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01 Apr 2024

Zambian Air Force inducts new Enstrom 480B and Bell 412 helicopters

Zambian Air Force inducts new Enstrom 480B and Bell 412 helicopters
Recently inducted Zambia Air Force Enstrom 48B helicopter. Source: Military Africa
The Zambia Air Force (ZAF) has recently enhanced its operational capabilities with the induction of new Enstrom 480B and Bell 412 helicopters. This move signifies a significant upgrade in ZAF’s rotary wing fleet and is expected to bolster the nation’s defense and emergency response potential.

Induction of Enstrom 480B Helicopters

On March 25, at the Air Force Base Lusaka, ZAF inducted two Enstrom 480B turbine helicopters into service. The ZAF Commander, Lieutenant General Oscar Msitu Nyoni, highlighted the versatility of these helicopters, stating they would serve in training pilots, search and rescue missions, medical evacuations, reconnaissance operations, anti-poaching, and combating smuggling activities. The Enstrom 480B is also tasked with a crucial role in ensuring food security by aiding in the surveillance against mealie meal smuggling and illegal mining.

Expansion with Bell 412EP Helicopters

Following closely, on March 13, ZAF expanded its fleet with the induction of two Bell 412EP helicopters, presented by the Minister of Defence Ambrose Lufuma. These helicopters are expected to be game-changers, offering strategic advantages across a range of scenarios, including military operations and disaster response. The ZAF has an order of four Bell 412EP helicopters, with the first two delivered in early March, backed by an $80 million grant from the United States.

A Legacy of Bell/Agusta-Bell Helicopters

The ZAF has a long-standing relationship with Bell/Agusta-Bell helicopters, having operated various models over the years. In 2021, three Bell/Agusta-Bell 412SP helicopters joined the fleet, enhancing the existing squadron of Agusta-Bell 205s. The ZAF’s diverse helicopter range also includes Mil Mi-171Sh and Mi-171E troop transport and assault helicopters, acquired from Russia.

Commitment to Training and Equipment

The ZAF’s dedication to comprehensive training and readiness is evident in its recent procurement of a medium utility helicopter and the delivery of a second-hand Bell 212 from the United States. The ZAF’s defense ministry also signed a contract for two Enstrom 480B helicopters, which come equipped with advanced features such as cargo hooks, camera hard points, Garmin avionics, and glass panels, facilitating pilot training and operational efficiency.

The acquisition of these helicopters, coordinated by South Africa’s Safomar Aviation Group, marks a significant step in modernizing the ZAF’s capabilities and underscores its commitment to maintaining national security and supporting civil operations.


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