Nigerian Air Force restores old combat aircraft to boost its fleet

Nigeria restores old combat aircraft
Nigerian Air Force F-7Ni combat aircraft.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is in great turmoil regarding the expansion of its fleet. There are various activities that the armed force is carrying out to increase its number of aircraft. These include bringing retired jets back into service, carrying out maintenance work and introducing new aircraft.

On 3 November, Chief of Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, during a visit to Kainji Air Base, expressed great appreciation for the maintenance work done on two Alpha Jets, as well as for the recovery efforts of the engines.

Abubakar said NAF has already completed life extension program (LEP) on three L-39ZAs and would soon begin LEP on another batch of three L-39ZAs. He also revealed that similar major maintenance activities have begun to bring the F-7 fighters back into service.

"We have some of our Chinese friends are supporting us to reactivate the F-7s and very soon these fighter jets will be restored to operational status. The idea is to mobilize every NAF resource to ensure that Nigeria and its people are safe," he said.

Abubakar revealed that NAF has already reactivated 20 aircraft that were out of service.

"16 Chinese technicians are working to reactivate two F-7Ni aircraft. In addition, there are 18 technicians from the Czech Republic working with our staff in reactivating the L-39ZA. We want to acquire the essential know-how to be able to carry out these maintenance activities independently."

Abubakar also spoke about the new acquisitions. "We are waiting for 17 new aircraft, including 12 Super Tucanos from the US. Six of these aircraft have been produced so far and some of our pilots and technicians are currently undergoing training in the US to effectively man the aircraft, which is expected to arrive in Nigeria by the second quarter of 2021."

Abubakar said the NAF is increasing its fleet in response to the ongoing conflicts in the north of the country as good air power is needed to monitor the 705,000 square kilometers of the area. "The only way to cover that huge space effectively, including forests, is to have an adequate number of aircraft and good maintenance. This is why we are focusing on developing our capabilities."

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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