Zimbabwe is seeking technical assistance from the Nigerian Air Force to upgrade its air capabilities.
The Commander, Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ), Air Marshal Elson Moyo, has expressed his country’s desire to explore technical assistance from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The Zimbabwean air chief is on a week-long visit to Nigeria, during which he will be visiting some NAF units, including the North East.
This request comes as a result of Zimbabwe’s need to replace its aging fleet of aircraft and to expand its operational capacity to meet the increasing demands of the nation. With the assistance of the Nigerian Air Force, Zimbabwe hopes to improve the safety of its citizens, ensure the smooth running of its economy, and increase its defense capabilities.
Moyo made the request when he visited the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, at NAF headquarters in Abuja.
The Director, Public Relations and Information, NAF, Air Commodore Ayodele Famuyiwa, made this known in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Zimbabwe air chief requested for technical support in the areas of research and development, unmanned aerial vehicle technology as well as operation and maintenance of F-7 AirGuard and Mi-35 aircraft.
Moyo said the identified areas for collaboration were of common and peculiar aviation interests to Zimbabwe and Nigeria, whose air forces operate some similar aircraft.
The Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) is known to operate a modest fast jet force comprised of some nine Chengdu F-7NII and FT-7N fighter aircraft and ten Hongdu K-8E jet trainers acquired from China in the late 1980s and mid-2000s respectively
The Nigerian Air Force has the experience and expertise to provide Zimbabwe with the necessary technical assistance. As a leader in modern aviation, the Nigerian Air Force is renowned for its advanced aircraft and weaponry, as well as its highly skilled personnel. Its aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, making them ideal for Zimbabwe’s needs. Additionally, the Nigerian Air Force is well-versed in the efficient and safe operation of aircraft and can provide Zimbabwe with the necessary training and support.
Furthermore, the Nigerian Air Force can provide the necessary logistical support to ensure the successful implementation of Zimbabwe’s new aviation capabilities. This includes the provision of spare parts, maintenance and repair services, fuel, and other materials necessary for the safe operation of aircraft. Additionally, the Nigerian Air Force can provide Zimbabwe with the necessary personnel to maintain and operate its new aircraft.
The Nigerian Air Force is uniquely positioned to help Zimbabwe with its aviation needs. Its experience and expertise in the field make it an ideal partner in this endeavor. Additionally, its commitment to the safety and security of its citizens ensures that Zimbabwe’s air capabilities will be of the highest quality.
Moyo said NAF, within a short time, had recorded remarkable feats in its transformation effort to develop indigenous capacity.
This, according to him, provides a motivation for the AFZ to look inward as part of efforts to address the technical challenges arising from sanctions imposed on his country, which have limited the ability of AFZ to acquire basic aircraft parts and other technical aids necessary for operational efficiency.
Moyo also commended the NAF for its support to AFZ in the past, acknowledging the high quality training given to the first batch of Zimbabwean pilots trained in the 1980s by the NAF.
This, according to him, informs the decision by AFZ to seek improved synergy and collaboration with the NAF, with respect to capacity development.
In his remarks, the Nigerian air chief, Amao, said the NAF was ready to forge mutually benefitting partnership with the AFZ.
Amao said NAF was currently in partnership with many countries in Africa and beyond, adding that it was willing to partner with others who would seek collaboration with the Service.
According to him, improved synergy among African countries is the solution to many of the challenges, including security, facing the continent.
Amao added that collaboration in the areas of training, technical assistance and technology transfer would boost the capacity of African countries to be self-reliant and independent in driving progress and development on the continent.
The Zimbabwe Air Force has suffered a series of crashes over the past few years.
Two years ago, an Air Force of Zimbabwe Agusta Bell 412 (AB 412) helicopter crashed on Friday, 23 April killing three crew members and a child on the ground as it came down on a house.
The Agusta Bell 412 (AB 412) helicopter from Number 8 Sqn crashed in Hukuru area near Harare. Four crew members and one civilian on the ground died.
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.
Just two months ago, a 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.