Nigerian Alpha Jet deliveries continue


The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has received a second Alpha Jet from the United States, nearly two months after the first was delivered.

The second aircraft was seen at Manchester Airport on 11 May, having travelled from the United States via Iceland on its delivery flight. It followed the same route as the first aircraft, which was seen passing through Manchester on 25 March.

Air Forces Daily reports that the second aircraft had to return to Manchester because of a transponder failure, and departed the next day when its transponder was attended to by GAMA Aviation.

The Alpha Jets were flown by Air USA Inc, which specialises in military air combat readiness training and flies Hawks, Alpha Jets, MiG-29s and L-59 Super Albatroses. The Alpha Jets for Nigeria were cancelled from the United States register on 19 March. They were built in 1979 and 1980 and originally flown by the Luftwaffe before operating in the States.

Air USA Alpha Jets were converted for night vision goggle (NVG) operations, according to the company, and flight certified for operational use of TER, IMER and SUU-20 bomb racks.

Nigerian Alpha Jets have been used in the ground attack role to strike Boko Haram targets and a couple have been lost on operations: one crashed in Niger, killing two pilots, in May 2013 while another went down in September last year.

The NAF has recently reactivated a number of its Alpha Jets. A total of 24 were acquired in the 1980s but several have been lost in crashes. Apparently 11 have been made flyable again.

In addition to refurbishing some of its existing, the NAF has also acquired additional platforms. For instance, it recently inducted Gazelle helicopters, which are believed to have entered service in February this year.

Three Beechcraft King Air 350i light transport aircraft were delivered in August last year, together with two AgustaWestland AW101 VIP transport helicopters. The NAF is also acquiring six Mi-35M attack helicopters and 12 armed Mi-171Sh helicopters, which were ordered in August 2014.

Earlier this month, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu, said the acquisition of new aircraft assisted the military in combating Boko Haram insurgents, such as the King Airs, Mi-35s, Diamond DA 42s and unmanned aerial vehicles.

According to Premium Times, Amosu said the Nigerian Air Force has reactivated and refurbished C-130, Super Puma and Do 228 aircraft and is successfully maintaining its Alpha Jet, C-130, Mi-35 and G.222 fleets.

Amosu said some of the Nigerian military’s successes were assisted by foreign partners. “When it comes to the partnership, we want to thank the nations of Pakistan, Ukraine and South Africa – we got huge expendables from them – that changed the entire situation in the north east. We want to thank them and we really appreciate the partnership,” he said

On 19 May the NAF awarded 11 new pilots with their wings and announced that 32 student pilots are in training in the USA and Nigeria and these were set to receive their wings before the end of this year, reports the Vanguard. Another 15 pilots received their wings on 15 April.