviceability':[3]



Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[4] Notes
MiG-21MF  USSR Fighter 10


Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[4] Notes
MiG-21U  USSR Trainer Mongol-A 2
Karakorum-8  China Light attack/Trainer 15
MB-326  Italy Trainer 10
MFI-15 Safari  Sweden Trainer 10
SF-260TW  Italy Trainer 10


Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[4] Notes
Harbin Y-12  China Transport 23
Xian MA60  China Transport 2[5]


Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[4] Notes
Harbin Z-9  China Transport/Attack 7
AW139  Italy VIP Transport 1
Mi-17  USSR Transport 4
Bell 205  USA Transport 13
Bell 212  USA Transport  ?
Bell 47G  USA Trainer 4

Few details are available on force deployment, but combat elements are understood to be located at Lusaka (K-8), Mbala (MB-326) and Mumbwa (MiG-21), with the small fleet of transport aircraft and utility helicopters also reportedly stationed at Lusaka.[6]

Air Force commanders[edit]

  • ? to 1997 Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha[7]
  • c. 2001 Lieutenant General Sande Kayumba
  • ? to 2006 Lieutenant General Christopher Singogo[8]
  • 2006 to 2010 Lieutenant General Samuel Mapala[8][9]
  • 2010 to 2011 Major General Andrew Sakala[9][10]
  • 2011 to present Lieutenant General Erick Chimese[11]