The Zambian Air Force has taken delivery of a new Gulfstream G650 VIP transport aircraft from Israel.
The aircraft arrived in the Zambian capital Lusaka via Israel late last month. The aircraft (AF001) has cost an approximate $65 million and is fitted with self-defense systems, Defenceweb reported Tuesday.
In Zambia Air Force markings, it was seen in November arriving in Basel, Switzerland, for an interior upgrade at AMAC Aerospace after flying from Gulfstream Aerospace’s Savannah, Georgia, facility. It was first seen at Savannah on 24 July 2018, the report stated.
The G650 takes over from the Challenger 604 (9J-ONE) used by the Zambian government for VIP transport.
In October last year Zambian media reported that the government had bought five aircraft from Russia, two from Italy and one from Israel. One of the Russian aircraft is a Sukhoi SuperJet whilst the two aircraft from Italy are C-27J Spartan transports. Subsequent media reports stated that Sukhoi would only supply a single VIP-configured SuperJet for President Edgar Lungu.
The SuperJet will be delivered this year at a cost of $45-49 million, Sukhoi vice president Yevgeny Andrachnikov was quoted as saying by the news portal at the Russian Business Aviation Exhibition last year.
Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary Stardy Mwale said the Ministry of Defence through the Zambia Air Force has purchased five aircraft and explained that one would be used for VVIPs, one would be used to maintain airspace and monitor poaching, while the other three would be for commercial purposes.
In October 2018, Zambia’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement that the Zambia Air Force, in 2012, embarked on a programme to replace its aging fleet of transport and fighter aircraft and other associated air defence equipment. “This procurement of aircraft and associated air assets is a lengthy process and still ongoing due to the time it takes to select appropriate aircraft and equipment and the laborious legal procedures.”