Nigeria is reviving its air force with a number of aircraft acquisitions from abroad and refurbishment of grounded aircraft to intensify its operations against Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and reposition itself to better protect its national security. Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that: “The Nigerian Air Force has adopted and is currently executing operational strategies to boost the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Air Force while also improving the welfare of its airmen and some of the communities within its area of operation.”

On October 21, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra signed a contract for ten Super Mushshak trainer aircraft. Currently on loan are eight aircraft until the new aircraft are delivered. PAC’s Kamra Chairman, AM Arshad Malik, said that the contract includes operational training and technical support by the Pakistan Air Force.

At a ceremony held at Nigerian Air Force Base Kaduna on December 5, Air Marshal Abubakar accepted the first four Super Mushshaks with an additional four to be delivered in 2017. According to Abubakar, the air force currently has 70 pilots on training placements locally and abroad. The Super Mushshak  (The Agile) is an upgraded version of the Mushshak fitted with a more powerful engine, cockpit air-conditioning system (Enviro R-134), electrical instruments, and electric trim (elevator and rudder electrical cum manual trim).

Apart from basic flight training, the Super Mushshak can be utilized for:

  • Instrument flying
  • Aerobatics, stalls, and deliberate spins
  • Night flying
  • Navigation flying
  • Formation flying

The Super Mushshak can also be deployed for a wide range of army co-operation missions such as:

  • Forward air control
  • Forward area support with droppable supply containers
  • Reconnaissance
  • Artillery fire observation
  • Camouflage inspection
  • Border patrol
  • Liaison
  • Target flying and target towing for training of ground units

In addition to the Super Mushshak acquisition, Nigeria is set to receive the following aircraft:

  • 4 Mi-35N attack helicopters (Russia)
  • 3 Ex-Brazilian Air Force Super Tucanos (light attack and surveillance operations)
  • 3 JF-17 Thunder fighter jets (Pakistan)

Despite political sensitivities between Nigeria and the U.S., in May 2016 the U.S. was seeking to approve the sale of up to 12 Super Tucanos to Nigeria for operations against Boko Haram. The U.S. has provided millions of dollars towards regional efforts in combatting Boko Haram, and will more than likely continue to do so as long as Nigeria shows progress in ending human rights violations and corruption in its armed forces.


Working with what they already have in their inventory, Nigeria is resurrecting grounded aircraft into service and recently refurbished:

  • 3 Mi-24V and Mi-35P attack helicopters
  • 2 EC-135s
  • 2 AugustaWestland A109s
  • 1 Super Puma
  • 1 Beechcraft light aircraft
  • 1 Falcon jet
  • 1 Diamond DA-42
  • 2 Dornier DO-228 (surveillance and patrol)

The revival of the Nigerian Air Force can only have a positive effect on pilots and will undoubtedly boost morale and professionalism. Air Marshal Abubakar stated that: “By the end of the first quarter of 2017, the NAF would have 21 additional new platforms in its inventory. We are highly excited of this development because the last time the NAF was given such number of platforms at a time was in the early 80s.” The Air Marshal added that the main objective of the air force’s strategy is to enable land and surface forces to operate with little or no limitations: “You cannot eliminate all threats to surface forces, what you can do is to soften the ground sufficiently so that the Army or Navy can move in to conduct their operations.”


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA

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