Three newly delivered Chengdu Aircraft Corporation-Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (CAC-PAC) JF-17 Thunder multi-role combat aircraft have been formally inducted into Nigerian Air Force (NAF) service.
An acceptance ceremony for the aircraft – serials NAF720 (c/n FC10260/2P-60); NAF721 (c/n FC10261/2P-61) and NAF722 (c/n FP10262/2P-62) – took place at Makurdi Air Base in Nigeria’s Benue state on May 20. The event occurred at the conclusion of the NAF Day Celebration 2021, which marked the air arm’s 57th anniversary. The first example was delivered to the NAF by a Pakistan Air Force Ilyushin Il-78MP (NATO reporting name: Midas) tanker-transport on March 21, 2021, with the remaining two arriving in the African nation in a similar fashion over the following weeks.
The induction ceremony was performed by the President and Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Honourable Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Magashi (Rtd). They were accepted from representatives of the PAC, which built the aircraft. During the historic occasion, the President stated that the induction ceremony was personally rewarding to him as it marked yet another step in his promise to improve the infrastructure and equipment dispositions of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) and other security agencies.
In his address, the NAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, noted that while serving under President Buhari, the air force had previously inducted 23 brand-new fixed-wing aircraft into its inventory, including ten PAC-manufactured MFI-17 Super Mushshak basic trainers. It has also accepted 13 new rotary wing combat platforms, comprising five Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters; four AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters) AW109E Power helicopters; two Mil Mi-171Es and a pair of Bell 412s.
The CAS also said that 20 additional aircraft are expected to join the NAF’s inventory in the near future, including 12 Embraer-Sierra Nevada Corporation A-29B Super Tucano light attack/counterinsurgency aircraft and eight unmanned aerial vehicles – which are all reportedly of Chinese origin. Deliveries of the former are scheduled to begin in 2022. The latter are reported to comprise two Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) GJ-2/WD-2 Wing Loong IIs; a pair of China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASC) CH-3 Rainbows and four CASC CH-4s.