Namibian Air Force

The Namibia Air Force was commissioned on 13 March 2005 at Grootfontein Air Force Base.[2] Following the independence of Namibia from South Africa in 1990, the Air defense wing of the defense forces were established on 23 July 1994.[3] The policy, mission statements and concept of operations envisage the development of an Air Force to operate in support of the Army and the Navy.

Namibian Air Force
Namibian Air Force emblem.svg
Badge of the Namibian Air Force
Founded23 July 1994; 26 years ago (1994-07-23)
Country Namibia
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size1200 personnel [1]
43 Aircraft
Part ofNamibian Defence Force
HeadquartersKaribib Air Force Base
Air Vice Marshal Teofilus Shaende
Fin flashFlag of Namibia.svg

Five separate roles for Air Force are; surveillance, transport of personnel and transport of supplies/equipment; support to the civil authorities or civil community, and training.[4]

With Grootfontein as the main Air Force Base, expansion projects are underway to expand the Keetmanshoop air base, as well as construct a new base at Karibib. This was reported by The Namibian on 20 June 2008. The Air Force Headquarters are now based at Karibib Air Force Base.[5]

The policy for the Air Force is as follows

To acquire dedicated air assets to undertake the surveillance and transport tasks. The MOD and NDF will train and employ their own pilots and technicians. Co-operation and co-ordination with other Ministries may extend to making such assets available for non-defence tasking. In addition, consideration will be given to arrangements whereby private and other national air assets could be employed where appropriate or necessary.


After commissioning in 1994 air wing was made up of two squadrons, VR-1 squadron and Helicopter Squadron[6] and the first aircraft of the force were six Cessna O-2A donated by the United States government. The US also offered two advisors to train four pilots, six co-pilots and seven Namibian Mechanics.[7] In December 1994 a total of four Cheetah and Chetak light utility helicopters bought from HAL where delivered to the then Air Wing at Eros Airport. The Indian air force also provided a chief engineer, five technicians and two pilots to train Namibian crews for at least six months. Two Harbin Y-12's were delivered in December 1997.


An F-7 on take off
A Harbin Y12 on final approach
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Chengdu F-7 China fighter 6[8]
Harbin Y-12 China transport 2[8]
Antonov An-12 Ukraine transport 1[8]
Mil Mi-8 Russia utility / transport 2[8]
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack 2[8]
Aérospatiale Alouette II France liaison / utility 1[8]
Aérospatiale Alouette III France liaison / utility 3[8]
Trainer Aircraft
Hongdu JL-8 China / Pakistan jet trainer K-8 9[8]
Chengdu F-7 People's Republic of China jet trainer FT-7 11[8] license-built MiG-21

Aircraft AccidentsEdit

The Air Force has suffered a number of aircraft incidents and accidents. The first notable accident occurred during Operation Atlantic in the DRC, where during bad weather a Cheetah and Chetak helicopters air frame serials H-702 and H-708 crashed mid air, resulting in the death of 11 personnel 5 of whom where Namibian.[9] On 27 November 2003 an MI-8 helicopter Airframe serial H-804 made a heavy landing resulting in it being written off. While in Opuwo on 1 August 2008 Chetak H-706 crashed resulting in injuries to the crews and passengers.[9] An An-26 transport plane airframe NAF-3-642 crash landed at Omega Airfield during a mission to recover human remains of a Mozambican. In April 2014 a Harbin Z-9 helicopter air frame H-700 crash during take off at Grootfontein Air Force Base resulting in it being written off.

Air Force BasesEdit

Map of Namibia showing the Namibian Air Force bases (Click on base icon for link to details)[10]

List of bases of the Namibian Air Force

Expansion of the Air Base at Keetmanshoop is planned.[11]

Flying UnitsEdit

Air Defence Wing

  • 23 Squadron

23rd Squadron is a fighter squadron and is home to the Chengdu F-7 Airguards.

15 Wing

  • 151 Squadron

Consists of the helicopters in the Air Force. The squadron participated in the Second Congo War. The squadron lost two helicopters that were involved in a Mid-air collision.[12]

13 Wing

Hosting the Fixed wing transport aircraft is the 13 wing. The wing consists of the AN-26 and Y-12 Aircraft.



