The Nigerian Navy may receive three AS565MBe Panther helicopters for use aboard its vessels, according to recent reports.
An Airbus Helicopters Executive told IHS Defence Weekly that the Nigerian Navy was in talks to acquire the helicopters, especially as the type has performed well in US Coast Guard service (the Nigerian Navy operates two ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton class cutters).
The Nigerian Navy flies a single 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.
In 2014 the Nigerian Navy expressed interest in acquiring surplus HH-46E helicopters from the US military and sent a delegation to the United States, which was given demonstration flights in February that year. The Nigerian Navy was interested in acquiring CH-46 Sea Knight and SH-2 Seasprite helicopters, but little came of that.
In May this year Nigeria’s federal government approved the procurement of 12 intervention vessels and three helicopters for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to fight piracy and other illegal activities on the country’s territorial waters. Apparently NIMASA’s AW139 has been abandoned at the Nigerian Navy air wing in Lagos for over two years due to technical problems, leaving it without any serviceable rotary wing aircraft.