Nigerian Air Force confirms additional air assets are on the way

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The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has confirmed that over 50 new aircraft are being acquired for the service, including six T-129 attack helicopters and 24 M-346 multirole trainer jets.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, earlier this year said the NAF is expecting the delivery of additional new platforms which the President has approved for the service. These include two Beechcraft King Air 360 transports, four Diamond DA-62 surveillance aircraft, three Wing Loong II unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and six T-129 ATAK attack helicopters.

He further disclosed that there are ongoing acquisitions of 12 Agusta A109 Trekker multi-role helicopters and 24 M-346 attack aircraft. The new aircraft would further boost NAF’s air power employment and projection capabilities as well as air combat training, he said.

Amao was speaking during an operational visit to the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Safety and 209 Quick Response Group, Ipetu-Ijesa, Osun State. He stated that the NAF had recently been effectively using new assets in combat and these have been instrumental in defeating terrorists and insurgents.

Amao attributed the combat successes recorded by the NAF to the newly acquired JF-17 Thunder aircraft, A-29 Super Tucano aircraft and UCAVs. He maintained that the Nigerian military is winning the war against terrorism in the country, with the aid of these modem platforms. He emphasized that more still need to be done to completely decimate and flush out the remnants of terrorists still preying on soft targets.

Other branches of service are also getting new aircraft: on 7 March, MD Helicopters announced an order for an initial 12 Cayuse Warrior Plus helicopters for the Nigerian Army, and the Nigerian Navy has just taken delivery of the first of three A109SP helicopters from Leonardo Helicopters.

Briefing the media last month, Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), noted that the Nigerian government has acquired 38 new aircraft since 2015, including ten Super Mushshak trainer aircraft, five Mi-35M attack helicopters, two Bell 412 transport helicopters, four A109 Power utility helicopters, two Mi-171E transport helicopters, three JF–17 Thunder multi–role fighters, 12 A–29 Super Tucano combat/trainer aircraft and numerous unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

The Nigerian Air Force, he said, also sustained reactivated previously unserviceable platforms to help in tackling insurgency, terrorism, armed banditry and other forms of criminality. These include 17 Super Puma, F-7Ni, EC139, Do 228, Mi-24V, Mi-35P, C-130H Hercules, L-39ZA and Alpha Jet aircraft.

Magashi added that the Nigerian Navy has received one AW139 and one A109SP (NN410, delivered in January 2023). Two more A109SPs will be delivered by year-end.