Namibian Air Force
Emblem of the Namibian Air Force
Founded13 March 2005; 18 years ago (2005-03-13)
Country Namibia
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Part ofNamibian Defence Force
HeadquartersKaribib, Erongo Region, Namibia
  • 23 July 1994 as the Namibian Defence Force Air Wing
  • 13 March 2005 as the Namibian Air Force
Commander-In-ChiefNangolo Mbumba
Minister of DefenceFrans Kapofi
Air Force CommanderAir Vice Marshal Teofilus Shaende
Fin flash

The Namibian Air Force is the aerial warfare branch of the Namibian Defence Force. It was commissioned on 13 March 2005 at Grootfontein Air Force Base.[2] Following the independence of Namibia from South Africa in 1990, the Air Defence Wing of the Namibian Defence Force was established on 23 July 1994.[2] The Air Force headquarters is located at Karibib Air Force Base.[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.

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

The policy for the Air Force is as follows:[4]

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, the air wing was composed of two squadrons, VR-1 squadron and the Helicopter Squadron.[5] The first aircraft of the force were six Cessna O-2As donated by the United States. The US also offered two advisors to train four pilots, six copilots and seven mechanics. In December 1994 a total of four Cheetah and Chetak light utility helicopters bought from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited were 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.[6] Two Harbin Y-12s were delivered in December 1997.[citation needed] In the 1999-2000 period, two Mil Mi-8s and two Mil Mi-25s were delivered by Libya.[7] In 2004, Namibia ordered 12 Chengdu F-7NM fighters and two FT-7NM trainers from China. These were delivered in 2005 and 2006, and officially entered service on 23 June of the latter year.[8]


An F-7 on takeoff
A Harbin Y-12 on final approach
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Chengdu F-7 China fighter F-7NM 9[9]
Antonov An-26 Soviet Union transport 1[9]
Harbin Y-12 China transport 2[9]
Mil Mi-8 Soviet Union utility / transport 2[9]
Mil Mi-24 Soviet Union attack 2[9]
HAL Cheetah France / India liaison / utility 1[9]
HAL Chetak France / India liaison / utility 2[9]
Trainer Aircraft
Hongdu JL-8 China jet trainer K-8 11[9]
Chengdu F-7 China jet trainer FT-7 2[9]

Aircraft accidents

K-8 taxiing with centerline gun pod and rocket pods attached

The Namibian Air Force has suffered a number of aircraft incidents and accidents. The first notable accident occurred during Operation Atlantic in the DRC, where two helicopters — a Cheetah and a Chetak (serials H-702 and H-708) — collided mid-air during bad weather, resulting in the deaths of 11 personnel, five of whom were Namibian.[10]

Air Force Bases

Map of Namibia showing the Namibian Air Force bases
Map of Namibia showing the Namibian Air Force bases (Click on base icon for link to details)[15]

List of bases of the Namibian Air Force

Expansion of the Air Base at Keetmanshoop is planned.[16]

Flying Units

Air Defence Wing

Fighter squadron, operating Chengdu F-7s.[17]

15 Wing

Operates the helicopters. This squadron participated in the Second Congo War. In 2013, it lost two helicopters in a mid-air collision.[18]

13 Wing

Hosting the fixed-wing transport aircraft (An-26 and Y-12).[citation needed]



A Namibian F-7

The Namibian Air Force has deployed numerous times to help civilian authorities during disasters. Health outreach workers have been ferried during immunisation campaigns. It has assisted in transporting electoral material and personnel during national elections.[19] It has also flown foreign heads of state during their stay in Namibia.[20]


Democratic Republic of the Congo

Between 1998 and 2002 the air force was deployed to the DRC during the Second Congo War. Harbin Y-12 transport aircraft where used on logistics supply missions to the DRC as well as withdrawing Namibian troops at the end of the war. On 1 August 1999 an air force flight engineer died after he was hit by anti-aircraft fire on a Harbin Y-12 that was en route to resupply Namibian and Zimbabwean troops besieged at Ikela. Two Namibian Alouette helicopters collided 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.[21]


