Nigeria gears up to receive JF-17s

The Nigerian air force is set to receive three Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 fighters, as well as eight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from China.

The JF-17 acquisition will see Pakistani pilots and technicians deployed to Nigeria for the first year of operations in the country, according to a post on the air force’s Facebook page.

Nigerian JF-17 wing

Source: Chinese social media

An image recently emerged of a JF-17’s wing bearing the Nigerian roundel

News of the Nigerian JF-17 acquisition was first confirmed in January 2018, when they appeared on a 2018 budget document. This made Nigeria the first customer for the type outside of Pakistan to be named. Myanmar also operates the type.

Production images of Nigeria’s JF-17s have emerged on Chinese social media in recent months.

In addition, Nigeria will receive eight Chinese UAVs. The Facebook post lists them as “unmanned combat aerial vehicles”, suggesting the UAVs will be armed.

The new UAV fleet will comprise two Avic Wing Loong IIs, four China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation CH-4s, and two CH-3s.

The Facebook post cited remarks by air marshal Sadique Abubakar, commander of the Nigerian air force, on a visit to Makurdi air base, where the JF-17s will be based.

Nigeria is also undertaking work to reactivate nine grounded Chengdu F-7Ni fighters. Seven will be disassembled and shipped to China for life extension work, while two will be reactivated by local technicians.

In addition, two of the air force’s Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet advanced jet trainers are undergoing periodic depot maintenance, and there is a life extension programme for its Aero Vodochody L-39s.