A Namibian F-7 skybolt

The Air Force has deployed numerous times to help civic authorities during disasters. Health outreach workers have been ferried during immunization campaigns . It has assisted in transporting Electoral material and personnel during National elections.[13] It has also flown foreign Heads of States during their stay in Namibia[14]


Between 1998 and 2002 The Air force was deployed to the DRC during the Second Congo War. Harbin Y-12 transport aircraft where utilized on logistics supply missions to the DRC as well as withdrawing Namibian troops at the end of the war. on 01 August 1999 a Air Force flight engineer died after he was hit by anti aircraft fire on a Y-12 transport aircraft that was enroute to resupply Namibian and Zimbabwean troops that were besieged at Ikela. Two Namibian Allouette helicopters crashed in mid-air while on operations during the war due to bad weather on 15 January 1999. The accident claimed nine lives, including two Namibian pilots and three technicians.[15]

During the 2014 floods at Tokwe-Murkosi in Masvingo, Zimbabwe the air force deployed a flight consisting of one Harbin Z-9 and two Allouettes to assist with the evacuation of the affected people.[16] The mission lasted seven days in which 600 residents were airlifted with 56 tons of goods.[17]

Exercise Blue Kavango
The airforce deployed a composite flight consisting of a Y-12 transport aircraft and Z-9 light utility helicopters to the SADC Air Forces exercise Blue Kavango held in Botswana[18][19].


The Air Force Commander exercise overall Executive command, he is deputized by an Air Commodore . The Air Force Sergeant Major is the principal Warrant Officer that advises the Air Force Commander on matters of discipline.

Command structureEdit

Sleeve insignia Appointment Rank and Name
  Air Force Commander Air Vice Marshal Teofilus Shaende
  Air Force Deputy Commander Air Commodore Abed Hihepa
  SOAPS Commandant Group Captain Hosea Ndjibu
  Karibib AFB Commander Group Captain
  Grootfontein AFB Commander Group Captain Hillary Lilungwe Sisamu
  Chief of Staff Operations Group Captain Manfred Tjivera
  Air Force Sergeant Major

Other establishments and unitsEdit

The primary training institute in the Air Force is the School of Air Power Studies (SOAPS) under the Command of Group Captain Hosea Ndjibu. The SOAPS is composed of three centres.

Ranks,Insignia, Uniforms, Proficiency BadgesEdit

The Air Force from inception used Army styled ranks and insignia. This however changed in April 2010 when the new system based on stripes was introduced and ranks changed to commonwealth system.

Commissioned officersEdit

Officer rank insigniaEdit

The highest rank a commissioned officer can attain in the Air Force is Air Vice Marshal. There may however be an exception when an Air Force officer is appointed as Chief of the Defence Force for which the individual which ascend to the rank of Air Marshal.

Commissioned officer rank structure of the Namibian Air Force
Air Marshal Air Vice Marshal Air Commodore Group Captain
Wing Commander Squadron Leader Flight Lieutenant Flying Officer Pilot Officer Officer Cadet

Non-commissioned officersEdit

The highest rank an enlisted member can attain is Warrant Officer Class 1.

Non Commissioned officer rank structure of the Namibian Air Force
Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 2 Flight Sergeant Sergeant
Aircraftman Leading Aircraftman Private
    No insignia


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Accessed 2007/07/27
  3. ^ Accessed 2015/10/07
  4. ^ Accessed 2007/07/27
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "World Air Forces 2018". Flightglobal Insight. 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ "Air Force Bases and Unit". South African Air Force. Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  11. ^ Parliament of Namibia, Summary of Development and Investment Expenditure by Vote, Inside/Outside SRF – Vote Code 8: Defence Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved August 2010
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^
  15. ^ "IRIN Update 591 for 20 Jan 1999".
  16. ^ "Namibia helicopters rescue flood victims". The Zimbabwe Independent.
  17. ^ New Era Publication Corporation. "Namibian Air Force returns from Zimbabwe mission". New Era Newspaper Namibia.
  18. ^
  19. ^

External linksEdit