Pakistan assisting Nigerian Air Force


The Pakistan Air Force is assisting the Nigerian Air Force with maintenance and training for its F-7 fighter jets and in building the Nigerian Air Force’s capacity.

Last week the Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, paid an official five-day visit to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as part of efforts to strengthen bilateral defence relations. Butt said he would help the Nigerian Air Force reach its full potential and promised that “the Pakistani Air Force and the Defence Industries of Pakistan will not hold anything back from the Nigerian people and the Nigerian Air Force. When we cooperate more, we will develop to reach higher heights,” Pan-African news agency (Pana) quotes him as saying.

Pana reports that Pakistani Air Force personnel are present in Nigeria working to maintain Nigerian aircraft. Two Pakistani pilots are providing technical assistance for the Air Force’s Chinese-built F-7NI and FT-7NI jets. Pakistan also operates the type and has trained Nigerian pilots.

The Pakistanis were brought in following several F-7 crashes and the loss of maintenance schedules, which resulted in the grounding of the fleet in October 2012. After assistance from the Pakistan Air Force, the jets were cleared to fly again, Pana reports.

Nigeria received 12 F-7Ni fighters and three FT-7Ni trainers from China, with deliveries commencing in 2009. An F-7Ni crashed in May 2012 whilst another one was lost in March 2011.

Nigerian Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, said the Pakistanis had sent teams to look at the F-7s and instruct the Nigerian Air Force. He added that in addition to the F-7s, the NAF was looking for assistance with its C-130 transport aircraft, as well as instructor pilots for them, and also wanted help training pilots at the Nigerian Air Academy. Nigeria is in the process of refurbishing some of its grounded C-130s.

Butt’s visit comes after Badeh visited Pakistan last year.

Butt also met with Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, and other officials and agreed to increase defence cooperation between Pakistan and Nigeria. He said that the Pakistan Air Force was ready to cooperate with the NAF regarding combating militancy and terrorism, especially as this has also been the bane of Pakistan. Last week the Nigerian Air Force launched air strikes against Boko Haram militants in the north of the country. Numerous aircraft, including Alpha Jet trainers/light attack jets, have been deployed as part of the operation.