The Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) was founded in 1980 when the country achieved majority rule. It was built from the integration of three belligerent forces that fought each other during the liberation struggle, also known as Chimurenga II. These belligerent forces were: Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) on one side and the Rhodesian Air Force on the other. The structure and equipment of the new force was mostly inherited from the former Rhodesian Air Force as ZANLA and ZIPRA had no properly established air forces.
A brief History
The birth of the Air Force of Zimbabwe in 1980 was characterised by a lot of friction as the Rhodesian Air Force officers and men resisted the integration of the former ZANLA and ZIPRA cadres into the new force. As a result, there was a mass exodus of experienced pilots and technicians in a calculated move to ground the newly founded AFZ. At the same time, the first groups of pilots and technicians from the liberation movements who were trained in other countries.
The remaining former Rhodesian Air Force officers and members were however equally determined to keep the Air Force in their hands, hence they took steps to frustrate the young pilots who had just joined by unfairly grounding them during the standardization phase. The technicians who had joined the Air Force of Zimbabwe after independence equally faced resistance during this integration period. The government however countered these moves by first transferring experienced senior officers from the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to bring in their command and leadership experience. Some of the senior officers transferred included the late Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (retired), Air Marshal Henry Muchena (retired) and Air Marshal Titus Abu Basutu (retired) among others. The move was later followed up by the secondment of a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) senior officer to be the Commander AFZ as well as flying instructors from PAF to facilitate the integration process. As a result, the young pilots were integrated into the AFZ in significant numbers and instructor pilots were also trained. Today the AFZ locally trains its pilots and technicians as well as some from other SADC countries.
As part of the rebuilding exercise, the newly born AFZ had to acquire new aircraft to replace the old and obsolete equipment. Today the AFZ locally trains its pilots and technicians as well as some from other SADC countries.