Nigerian Air Force takes delivery of final DA 62 special mission aircraft

2014

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has taken delivery of all four DA 62 MPP special mission aircraft from Austria’s Diamond Aircraft.

The first aircraft was delivered in late February, subsequently being displayed at NAF Day celebrations in May. Wearing the registration NAF260, it was seen fitted what appeared to be a Hensoltd Argos II HDT electro-optical gimbal. FlightRadar24 subsequently tracked it on surveillance missions near the Lake Chad region.

The first two aircraft delivered are registered as NAF260 and NAF261 and the final two aircraft are NAF262 and NAF262. These arrived in Nigeria from Austria on 6 October, according to FlightRadar24 data.

The last two aircraft were formally accepted into service by Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, during a ceremony at Ilorin on 11 October. He noted that the DA 62 aircraft received earlier in the year have since been deployed to operating theatres in support of ongoing efforts to restore peace and stability in troubled areas within the country.

Dimond Aircraft describe the DA 62 MPP (Multi Purpose Platform) as offering low operating cost with low noise signature (a specialized on top exhaust system blends fresh air with engine exhaust and utilizes the cowling to provide shielding of exhaust noise and heat). The aircraft has an endurance of up to ten hours thanks to two economical Austro Engine AE330 engines that run on JET A1 or diesel fuel (they each develop 180 hp).

The DA 62 MPP cabin provides for two pilots (equipped with Garmin G1000 NXi glass cockpits) and one or two mission system operators (mission equipment can be fitted in the hold or luggage compartment – useful load is 710 kg). Diamond Aircraft says the DA62 MPP has been specially designed for carrying multi-functional aerial sensors, like electro-optical/infrared cameras, land and sea radars, communications intelligence solutions, airborne laser scanners or large format digital aerial cameras etc. A Universal Nose carries cameras up to 60 kg, the belly is designed for maritime or land radar applications up to 50 kg, and a satellite communications pod houses L-, Ku-, or Ka Band antennas.

A carbon fibre airframe offers virtually unlimited airframe life and is not subject to corrosion, even when operated in saline and humid environments. “Together, fuel efficiency and the unlimited airframe life combine for extremely low direct operating costs, making the DA62 MPP the most cost-efficient special mission aircraft in its class,” Diamond Aircraft said.

In operation since 2016, the DA62 MPP platform is aimed at law enforcement operations, search and rescue missions, land and sea border surveillance, disaster management, infrastructure and environmental monitoring, airport landing systems calibration and more.

The Nigerian Air Force earlier this year confirmed that over 50 new aircraft are being acquired for the service. In late January, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, said the NAF was expecting the delivery of additional new platforms which the President has approved for the service. These include two Beechcraft King Air 360 transports, the four 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, with the new aircraft to boost the NAF’s air power employment and projection capabilities as well as air combat training. The Army and Navy are also receiving helicopters.

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 was 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.

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).

Pending acquisitions for the NAF are two C295 transport/surveillance aircraft and 12 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.