Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force

The Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) is the military of the Southern African Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland). It 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
Prime ministerCleopas Dlamini
Minister of DefencePrince Sicalo
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

History and structure

UEDF Lt. Col. Moses Swane speaks with U.S. Army Africa Commander Maj. Gen. William Garrett III during a 2009 medical training exercise

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 Lieutenant General Hulumende M. Fakudze.[7]


Rank group General/flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force
Commander in Chief General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant
Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force
No insignia
Warrant officer I Warrant officer II Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Private


Armoured personnel carriers

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 Force

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 201s 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 led 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]

Current inventory
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Aérospatiale Alouette III France utility 3[15]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 2[15] donated by the Government of Taiwan[16]
Retired inventory
Aircraft Country of origin Type Versions In service Notes
IAI Arava  Israel Cargo plane IAI 202 0[17] 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.[18]


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


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

Due to Eswatini being landlocked, the country does not maintain a navy.[18]


No. Photo Name
Term of office Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Prince Bhekimpi Dlamini
15 March 1973 10 October 1973 4 years, 209 days [19]
2 Major general
Prince Maphevu Dlamini
10 October 1973 25 October 1979 † 2 years, 15 days [20]
3 Colonel
Jameson Ndizimande
12 February 1981 8 June 1984
3 years, 117 days [21][22]
4 Brigadier
Roy Gedion Fonono Dube
8 June 1984 August 2000 16 years, 1 month [22]
5 Lieutenant general
Stanley Dlamini
(born 1953)
August 2000 29 June 2019 18 years, 10 months [23][24]
6 Lieutenant general
Jeffrey Sipho Tshabalala
(born 1959)
29 June 2019 22 April 2022
2 years, 297 days [25]
Lieutenant general
Hulumende Mashikilisane Fakudze
(born c.1963)
22 April 2022 Incumbent 285 days [26]


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


  1. "SIPRI military expenditure database". Archived from the original on 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  2. "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. "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.
  7. "Welcome to the home page of the Government of Swaziland". Retrieved 2010-08-15.
  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. 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. "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal. 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  16. "eSwatini receives two Hueys donated by Taiwan". defenceWeb. 27 February 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  17. "Swazi military aviation OrBat". Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  18. "CIA - The World Factbook". Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  19. Tshabalala, Jeffrey; Nhlengethwa, Cyprian; Rupiya, Martin (2005). "Caught between tradition and regional warfare: The Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force since 1968". In Rupiya, Martin (ed.). Evolutions & Revolutions: A Contemporary History of Militaries in Southern Africa (PDF). Institute for Security Studies. ISBN 978-1919913827. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  20. Tshabalala, Nhlengethwa & Rupiya 2005, pp. 284, 287.
  21. "Appointment of Chief of Staff (Army) to the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force" (PDF). Supplement to the swaziland government gazette. Vol. XXI, no. 218. Mbabane. 22 April 1983. p. S1. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  22. "Part C: Legal Notices" (PDF). Supplement to the swaziland government gazette. Vol. XXII, no. 312. Mbabane. 14 September 1984. p. S3-S4. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  23. "Former UEDF General Sobantu S. Dlamini". Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force. Archived from the original on 9 February 2021. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  24. "Welcome to the home page of the Government of Swaziland". Archived from the original on May 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
  25. Nhlabatsi, Sifiso (29 July 2019). "KING APPOINTS NEW ARMY COMMANDER". Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  26. Shabangu, Simon (26 August 2021). "KING APPOINTS ACTING ARMY COMMANDER". Retrieved 2019-09-26.


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