Nigerian Air Force Has 50 Aircraft On Order, Commander States

Credit: Leonardo Aircraft

The commander of the Nigerian Air Force has confirmed that the service is seeking the acquisition of up to 24 Leonardo M-346 light attack aircraft as well as additional helicopters and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.

In a previously unreported post issued through the Nigerian Air Force headquarters social media page in late January, the Nigerian Air Force’s chief of staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, announced the planned acquisition of nearly 50 aircraft for the air service were advancing during 2023.

As well as the 24 M-346s, Abuja also is seeking the purchase 12 Leonardo AW109 Trekker twin-engine multirole helicopters, six Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 ATAK attack helicopters, three Chengdu Wing Loong II uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS), two Beechcraft King Air 360s and four Diamond DA-62s. The latter three types will be used on ISR duties. There was no mention of the request for Bell AH-1Z attack helicopters made to the U.S. in April 2022.

The speech made by Amao is the first confirmation from the air force that it is seeking the purchase of the M-346, although timelines for deliveries are uncertain.

He said some of the platforms would be in service by the end of the first quarter of 2023 and would “further boost [the Nigerian Air Force’s] air power employment and projection capabilities.

The purchase aligns with Abuja’s efforts to strengthen the Nigerian Armed Forces to help tackle the threats posed by Islamic insurgents. Groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa have managed to gain control of significant areas of ungoverned space in the north of the country over the last decade, as well as carrying out attacks and kidnappings across the country.

Recent years have seen the recapitalized Nigerian Air Force take delivery of Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos from the U.S., Pakistani JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft and armed UAS from China.

Amao said the deliveries of these platforms were “instrumental in the feats being recorded against terrorists and insurgents.”

Earlier this month, U.S. rotorcraft manufacturer MD Helicopters revealed it had received an order from the Nigerian Army to supply it with 12 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack/scout helicopters.

The OEM stated the MD530Fs will be used for area security, tactical reconnaissance convoy escort and drug interdiction missions.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.