Nigeria’s Air Force officially took delivery of three JF-17 fighter aircraft during a ceremony at a base in Makudri. The ceremony took place on 20 May and was performed by Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari. The induction marked the end of NAF Day Celebration 2021.
The fighters were handed over by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, which constructed the aircraft and was responsible for their delivery. This marks the latest development in the Pakistan Air Force’s involvement in the Nigerian Air Force’s modernization program.
A JF-17 jet bearing tail number NAF722 was displayed on the airfield of Makurdi during the ceremony. The aircraft will serve as NAF’s frontline multi-role fighter jet.
The chief guest, Nigerian Defence Minister Bashir Magashi, thanked Pakistan and its Air Force for their role in modernizing the local service and helping Nigeria meet its security challenges.
“We are happy and excited on the addition of JF-17 fighter aircraft from Pakistan,” he said.
The Pakistan Air Force’s vice chief of the air staff, Air Marshal Syed Noman Ali, pledged the manufacturers and the service will continue their support in helping Nigeria meet its air power requirements.
Pakistan’s Air Force has also trained Nigerian pilots and ground crew to support these aircraft, as well as enabled the African-based force to indigenously train personnel, making the whole training and maintenance process local.
NAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS) marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao said: “These aircraft have significantly boosted our operational effectiveness in the fight to defeat all threats to the nation and its citizenry.
“Through synergy with surface forces, the freedom of action of the insurgents/terrorists in the north-east has been effectively curtailed.
“Consequently, NAF combat and combat support operations, energized by our up-scaled Order of Battle, have contributed to improving the security situation in the north-east, whilst also contributing significantly to dealing with threats in the north-west, north-central and other parts of the country.”
The Nigerian Air Force’s main operational and security concern remains the militant group Boko Haram in the country’s north, former Pakistan Air Force pilot Kaiser Tufail believes the JF-17 will make a considerable impact in addressing the threat.
“The aircraft is quite suitable for [counterinsurgency operations], as it carries a wide variety of weapons, including several with considerable stand-off ranges,” he said. “The electro-optical pod is also available for pinpoint attacks round the clock. The aircraft is likely to prove a gamechanger, and Boko Haram is going to be on the run.”
JF-17 Thunder is a single-engine, lightweight, multipurpose combat aircraft developed jointly by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) of China and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) of Pakistan.