PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has officially opened the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Simulator Training Centre in Lusaka, pledging the Government's commitment to equip the defence forces with modern tools to enable them efficiently and competently combat new security threats.
The systems in the three-storey Simulator Training Centre at the ZAF Lusaka base are capable of monitoring aircraft from the ground and making it possible for the ground crew to easily detect faults and rectify them, besides training on the ground without taking to the air.
President Lungu said yesterday that training on the ground saved on fuel and that the cost-effective facility was progressive as it enhanced the safety of pilots and aircraft, thereby reducing expenditure on unnecessary procurement of aircraft.
"The world is becoming more technologically advanced and 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 overemphasised.
"In this regard, the Patriotic Front Government is committed to equipping the defence forces with modern equipment to enable them to address new security challenges efficiently and competently. Undoubtedly, this new facility is a milestone and a show of my Government's commitment to making a Smart Zambia," the Head of State said.
President Lungu said the ultra-modern centre was aimed at building pilots' craft and confidence through cost-effective, safe and yet realistic training methods of highly computerised and technologically advanced L-15 Fighter ground attack aircraft.
The President said infrastructure development was one of his Government's priorities as highlighted in the Vision 2030 and the 2017-2021 Seventh National Development Plan, and that infrastructure was central to Zambia achieving sustainable socio-economic development.
He thanked the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) for constructing the Centre, the L-15 Hangar as well as rendering support in constructing the ZAF hospital outpatient department at its headquarters and the banquet hall at the ZAF Lusaka base.
ZAF Commander Eric Chimese said the opening of the Simulator Training Centre redefined and opened a new chapter in flying training of the Air Force fighter pilots, and thanked the Government for its continued support to equip and modernise ZAF.
"Your Excellency, despite the various challenges we continue to face as an Air Force, I would like to report to you that our personnel remain committed and highly motivated to continue providing quality air power to the nation at large," Lieutenant General Chimese. "We pledge our total and unflinching loyalty to you, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Zambia."
Gen Chimese said ZAF's resolve to create a lean, well-equipped, well-trained, professional and efficient tactical Air Force capable of responding to the air power needs of the 21st century Zambia remained unshaken.
CATIC regional president Li Houlding said the official opening of the centre was a momentous and historic day as it marked a new era in the development of ZAF as the facility was one of the most advanced in Africa, which came with various benefits.