The Nigerian Air Force has equipped at least one of its three King Air 350i aircraft with a sensor turret, allowing it to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
The aircraft was seen fitted with an electro-optical/infrared sensor ball turret under the fuselage in a photograph released by Nigerian Air Force (NAF) headquarters on 3 June.
The NAF received the three King Airs in August 2014, which were not fitted with any additional equipment. At the time, the aircraft were handed over to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, by Scott Plumb, the Vice President Sales, Middle East, Textron Aviation Austria, at the 209 Executive Airlift Group’s Hangar at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja.
Amosu stated that the acquisition of the King Airs would go a long way in boosting the airlift capacity of the NAF. An array of new equipment has been ordered for the Nigerian Air Force in an effort to ensure successful execution of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, especially against the Boko Haram extremists. Six Mi-35M attack helicopters and 12 armed Mi-171Sh helicopters were ordered in August 2014.
New hardware on the way includes JF-17 Thunder fighter jets from Pakistan and Super Mushshak propeller trainers. According to a leaked copy of Nigeria’s 2016 budget which President Muhammadu Buhari presented to a joint session of the National Assembly in December 2015, the Nigerian Air Force aims to acquire three JF-17s this year, and has budgeted $25 million towards this. N2.06 billion ($10.2 million) was allocated for 10 PAC Super Mushshak basic trainers, and N11.6 billion ($56 million) for two Mi-35M helicopters as well as N5 billion for the JF-17s. Total requirement is for around 20 JF-17s.
Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar on 25 June said the Mushshak deal has been conclude and the aircraft will enter service with 301 Flying Training School in Kaduna. He added that Pakistani pilots would soon arrive in Nigeria to train Nigerian pilots. The Air Force recently sent ten pilots to South Africa and ten to the United Kingdom for training. Another eight are being trained at the International Aviation College in Ilorin.
At the beginning of this month Nigeria received another second hand Alpha Jet from the United States. Two Alpha Jets were delivered in March and May 2015, with four aircraft apparently being acquired by Nigeria. It is not clear if the latest delivery is part of the original batch of four, or a fifth example.
Also in June, the NAF revealed it had received three H135 (EC135) and three AS365 Dauphin helicopters from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and was to soon use them on internal security missions.