The Nigerian Air Force is looking at procuring the C295W light transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space, with a delegation from Europe visiting Nigeria.
The delegation comprising two Airbus executives and the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Alfonso Barnuevo Sebastian De Erice, visited the Nigerian Air Force’s Headquarters in Abuja on 25 October where it met Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Nigerian media report that Airbus made a proposal on the sale of the aircraft to Nigeria in January this year, which indicated interest in the purchase. The Nigerian Air Force has made provision to fund the purchase in the 2017 budget proposal.
Abubakar this week asked Airbus Defence and Space to look at options to train Nigerian pilots and support personnel on the aircraft should the purchase be approved by the Federal Government.
The Nigerian Air Force said it is looking to acquire the C295W in a multi-role configuration, which would likely be for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and cargo missions.
It is not yet clear how many aircraft Nigeria is interested in purchasing.
Before the Airbus visit, on 20 October, French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, said the Airbus Group will open an operational office in Nigeria. This will mainly be focussed on commercial aviation.
Elsewhere on the continent, Mali is due to take delivery of a single C295W any day now, after ordering the aircraft in February this year.
The winglet-equipped C295W is now the standard production version. It was unveiled in 2013 with the aim of improving performance and fuel economy, especially in hot and high conditions. The winglets improve cruise and fuel consumption through a reduction in drag and increase in lift – the C295W features a 200 mile range increase over the baseline model as a result of changes, or a 30-60 minute increase in endurance. Meanwhile, updated Pratt & Whitney PW127 engines add power in climb and cruise, improving all round performance.
Regarding Africa, at the moment Algeria has six C295s in service, Egypt has ordered 24 and Ghana has three.
Airbus sees Africa as a key market for the C295 and helped bring a Portuguese Air Force C295 to the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition outside Pretoria in September, in maritime surveillance/patrol configuration.