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BOTSWANA DEFENCE FORCES - Air Wing
Last update 04-10-2019
Credit: Roundels of the world
Z28 Maparangwane AB - Molepole
A flight of two or three aircrafts of one of the two
Squadrons is maintained continously on alarm to defend Botswanian
BADGE Motto: live in the dream Photo: https://www.spotters-corner.com
AND OPERATIONAL SERVICE
small African country operated BAC Strikemaster for training and ground
support when it decided to acquire fighters in 1995, there
was opposition in the country (which has only 1.5 million inhabitants
high degree of the population living below poverty level) due to the high cost of
acquisition and operation.
government proceeded anyhow with the search of a suitable aircraft,
found in the form of the Canadair CF-5.
Seleka Springs, a company owned by the President's brother, acted as the agent for the purchase; their commission was not disclosed to the public.
On 14-06-96 it was announced that an order valued at USD 50m was placed
through Bristol Aerospace
for 10 Canadair CF-5A and 3 Canadair CF-5D, upgraded in Canada but
surplus to Canadian Air Force requirement.
These aircrafts were
prepared for delivery ba Bristol Aerospace and were very advanced
fighters; their instrumentation being comparable
to that on Canadian Boeing A/F18A, as they were foreseen as
trainer before conversion to the latter aircraft. New radios were installed and the IFF system was modified. United
States government approval, due to the re-export restrictions placed on aircraft with USA origins, had
to be sought
before the contract was signed, approval granted by the USA Congress on April 24th, 1996 an delivered the same year (it seems locally redesignated CF-5 DLIR- or BF-5 would appreciate confirmation).
HUD was installed before delivery.
A new base was also needed to host the fighters and works started at Molepole,
called Maparangwane AB. The first 5 Canadair CF-5A arrived at Gaborone
in August 1996 on
board Antonov An-124 transport aircrafts.
Three CF-5D followed in September 1997, the final 5 CF-5A arriving
during October 1997.
The aircrafts were attached to the Z28 Squadron operating from Maparangwane AB, formerly operating BAC Strikemaster.
A short training in the USA on the Northrop T-38A assured advanded training for
Strikemaster pilots, practically all Botswana citizens, while an
aircraft and engine maintenance basis was also built
Local pilots were also trained for at least two years by Canadian pilots.
CF-5A OJ 2 was damaged/written-of in March 97, a few days after
arrival, on landing at Gaborone, while
practising for an air-show.
Industrial Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding between
Botswana and Canada was concluded on November 15th, 1999. Among
support equipment to be provided to Botswana were surplus CF-5
spares and accessories, including 20 mm aircraft cannons.
additional single-seaters Canadair CF-5A and two double-seaters
Canadair CF-5D were bought and delivered in 2000, approval had already been granted by the USA Congress on
November 7th, 1997.
CF-5A OJ 1 armed with rocket launchers - Squadron Z28 - Gaborone
October 2002 Canadair
CF-5D OJ25 armed with rocket launchers - Squadron Z28 - Gaborone
Chris Knott/Archives Northrop F-5 Enthusiast
Bristol Aircraft Corporation is still taking care locally of
the aircrafts. A team spent the majority of 2004 and early 2005 in Botswana successfully completing Periodic Inspections (PI) on
three aircrafts, while another
contract was signed for the PI inspections for 3 additional CF-5s, starting November
There were 16 aircrafts in service in 2004, according to an US source.
Ascertained armament are rocket launchers and bombs. Botswana was
interested in obtaining AIM-9 Sidewinders to counter Zimbabwan MiG-21s, but there is no trace of having been
Fighters were grounded by at least late 2011 due to lack of serviceable ejector seats.
Canadair CF-5D participated
with US troops to the joint miöitary excercise known as Southern
Acord 12, between August 1st and 17th 2012 at the Molepole/Thebephatshwa Air
Four pilots and
two instructors received a first refresher training course by Tactical
Air Support (TacAir) starting on September 2013 at Reno-Stead
Airport (USA) on Canadair NF-5B N8910, lasting 5 weeks. Each
pilot received 26 hours of ground school and completed nine training
flights covering bombs and weapons delivery,
tactical formation, basic fighter manoeuvering and fighter squadron
management techniques. The second course started end of February 2014.
sources mention that there are negotions for the acquisition of 8 KAI
FA-50/T-50 valued at USD 450m or 12 Saab J-39C/D Gripen. A Korean military
delegation visited Botswana between 23-28 November 2013 to discuss the
deal. Additional contacs were with aircraft manufacturers in China, USA, Russia.
Three two-seaters participated at
Gaborone Airport to the Botswana Defence Day in-flight display
on 26-04-14; one single-seater was on show on the tarmac.
Photo: Johnatan Maverick
Two Canadair CF-5A (serials serial OJ 10, OJ 19) and 1 CF-5D (serial OJ239) seen on Defence Day air display
October 2017 a leaked military report informed about the
problematic of replacing the existing Canadair BF-5s with a new
fighter, in view on non-existing external threat.
The Air Force was tasked to
research on the viability of the present aircrafts and report to the
command of the Defence Forces. The report advices not to
purchase new equipment but to change to the BF-5E
(Northrop F-5E?) variant as the aircrafts were sustainable and relatively little
expensive to maintain.
It also advised to select a
new aircraft to operate intermediate training between the present
Pilatus PC-7 and the Freedom Fighters. Pilots had difficulty in
converting directly from the Pilatus to the Canadair aircrafts.
five pilots, of the eleven qualified to fly the fighter, were
operational and it would have taken quite a long time to reach the
desired number (21), also due to the very low number (3) of hours
flown each month.
At that time Squadron Z28 was not combat ready and was regarded as a
training unit. The Northrop F-5 could meet the requirements of the Air
Force for a further 15 years without needing to buy a completely new
type fleet at a very high price.
report was ignored by the President who started as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces talks with the
Koreans and Swedes. The Air Force Commander confirmed in Jube 2016 negotiations with Saab for 8 to
12 J-39C and J-39D.
27-04-18 on Canadair CF-5 crashed while practising to participate
for the next-day BDF Day Celebrations. The pilot was killed.
Canadair CF-5A single-and one CF-116 double-seater (OJ 24)
participated in-flight parade over Gaborone on 28-10-19. This gives an
idea about the number of operational aircrafts.
The Botswana Air Force has
allocated USD 1.35 billions for the National Development Plan 11
(2017-2023). Offers were received from General Dynamics for F-16s, Saab
JAS-39, Leonardo M-346, KAI T-50/FA-50.
Exact delivery date CF-5A OJ2, OJ6, OJ-7, OJ8, OJ9, OJ10,
OJ12, OJ13; CF-5D OJ22, OJ24, OJ25
Construction number/Canadian serial CF-5A OJ11, OJ12, 0J13; CF-5D OJ24,
Any additional information/corrections.