An Air Force of Zimbabwe SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 (AFZ) trainer aircraft crashed in the Mlezu College general area, near Gweru, killing two pilots onboard today. The aircraft was on a routine training sortie when it hit a power line and crashed.
The police are still withholding the deceased’s names until their next of kin has been notified.
In his condolence message, AFZ Commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo said a dark cloud had engulfed the AFZ following the unfortunate training accident.
“We have learnt, with heavy hearts, of the passing on of two of our pilots after a training accident. Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased pilots,” he said.
“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased for this sad loss of AFZ pilots who were on duty and playing their part to ensure that the AFZ fulfils its mandate to defend Zimbabwe’s airspace and territorial integrity.”
In 2020, an AFZ instructor and a female student pilot died when a training plane they were flying developed a technical fault and crashed at Dabuka in Somabula on the outskirts of Gweru.
The two were on routine training at Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base when the accident occurred.
The SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 (now Leonardo SF-260) is an Italian light aircraft which has been commonly marketed as a military trainer and aerobatics aircraft.
The Zimbabwean Armed Forces have been struggling with old and obsolete platforms for several years, similarly, in September 2014, the AFZ lost another SF-260 in a fatal crash during a routine training mission.
In 1997 Paris Salon, Zimbabwe ordered six SF.260F aircraft, becoming the first operator of this new model. All six aircraft were delivered in 1998.