Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has inducted the JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft into its fleet as part of an ongoing modernization.
Nigeria ordered three of the Sino-Pakistani fighters in 2018 to strengthen its air combat capability.
The Nigerian Air Force officially inducted three JF-17 fighter jets at the country’s Makurdi Air Base, while celebrating the 57th anniversary of the Nigerian Air Force’s founding, Chinese state media said Wednesday.
Read more: JF-17 fighter jet gets major upgradation
These three JF-17 fighter jets were manufactured and delivered by Pakistan Aviation Industries, marking Pakistan’s participation in the modernization of Nigeria’s air force.
The Nigerian Defense Minister thanked Pakistan for its role in helping Nigeria meet security challenges. “We are pleased and excited about Pakistan’s delivery of JF-17 fighter jets,”he said.
In addition, the Pakistan Air Force is responsible for providing training for Nigerian pilots and ground staff and promoting the localization of the training and maintenance process.
A JF-17 multirole fighter flanked by two F-7Ni fighter/interceptors. pic.twitter.com/yTvN2FCbUz
— Defense News Nigeria (@DefenseNigeria) May 25, 2021
Asked about future cooperation between the two countries, a former Pakistani air force pilot, said further developments were expected. “The Nigerian Air Force has decided to phase in JF-17 fighter jets, and more new fighters will be in service in the coming months.”
The Nigerian military has been trying to keep its air fleet running, but an aerospace expert says it will no longer be a problem, the report said.
“What I want to say is that a key feature of the JF-17 is its ease of maintenance, which is also in line with expectations for this aircraft,” he said.
Combining lightweight fuselage with modern manufacturing technology, the aircraft features an RD-33 series engine and digital electronics that should give Nigeria’s fighter fleet better operational readiness than before.
But he added: “With only a small number of JF-17 fighter jets currently ordered (in Nigeria), it remains to be seen whether the theoretical advantages here will increase in practice.”