The Nigerian Air Force will soon take delivery of two AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters, which will be used for VIP transport duties.
One of the AW101s was seen at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil, Somerset, in the United Kingdom painted in Nigerian Air Force (NAF) VIP colours. The aircraft will presumably be operated by the NAF’s 101 Presidential Air Fleet in Abuja, according to Air Forces Daily.
The Nigerian AW101s were originally scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Air Force, but the Indian contract was subsequently cancelled following allegations of bribery and corruption.
The NAF has been receiving a number of new aircraft recently and late last month took delivery of three Beechcraft King Air 350i light transport aircraft, which are operated by the 209 Executive Airlift Group (EAG) at Abuja-Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The 209 EAG recently officially accepted an Mi-17-V5 helicopter, which had previously been operated by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for search and rescue duties.
Furthermore, the Nigerian government has apparently ordered 40 helicopters for attack and transport duties from the United States and Russia. This Day said the helicopters could start arriving as early as this month and the remainder could arrive by the end of the year.
It was earlier reported that Nigeria is receiving two helicopter gunships, most likely Mi-35s. The Nigerian Budget Office this year allocated funds for six Mi-35M helicopters.
On a related note, the Nigerian Air Force’s Mil Mi-34C helicopters have been transferred to New Zealand. Between eight and 12 were delivered around 2002 for pilot training but had been withdrawn by 2011 due to gearbox issues. By December 2013, six of the original batch had arrived in New Zealand.