This is why Leonardo ATR-42MP is decisive for Nigerian Air Force

Nigerian Alenia Leonardo ATR42 ISR
Nigerian Air Force ATR-42 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

Nigeria signed a contract in 2007 with Alenia Aeronautica (which later became Leonardo) for the supply of two ATR-42MP Surveyor maritime patrol aircraft to replace the old Dornier 128 and 228 aircraft in the Nigerian Air Force fleet. Delivered between 2009 and 2010, Nigerian ATR-42s have scored more than 5,000 flight hours each in less than 10 years of operation.

The two aircraft are used to patrol Nigeria's exclusive economic zones, Search And Rescue (SAR) operations and maritime environmental control. In addition, they perform the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) role by identifying critical information pertaining to the battlefield. They are essentially the eye of the Nigerian Air Force in the sky, providing threat detection and coordination directly from the air. The aircraft's sensors are capable of processing, transmitting or receiving information in real time from land, air and sea.

During military operations, the acquired data is provided to the NAF Alpha Jet and L-39 light fighters which are equipped with old radars with limited capabilities. Situational awareness is key to reducing vulnerability and increasing mission success. According to Nigerian defense officials, the intelligence-driven air strikes have allowed the nation to counter several terrorist actions.

The Nigerian ATR-42MPs are equipped with Leonardo's Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance System (ATOS), which includes modern search radars and electro-optical surveillance and tracking sensors (EOST-45).

In order to highlight the aircraft's effectiveness, Defense News Nigeria noted that it was decisive for the capture of Ndrangheta leader Francesco Pesce in 2011. Italy's most wanted fugitive escaped capture for years, until the Italian police deployed the ATR-42MP in search operations.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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