TIME PUBLISHED – Friday, April 13, 2012
THE Government has procured eight K-8P
jets to improve operations of the Zambia Air Force (ZAF). The aircraft were purchased from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC). ZAF Commander Eric Chimese said the jets would enhance the military wing’s ability to monitor the stability of the country.
Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba said the Government would also procure helicopters soon.Mr Mwamba said during handover of the jets at Mumbwa airbase yesterday that the Government was committed to ensuring that peace continued to prevail in the country.
The pilots of the jets showcased various aerobatic displays such as flushing of different colours that connotated the Zambian and Chinese national flags. The minister said ZAF should utilise the aircrafts to defend and protect the country. “For the lifespan of the aircraft to be guaranteed, spares for maintenance need to be provided as and when required. We call upon CATIC to render due and timely support in this regard,” he said.
In November last year, there was another handover of a fleet of upgraded K-8 aircraft by CATIC to ZAF. Lieutenant General, Chimese said Zambia’s flourishing sectors like mining, had put pressure on ZAF to intensively monitor those wanting to bring instability and sabotage the mining activities. “We are witnessing increased mining activities and as ZAF, we have to ensure that we monitor those coming and going out of the country,” he said.
He said the inventory of Chinese aircraft ranged from transportation aircraft to fighter jet trainers which include MA-60, Y-12 and K-8 aircraft.
CATIC vice-president Liu Jianhai said his company had provided Zambia with different aircrafts and other services since 1979. He was happy that the pleasant relations Zambia and China had continued.