Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force

The Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) is the official armed national military of the Southern African Kingdom of Eswatini. is used primarily during domestic protests, with some border and customs duties; the force has never been involved in a foreign conflict.[2] The army has struggled with high rates of HIV infection. Since measures were put in place the rate is dropping.[3]

Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force
FoundedJune 1979
Service branchesArmy
Air Force
Commander-in-ChiefKing Mswati III
CommanderMajor General Sipho Tshabalala
Military age18-30[note 1]
Available for
military service
344,038, age 18–49 (2010 est.)
Fit for
military service
201,853 males, age 18–49 (2010 est.),
175,477 females, age 18–49 (2010 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
16,168 males (2010 est.),
15,763 females (2010 est.)
Active personnel3,000+
Reserve personnel0
Deployed personnel0
Budget$115 million (2011 est.)[1]
Percent of GDP3.0% of GDP (2011 est.)[1]
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks of Eswatini

The UEDF replaced the Royal Swaziland Defence Force, which was created in 1973 to replace the role of the British Army following independence in 1968.

The King of Eswatini is the commander-in-chief of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force, and the substantive minister of defence.[4] However, he delegates the responsibilities of the day-to-day activities of the executive arm of the government.[5]

There is a Defence Council, which is responsible for advising the King on all matters pertaining to the UEDF.[5] The UEDF is commanded by Major General Stanley Dlamini; the deputy commander is Brigadier General Patrick Motsa,[6] and the formation commander is Brigadier General Jeffry S. Tshabalala.[7]



Armoured Personnel CarriersEdit

Vehicle Country of origin Type Versions In service Notes
RG-31 Nyala   South Africa Armoured vehicles Mk5E 7[8] 7 delivered in the 1990s


Weapon Country of origin Type Versions In service Notes
Armalite AR-18[9]   United States Assault rifle AR-180 Unknown
INSAS rifle   India Assault rifle Yes
IMI Galil[10]   Israel Assault rifle Unknown Yes
SIG SG 540[10]    Switzerland Assault rifle Unknown Unknown
FN FAL[10]   Belgium Battle rifle Unknown Yes
Sterling submachine gun[10]   United Kingdom Submachine gun Unknown Unknown
Uzi[10]   Israel Submachine gun Unknown Yes
FN MAG[10][11]   Belgium General-purpose machine gun Unknown Unknown Unknown


Air ForceEdit

IAI Arava of the Swazi military air wing in 1995

Eswatini maintains a relatively small air wing, part of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force.[12] The air wing is mainly used for transporting the King as well as cargo, and personnel; surveying land with search and rescue functions, and mobilising in case of a national emergency.[13]

IAI Arava of the Swazi Air Force

Both Arava 201 have crashed; the first was on a demo flight in the 1980s, leaving both pilots dead.[14] The second was lost in 2004, after bad weather caused the flight crew lead by pilot army colonel Micheal Ranft to fail to unlock the flight controls lock pin. This caused the plane to crash into a sugar cane field after failing to rotate. Although no injuries were reported, the incident left the air force temporarily crippled.[2]

Aircraft Country of origin Type Versions In service Notes
Canadair Global Express   Canada Passenger plane BD-700-1A10 1[15] 1 delivered, currently used as a troop transport
Bell UH-1H Iroquois   United States Utility helicopter 2[16] 2, offered by Taiwan.
Cessna 337 Super Skymaster   United States Passenger plane 1[15] 1 delivered, currently used as a medical transport
Learjet 35   United States Passenger plane 1[17] 1 delivered, currently used as a troop transport
Piper PA-28 Cherokee   United States Passenger plane PA-28-140 1[15] 1 delivered, currently used for land surveying
McDonnell Douglas MD-87   United States Passenger plane DC-87 1[18] 1 delivered, currently used by government officials
Aérospatiale Alouette III   France Utility helicopter SA-316B 3[19] 3 donated to Swaziland in 2000[20]
Airbus A340   France VIP 1 delivered, currently used as a VIP transport

Retired inventoryEdit

Aircraft Country of origin Type Versions In service Notes
IAI Arava   Israel Cargo plane IAI 202 0[21] 2 delivered, one crashed in the 1980s, and the other in 2004
Douglas DC-3   United States Cargo plane 0


The Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force is the main component of Eswatini's military.[22]


  • Nsingizini Army Barracks
  • Mbuluzi Barracks
  • Mdzimba Mountain Barracks
  • Phocweni Barracks
  • Etjeni Barracks
  • Zombodze Barracks


  • Ludlukhala Regiment
  • Lindimpi Regiment (watchman/guard)
  • Gcina Regiment


Due to Eswatini being landlocked, the country does not maintain a navy.[22]



  1. ^ Compulsory HIV testing required, only HIV-negative applicants accepted


  1. ^ a b "SIPRI military expenditure database". Archived from the original on 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  2. ^ a b "Crash diminishes Swaziland's air force". Independent Online (South Africa). November 23, 2004. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  3. ^ " Swaziland: Army Slowly Winning the HIV/Aids Battle". 2010-12-18. Retrieved 2010-12-18.
  4. ^ "Swaziland: Time for Democracy?". Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  5. ^ a b "Security in Swaziland, Swaziland Security, Ministry of Defence, Swaziland welcome, Commonwealth". Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  6. ^ "Welcome to the home page of the Government of Swaziland". Retrieved 2010-08-15.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Welcome to the home page of the Government of Swaziland". Retrieved 2010-08-15.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Arms Trade Register". SIPRI. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  9. ^ Bishop, Chris. Guns in Combat. Chartwell Books, Inc (1998). ISBN 0-7858-0844-2.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  11. ^ "Military of Swaziland". eNotes. 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  12. ^ "Photo Search Results". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Air force (Swaziland) - Sentinel Security Assessment - Southern Africa". 2011-04-12. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  14. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident IAI Arava 201 3D-DAB Zomba Air Base". 1980-01-15. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  15. ^ a b c "UK blocks Swazi arms". DefenceWeb. 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Aircraft 3D-BIS, Learjet 45 C/N 104". Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  18. ^ "Times Of Swaziland". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  19. ^ "Arms Trade Register". SIPRI. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  20. ^ "SAAF Alouettes for Swaziland". SAAF. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  21. ^ "Swazi military aviation OrBat". Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  22. ^ a b "CIA - The World Factbook". Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  23. ^ a b c d
  24. ^ Nhlabatsi, Sifiso (29 July 2019). "KING APPOINTS NEW ARMY COMMANDER". Retrieved 2019-09-26.