Leonardo Helicopters has flown a third AW109E Power helicopter destined for the Nigerian Air Force, with the rotorcraft undergoing pre-delivery test flights in Italy.
The aircraft was spotted at Varese-Venegono airport on 20 May, wearing desert camouflage and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) roundel. The previous two AW109s delivered were in dark green camouflage.
These were unveiled on 22 April in partially assembled condition and displayed during the NAF’s 55th anniversary celebrations between 27 and 29 April, where they were fitted with gun and rocket pods.
Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar revealed the delivery of the AW109 helicopters in December last year. The Nigerian government has already budgeted for two AW109s but more are likely to be ordered as the government allocates more money in future budgets. In 2018 the government set aside nearly N6 billion ($19 million) for the procurement of two new AW109s, which will join the AW109 LUHs already in service with the Nigerian Air Force and the A109Es in service with the Nigerian Navy. Nigeria also has 12 Mi-35Ms on order, with four already delivered.
Ahead of Air Force Day, Air Commodore Nnamdi Ananaba, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 2019 NAF Day Celebrations, said on Tuesday that the NAF will be soon taking delivery of four new A109 Power, one Mi-35M and one AW139 helicopters, as well as 12 Super Tucano light attack/trainer turboprops.