Written by BDJ Desk
Nigeria has allocated NGN 13.12 billion ($36 million) as a payment for an order for three JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighters in its federal budget – along with support equipment and spare parts – from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). This follows an earlier allocation in 2016 worth NGN 5 billion ($13.9 million)... ...
for a similar proposal. The budget proposal reaffirms that the Nigerian Air Force’s order for three JF-17s is still in place, but it is being executed through installments paid in cash. The Nigerian Air Force, PAC and Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), all three parties involved have yet to release delivery timeline. Back in the 2017 budget proposal, Nigeria had reserved $68.76 million for platforms for “counter air, counter surface, air ops for strategic effect and air support operations.”
It appears that the JF-17 is sharing the allocation with the Russian Helicopters Mi-35M, for which Nigeria took delivery of two and has 10 on order (with delivery scheduled for 2018), and 12 A-29 Super Tucano turboprop-powered close air support (CAS) and light-strike aircraft from the USA for which the payment is scheduled to have started from February 2018.
The Nigerian Air Force started taking delivery of the Super Mushshak trainers from July 2017 which it ordered from PAC in 2016. PAC delivered five newly built units, replacing the interim aircraft it had lent in December 2016. Nigeria has ordered a total of 10 Super Mushshak trainers.
It seems that the Nigerian Air Force has taken an incremental approach to the induction of the JF-17. Considering the fact that it does not operate an advanced modern fighter other than a dozen F-7NI (a variant of F-7MG) of Chinese origin, it seems sensible to have ordered three-odd JF-17, on which maintenance crews would get trained, followed by pilots that will form the core and be available for future inductions.
From an operational perspective, a small purchase of the existing JF-17 Block-II aircraft leaves the option of inducting JF-17 Block-III open and on the table, which is likely to be available in about two years down the line. In this time the NAF would have set up the basic infrastructure for training and maintenance and have trained sufficient pilots to induct the more advanced version of the JF-17.
As PAC Kamra mostly focused on fulfilling the requirements of the PAF of replacing 190 aircrafts in its existing fleet of Mirage-IIIs and F-7s by 2020, a small export order is feasible for production.
Nigeria will join Myanmar as the second third-party user of the FC-1/JF-17 platform. Myanmar signed its order for 16 FC-1 during the 2015 Paris Air Show. Myanmar’s first FC-1 was spotted undergoing flight tests in China with Myanmar markings on its tail in June 2017.
[Source: FlightGlobal, Defence Blog]