in Defence / Features

ZAF remembers the Spartans

Posted 22 June 2018 · Add Comment

The Zambian Air Force (ZAF) will substantially improve its transport capabilities with the arrival of two Leonardo C-27J Spartan tactical airlift aircraft.

The aircraft’s manufacturer has had two C-27Js for an unidentified African air arm on its order book since 2015. In December last year, the ZAF’s deputy commander, Major-General David Muma, was reported by the Lusaka Times as mentioning the imminent arrival of the new aircraft.
The newspaper said he made the comments while attending the annual officers’ ball at the ZAF’s Livingstone Air Base.
Thanking the Zambian Government for its efforts to improve the force’s capabilities, Muma was quoted as saying: “In the first quarter of 2018, two Spartan aircraft will be delivered and this will increase the flying capacity of air transport support command.”
The two C-27Js will considerably enhance the ZAF’s transport capabilities. At present, the ZAF’s transport component consists of five elderly German Dornier Do28 utility transports, eight Chinese-built Harbin Y-12 light transport aircraft, and a single Xian MA-60 utility twin turboprop.
The Y-12s can carry a maximum of 17 passengers and a maximum payload of 5.7 tonnes. The C-27Js, however, are considerably more capable, with the ability to carry up to 60 troops (or 45 paratroopers), with a cargo payload under tactical conditions of 8 tonnes. This rises to 11 tonnes if operating into normal runways.
The aircraft can operate into rough, unprepared airstrips and has a large rear loading ramp that can be opened in flight and used to air-drop supplies.
Zambia’s aircraft will also be able to handle missions such as transport for United Nations personnel in areas of tension in the continent.
Leonardo, which did not reply to requests for information on the Zambian aircraft, has sole more than 80 C-27Js to 14 air arms around the world. In Africa, Morocco and Chad have also acquired the type.
The new transport aircraft are the latest arrivals for the steadily-modernising ZAF, which has also taken delivery in the past two years of six Hongdu L-15Z supersonic multirole aircraft that can be used in the advanced trainer or light attack roles.
 

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