The Nigerian Air Force has apparently taken delivery of its third and final JF-17 Thunder fighter from Pakistan.
Photos emerged on social media on 29 April showing a Pakistan Air Force Il-76 transport aircraft (R09-001) apparently at Makurdi Air Force Base. Flight tracking data shows the aircraft departed Pakistan on 28 April, heading for Africa.
Unconfirmed sources state all three JF-17s have now been delivered, with the most recent aircraft being reassembled.
The first JF-17 was delivered around 21 March, again aboard Il-76 R09-001.
The Nigerian Air Force ordered three JF-17s from Pakistan, with registrations NAF-720, NAF-721 and NAF-722.
In 2018 Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved a $184.3 million sovereign guarantee for the production of three Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC)/Chengdu JF-17 fighters, according to the Pakistan Express Tribune.
The newspaper at the time reported that Ministry of Defence Production officials had said PAC Kamra had signed a contract for the sale off three JF-17s to Nigeria. It is not clear how many JF-17s Nigeria will ultimately order, as it has only made small payments over the last several years towards the fighters. More are likely to be ordered to replace or supplement its F-7Ni fleet – a third of its 15 F-7Ni/FT-7Ni aircraft have been lost in crashes.
The Nigerian acquisition of the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter jets is part of an ongoing fleet modernisation programme that includes the procurement of eight Russian-made Mi-35M attack helicopters and 12 A-29 Super Tucano close air support aircraft from the US.
Since mid-2020, Nigerian Air Force pilots and crew for the JF-17 have been training in Pakistan.