|NAF receives final delivery of Chinese aircraft|
(Janes Defence Weekly)
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has revealed that it has now taken delivery of all 15 of its new Chinese-made F-7 combat aircraft as part of a continuing process to modernise the service.
The new fleet comprises 12 CAC F-7NI combat aircraft and an additional three FT-7NI trainer aircraft, which will replace the existing MiG-21 ‘Fishbed’ fighters that have been grounded for several years. Essentially the new fleet will allow the NAF to operate a genuine combat aircraft for the first time in a number of years. However, at present only the FT-7NI trainer variant has entered service.
News of the delivery was announced as the NAF celebrated its 46th anniversary with an Air Expo which, with the induction of the FT-7NI, included the formal commissioning of the ATR 42 maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs), and the AgustaWestland AW109 light utility helicopter into air force service. All three types have been acquired as part of a long-overdue recapitalisation programme funded through the NAF’s annual USD382 million budget.
Since December 2009 the NAF has taken delivery from Alenia Aeronautica of two ATR 42 MPAs fitted with Galileo Avionica’s Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance Systems (ATOS). In addition, it has also procured a single refurbished ex-Italian Air Force G.222 transport aircraft from Alenia as part of a deal to upgrade five aircraft in its exisitng G.222 fleet.
A first pair of what may be as many as 13 AW109 helicopters were delivered in February of this year, although this final number has not been confirmed. The two helicopters were inducted into service by the 305 Flying Training School at Enugu. The Nigerian cabinet has also approved a contract to purchase five refurbished AS 332 Super Puma helicopters from France for operations in the country’s Niger Delta region.
The procurement drive is matched by a series of reactivation projects, which include overhauls of the NAF’s Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and Aero Vodochody L-39ZA armed jet trainers.
The US Air Force has assisted in this effort by renovating a single C-130 to an airworthy standard in order to enable a more thorough overhaul to be conducted in Europe as Washington tries to assist in developing an indigenous airlift capability in Africa.
Meanwhile, 12 modernised Aermacchi MB-339CD jet trainer/light attack aircraft are due to re-enter service following an overhaul by Alenia under a 2006 contract.
In order to address the serviceability issues that have plagued the air force’s fleet of aircraft in recent years the NAF is also working to develop in-country maintenance capabilities with partnerships between its wholly owned Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited (AETSL) and companies such as Alenia Aeronautica, AgustaWestland and BSVT of Belarus.
“Aggressive negotiation of new and informed renegotiation of old contracts” has allowed the NAF to optimise its limited resources, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, the NAF chief of air staff, said at the mid-May Air Expo.
Nigeria has also intensified training efforts for air and ground crews as part of its resurgence, he added. Training has begun, albeit slowly, at the country’s three training schools, while the NAF is also moving forward with plans to set up a new instructor pilot training school
*Carries TWO 30mm autocannons (not ONE, as is the case with older variants)
*British Type 226 Skyranger radar: Ranging radar that weigh 41 kg with a range of 15 km.
*British Type 956 HUDAWAC: This HUD has a build-in weapon aiming computer, hence the name ‘H’ead-‘U’p ‘D’isplay ‘A’nd ‘W’eapon ‘Aiming ‘C’omputer.
*British Type 50-048-02 digitized air data computer
*British Type 2032 camera gun, which is linked to HUD with capability to interchange rolls of film while airborne. Each roll of film lasts more than 2 minutes
*American converter that is over 30% more efficient in comparison to the original Chinese converter.
*American Type 0101-HRA/2 radar altimeter with range increased to 1.5 km in comparison to the original 0.6 km of the Chinese radar altimeter it had replaced.
* British AD-3400 secured radio with range in excess of 400 km at 1.2 km altitude.
*Other improvement includes domestic newly designed CW-1002 air data sensor developed in conjunction with the western avionics, and WP-7B/WP-7BM engine.
*A totally different wing enabled the take-off and landing distance to be reduced by 20%, while increasing the aerodynamic performance in dogfights.
According to customers’ claims, F-7M(of which the F7-NI is a later development) is nearly 40% more effective than MiG-21 in terms of overall performance. It can use French R550 Magic and PL-7 Air-to-air missiles.