NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu says Government will continue arming defence forces with modern equipment to enable them to efficiently and competently address new security challenges.
The President says the world is becoming more technologically advanced and this is bringing with it new security risks.
“With Zambia’s growing economy coupled with huge investments from local and foreign investors, the need for modern defence systems cannot be over-emphasised,” he said.
The head of State said this yesterday when he commissioned the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) three-storey L-15 simulation training centre whose construction was facilitated by China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).
The centre is aimed at building pilots’ craft and confidence through cost-effective, safe and yet realistic training methods on highly computerised and technologically advanced L-15 fighter ground attack aircraft.
President Lungu said the cost-effective facility is progressive and it enhances the safety of pilots and aircraft, thereby reducing expenditure on unnecessary procurement of aircraft.
He said infrastructure development is one of Government’s priorities as highlighted in Vision 2030 and the Seventh National Development Plan.
“Government will ensure that we have cutting edge infrastructure in ZAF in line with our modernisation programme,” he said.
The President said Government has engaged the private sector to support public infrastructure development through the public private partnership (PPP) as alternative financing for the programme.
President Lungu said the ZAF Twin Palm PPP project, which comprises the construction of social amenities and commercial facilities for personnel and their families in the base, is one such example.
The President commended CATIC for facilitating the state-of-the-art technology and exhibiting professionalism over the years.
“I implore CATIC to enhance skills transfer programmes with ZAF as this will tremendously benefit our country,” he said.
Earlier, ZAF Commander Eric Chimese thanked Government for its continued efforts to modernise the air force.
Lieutenant General Chimese said the commissioning of the L-15 training centre is a milestone as it opens a new chapter in flight training of fighter pilots in ZAF.
“Pilots will now be able to train frequently and improve their skills on the aircraft without flying the actual aircraft, hence reducing costs of running the air force,” he said.
Gen Chimese said ZAF personnel remain highly motivated to continue providing quality airpower to the nation.
He pledged ZAF’s total loyalty to President Lungu as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
And CATIC regional president Li Houlding said the training centre is one of the most advanced in Africa.
“ZAF has impressed us with its professionalism, which has surpassed other air forces,” Mr Li said.