ZAF shows off latest fighter jet at Africa defence expo

By Nation Reporter

ZAMBIA Air Force is taking part in the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2016 expo being held at Waterkloof air base in South Africa.

Zambia Air Force has partnered with China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) to participate as a direct exhibition in the aerospace and defence expo under the theme ‘‘Rising to new dimensions and beyond’’.

ZAF head of public relations and foreign liaison directorate, Lieutenant Colonel Mutale Kasoma, said ZAF was exhibiting the L-15 advanced fighter trainer (AFT) aircraft in both flight demonstrations and static display in an expo which started yesterday and will end on18 September.

Lt Colonel Kasoma said that in its quest to transform and modernize itself, ZAF was the first air force in Africa to acquire the L-15 AFT.

Lt Col Kasoma said chief of operations Brigadier General Kapotwe Chintu said ZAF’s participation in the 2016 AAD expo was an opportunity to showcase the force’s first step towards the realization of its Vision 2020 of a lean, well equipped, well trained, professional and efficient tactical air force capable of responding to the needs of the 21st Century Zambia.

‘‘ZAF last participated in the ADD expo in 2000 when we exhibited the K-8E fighter aircraft. Our participation in this year’s air show is part of the air force’s modernization programme under the leadership of air force Commander Lt General Eric Mwaba Chimese,’’ said Brig General Chintu.

He said soon after Independence, ZAF’s role was essentially a transport force, however the Government policy to assist neighbouring countries attain independence necessitated the quick transformation to a fighter force and that a number of squadrons and air defence units were formed and equipped.

Col Kasoma noted that with passage of time, most of the equipment became obsolete and infrastructure deteriorated and the country’s weakened economy could not do much to help maintain or re-equip the air force.

He said with recent strides in economic development and the growing need to protect the ever growing investments and increase investor confidence, the Zambian Government had embarked on a deliberate programme to modernize and re-equip the Zambia Air Force and the L-15 was a product of that initiative.

Col Kasoma said the AVIC Hongdu manufactured L-15 ASA 3rd generation fly-by-wire advanced fighter trainer had the following characteristics: take-off speed 133knots, landing speed 121knots, aircraft ceiling 42, 650ft, endurance with drop tanks3.65hrs, endurance without drop tanks 2.26hrs with a maximum  take-off  weight of 22, 9725lbs and aircraft range of 1,533 nautical miles.

He said the aircraft’s advanced avionics system armament include guided glide bombs, anti-runway bombs, dummy bombs, serial bombs , short range air-to-air missile , HF rocket launcher and fire control radar with a range of 60 nautical miles.

‘‘This kind of interaction is important for ZAF in order to collaborate with other defence forces in the sub region to enhance security. Guaranteeing peace and security requires concerted effort and ZAF heeded President Edgar Lungu and Commandeer in Chief’s directive at the air force annual ball last year to form strategic partnerships for mutual benefit and engage our cooperating partners for logistical support at the 2016 AAD,’’ Lt Colonel Kasoma said.