The Nigerian Navy has expressed interest in acquiring surplus helicopters from the US military and sent a delegation to the United States, which was given demonstration flights.
US Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) said that a Nigerian Navy delegation visited Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina where they were hosted by Navair’s Specialized and Proven Aircraft Program Office (PMA-226). The delegation was given a search and rescue demonstration flight on February 4 in a US Marine Corps HH-46E helicopter from Marine Transport Squadron 1, which provides search and rescue support at Cherry Point.
According to Navair, the Nigerian Navy is interested in acquiring CH-46 Sea Knight and SH-2 Seasprite helicopters, but the numbers involved are not known.
The Nigerian Navy has a small number of helicopters in service, including one Bell 206, an Airbus Helicopters AS365N2 Dauphin II, an AgustaWestland AW109E Power and an AW139. Three AW109Es were lost in crashes that killed 14 personnel while two Lynx Mk 89s have been inactive for over ten years, Air Forces Daily reports.
The Nigerian Navy plans to ensure operational availability of at least four helicopters this year, according to the Strategic Guidance 02 document.
The Nigerian Navy has in the past acquired surplus equipment from the United States, notably the Hamilton Class cutter Chase (now NNS Thunder), a 115 metre long, 3 250 ton ex-US Coast Guard vessel. This year Nigeria will receive the Hamilton Class cutter Gallatin and the US Navy Survey Ship John McDonnell. Other vessels received from the United States include the NNS Obula, Nwamba, Kyanwa and Ologbo.
The Nigerian Navy is expecting a number of new arrivals this year as it attempts to reduce maritime crime, oil theft and attacks on ships.
Last year the Nigerian Navy took delivery of three OCEA patrol boats, three Manta Fast Patrol Boats and two Shaldag patrol craft. In mid- and late-2014 Nigeria will receive its two P-18N corvettes from China while the Nigerian Naval Dockyard is also building a 38 metre Seaward Defence Boat. Various other vessels are being refit and reactivated.