Africa Defense Forum
ADF is a professional military magazine published quarterly by U.S. Africa Command to provide an international forum for African security professionals. ADF covers topics such as counter terrorism strategies, security and defense operations, transnational crime, and all other issues affecting peace, stability, and good governance on the African continent.

$80 Million Grant to Fund Helicopters for Zambia’s Crisis Response


The United States in mid-September committed $80 million to the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) to supply four Bell 412EP helicopters to help the country respond to crises.

The grant includes three years of service, parts and training. U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), announced the donation in September at the 2023 Africa Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. Zambia and AFRICOM hosted the event.

The helicopters will help Zambia continue to support domestic needs, enhance regional security and participate in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Zambia Air Force Maj. Gen. Oscar Nyoni thanked the U.S. government for the donation during a news conference, while Zambia Army Commander Lt. Gen. Dennis Alibuzwi praised U.S. military efforts in the country.

“The U.S. Army … has been instrumental in the training of our Zambian battalion contingents during predeployment training,” Alibuzwi said.

Manufactured by U.S. aerospace and defense company Bell Textron, the twin-engine Bell 412EPs are considered workhorse aircraft built to operate in extreme environments.


The helicopters feature all-composite four-blade main rotor systems, two-blade tail rotors, skid-type landing gear, a semi-monocoque tail boom, aluminum alloy fuselage, seating for 13 passengers and four panoramic windows.

The helicopters can be used to respond to natural disasters and perform emergency evacuations.

Since 2014, the U.S. government has invested more than $8 million to help train Zambian battalions before deployment to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, The Conversation reported. Zambia is one of the top 20 troop-contributing countries to U.N. missions, with nearly 1,000 peacekeepers deployed worldwide.

“We are extremely proud and grateful for their service … not only the professionalism, the excellent service and dedication and commitment, outstanding performance when it comes to conduct and discipline, which is much appreciated,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said during a 2023 visit to Zambia.

Zambian troops have been in the embattled CAR since 2015. In the CAR, Zambian forces grapple with challenges posed by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida, as well as Russian Wagner Group mercenaries, who have been accused of committing human rights abuses there.

The ZAF has supported the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) since early 2022. SAMIM forces are deployed in the war-torn Cabo Delgado region, where its 1,900 personnel have helped improve security.


Critical roads have reopened, and some commerce and humanitarian aid has begun to return, along with some basic services. Most important, about 350,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes.

The rebels, however, have shifted to guerilla tactics with smaller, mobile cells. They also are executing more sophisticated strikes. In mid-June, the first use of a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) was reported in the province. Remote-controlled IEDs allow for tighter control of roads and help set up ambushes.

In late June, the ZAF deployed a force protection unit to SAMIM. The unit will handle military base protection, and secure storage facilities and air assets, Zambia Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Colin Barry said in a report by the Club of Mozambique newspaper. ZAF Chief of Operations Brig. Gen. Arthur Kalaluka was confident the unit was ready for combat after its pre-deployment training.

In July, the Southern African Development Community voted to extend its military mission in Cabo Delgado by a year to July 2024.

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