Nigerian Air Force puts aircraft up for sale


The Nigerian Air Force has put up a number of aircraft for sale, including 20 MiG-21 fighters.

The MiG-21s have been advertised by United States-based Trade-A-Plane on behalf of the Inter Avia Group, which said the sale comes as a lot, and aircraft will not be sold individually. The aircraft offered include five single-seat MiG-21 MF fighters with between 250 and 469 hours; four two-seat MiG-21 UM jets with 199 to 547 airframe hours; and eleven single-seat MiG-21 BIS aircraft with between 43 and 165 airframe hours.

The lot also includes 15 new engines and an inventory of spares.

The Nigerian Air Force acquired 25 MiG-21MF and six MiG-21UM aircraft from the USSR in 1975. Due to attrition, the fleet had dwindled by the mid-1980s and so 13 MiG-21 BIS and two MiG-21UM aircraft were ordered to bolster the fleet. As reported by The Drive, Nigerian MiG-21s took part in operations in Chad.

Between 1979 and the late 1980s the NAF reached its peak, participating in foreign peacekeeping missions and internal security initiatives and operating in support of the Army and Navy. Its fleet expanded greatly, with aircraft like the SEPECAT Jaguar, Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet, Aermacchi MB-339, Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, Aerospatiale Super Puma and others joining the fleet. During these ‘golden years’ the NAF had around a hundred combat aircraft and was second only to the South African Air Force among sub-Saharan states in this regard.

The Air Force came close to collapse following its involvement in an attempt to topple General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime in 1985, after which it was starved of funds, equipment and support. Most of platforms were grounded, the training of pilots and other personnel suffered huge set-backs and many maintenance facilities became dilapidated. In fact, the situation was so bad that the Jaguar, Lockheed C-130 Hercules, L-39 and Dornier 128 Skyservant types became non-operational and were put in mostly open storage.

By the mid-1990s the MiG-21 fleet was in open storage and a decade ago the NAF attempted to sell off a number of these grounded aircraft, including MiG-21s, Jaguars, Mil Mi-34 Hermits, BO 105s, C-130s and Scottish Aviation Bulldogs. It is not clear if any of these aircraft were actually sold.

The Inter Avia Group is now also offering three ex-NAF C-130H aircraft for sale. These have been stored for years, with many parts removed. The NAF is refurbishing its remaining C-130s to keep them flying as it returns many grounded aircraft to service.

The NAF is also selling a Hawker 4000 executive jet (5N-FGX). It was advertised for sale in September. It entered service in 2011 and since then has flown 1 768 hours. The aircraft is stored at the Presidential Air Fleet’s hangar located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari put up two presidential aircraft for sale: a Falcon 7X executive jet and a Hawker 4000 as cost-saving measures. It seems these were not sold.