During the 2014 floods at Tokwe-Murkosi in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, the air force deployed a flight consisting of one Harbin Z-9 and two Alouettes to assist with the evacuation of the affected people.[22] The mission lasted seven days in which 600 residents were airlifted, as well as 56 tons of goods.[23]

Exercise Blue Kavango

The air force 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.[24][25]


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 structure

Sleeve insignia Appointment Rank and Name
Air Force Commander Air Vice Marshal Teofilus Shaende
Air Force Deputy Commander Air Commodore Abed Hihepa

Other establishments and units

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 badges

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

Commissioned officer ranks

The rank insignia of commissioned officers.

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Namibian Air Force[26]
Chief air marshal Air marshal Air vice marshal Air commodore Group captain Wing commander Squadron leader Flight lieutenant Flying officer Pilot officer

Other ranks

The rank insignia of non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Namibian Air Force[26]
No insignia
Warrant officer class 1 Warrant officer class 2 Flight sergeant Sergeant Aircraftman Leading aircraftman Private
(or equivalent)



  1. ^ "Estimate of Revenue, Income and Expenditure 01 April 2016 to 31 March 2019". Namibian Ministry of Finance. 2016. p. 106.
  2. ^ a b "Statement By His Excellency Sam Nujoma, President Of The Republic Of Namibia, On The Occasion Of The Commissioning Ceremony Of Namibia Air Force". Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2007. Accessed 2007/07/27
  3. ^ Hartman, Adam (7 March 2016). "Geingob impressed with new air force base at Karibib". The Namibian. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Policy for Development of Air Force". Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Background of the Namibian Air Force". Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  6. ^ Fild, Lucienne (21 December 1994). "NDFs choppers now official" (PDF). The Namibian. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  7. ^ Cooper et al. 2011, p. 74
  8. ^ Cooper et al. 2011, pp. 70–71
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "World Air Forces 2023". Flightglobal Insight. 2023. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  10. ^ a b "NAMIBIA AIR FORCE……(ex NAMIBIA DEFENCE FORCE Air Wing)" (PDF). Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  11. ^ "Detailed aircraft information, An-26 c/n 14401". Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  12. ^ Ngatjiheue, Charmaine (28 September 2021). "Kapofi confirms NDF jet crash". The Namibian. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  13. ^ Ndeyanale, Eliaser (15 October 2021). "Media barred from military plane crash". The Namibian. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  14. ^ "Namibian F-7 fighter badly damaged". 21 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Air Force Bases and Unit". South African Air Force. Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  16. ^ "Summary of Development and Investment Expenditure by Vote, Inside/Outside SRF – Vote Code 8: Defence" (PDF). Parliament of Namibia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2012.
  17. ^ Cooper et al. 2011, p. 71
  18. ^ "State-of-the-art helicopters for NDF". 30 April 2012. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  19. ^ "Statement By His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of The Republic of Namibia And Commander – in-Chief of The Namibian Defence Force, On The Occasion of The Inauguration of The Airforce School of Airpower Studies". 13 February 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Politicised origin tracing should give way to science-based cooperation - Opinion - Namibian Sun".
  21. ^ "IRIN Update 591 for 20 Jan 1999".
  22. ^ Zhangazha, Wongai (14 February 2014). "Namibia helicopters rescue flood victims". The Zimbabwe Independent.
  23. ^ New Era Publication Corporation. "Namibian Air Force returns from Zimbabwe mission". New Era Newspaper Namibia.
  24. ^ "Namibian Air Force to participate in joint SADC exercise".
  25. ^ "Exercise Blue Okavango". YouTube. Archived from the original on 5 December 2021.
  26. ^ a b "Government Notice" (PDF). Government Gazette of the Republic of Namibia. Vol. 4547. 20 August 2010. pp. 99–102. Retrieved 20 December 2021.