The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has strengthened ties with Hungary, which will help the service with fighter pilot training, the operation and maintenance of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) cameras and more.
This was disclosed on 22 January by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while receiving the Hungarian Consul-General to Nigeria, Endre Peter Deri, and the Chief Executive Officer, Hungarian Magnus Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, Mr Laszo Boros, at the Headquarters NAF in Abuja.
Speaking during the visit, the CAS said that partnership between the NAF and Hungary would enable the NAF to take advantage of the competencies available in Hungary to address some of the technical challenges the service currently faces in the conduct of its operations.
Abubakar stated that the NAF was willing to send a team to Hungary to assess available opportunities for aircraft and associated equipment acquisition, human capacity development as well as Research and Development (R&D), amongst other areas of collaboration.
“As you are aware we are fighting a counter-insurgency war in the North East and the aircraft produced by the Hungarian Magnus Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, which has ISR capability, would be useful in adding value to what we are doing in the North East and other Theatres of Operation”, the CAS said. He highlighted other areas of interest to include the training of fighter pilots, aircraft technicians and engineers as well as capacity development for the operation and maintenance of ISR payloads and ISR imagery analysis.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer, Hungarian Magnus Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, Laszo Boros, noted that the visit was aimed at seeking avenues to strengthen strategic partnerships for aircraft and associated equipment sales as well as capacity building. He disclosed that the company was willing to provide bespoke solutions that would support the operations of the NAF in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality. Similarly, the Hungarian Consul-General, Endre Peter Deri, expressed preparedness to deepen partnership with the NAF, stating that it would further improve on the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Hungary in the area of capacity building.
Meanwhile, also on 22 January, Abubakar met with the Director General (DG) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, and the Managing Director (MD), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu, to discuss flight safety, training and exchange programmes.
Abubakar said the Nigerian government has acquired 23 brand new aircraft for the NAF, while 15 more were expected to be delivered during the course of the year, alongside eight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The 15 expected manned aircraft, the CAS said, comprised 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft that would be based in Kainji as well as 3 JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft.
The expected UAVs include the Wing Loong II, which has endurance of between 16 and 20 hours depending on its operating mode, as well as the CH-4 and CH-3. The CAS also disclosed that the NAF was expecting three special mission aircraft that would be based in Benin to cover the maritime environment and handle some of the challenges in Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).