Some of the upgraded Alpha Jet aircraft and the additional unit of C130 Hercules can be seen here in this video screen grab.


In September 2013, the Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited of the Nigerian Air Force, in partnership with Sabena Technics of France, delivered a total of nine Alpha Jet aircraft and a C130 Hercules military transport plane to the Nigerian Air Force with a view towards boosting the combat operations of the NAF at this time. All ten aircraft are pre-owned assets and were merely upgraded to meet the specific mission requirements for the ongoing combat operations in NE Nigeria.

Earlier in July 2011, the Nigerian Air Force had also taken delivery of four upgraded units of Alpha Jet from the AETSL. Post-upgradation, the Alpha Jet planes featured elongated nose cones which suggested a new avionics fit and also the A-Jet were returned with six hardpoints, as against the original four hardpoints which they had at the time of induction in the 1980s and all through the ECOMOG era (1990-2000) during which NAF A-Jet aircraft undertook roughly 3,000 combat missions.

Back to the present, it therefore means that a minimum of thirteen upgraded Alpha Jet aircraft have been delivered to the NAF (four units in July 2011 and nine units in September 2013), one of which was lost during an air border patrol mission in Niger Republic during the month of May 2013.


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. wocon45 says:

    Good job NAF at all at all na em bad pass. NAF’s love affair with A jets will be recorded in heaven. My Oga dem Will it be right to say that we are getting more kick out of the A jets than we did from the MIGs during the civil war? By kick I am referring to a combination of number of missions flown, number of local pilots at the helm of affairs, level of technology transfer and cost of maintenance.

  2. BossJoe says:

    Channels news video here

  3. beegeagle says:

    I would say so, WoCoN45. And if they are just being made to become better adapted for combat missions after having flown over 2,800 combat sorties during the ECOMOG years – 1990-2000, upgradation with contemporary systems suggests that they have another decade of service left in them as a COIN platform in much the same way as the Impala Mk.II endured over 35 years of service with the SAAF.

    I say again and with all the emphasis at my command, that in much the same way as the South Africans gave the Impala Mk.II its battle innoculation during the Border War against the SWAPO-FAPLA-Cuban alliance in Angola and on COIN raids across Southern Africa, the NAF have defined the combat profile of the Alpha Jet which has endured thousands of combat missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. And we have every reason to hold our heads high on that score. Before ECOMOG, the A-Jet was just an advanced trainer as far as global reckoning was concerned.

    Who knows why the Thai Air Force snapped up decommissioned German A-Jets? After all, they have COIN operations ongoing in three far southern muslim-dominated provinces – in the hinterland of Pattani.

    I am aware that there is a cascade of the armoured and dedicated Su-25 Frogfoot jets floating around in Russia and Ukraine. With upgrades, we can acquire eight units of those surplus airframes for US$50 million in 2014 to complement A-Jet asset holdings.

    In 2013 when we had to be in Mali and in NE Nigeria for instance, from a pool of twelve A-Jet and eight Frogfoot, it would have been possible to deploy two units each of A-Jet and Su-25 to Mali and four units each of same to N.E Nigeria.

    While attack and assault helicopters should rightly dominate the mainframe for pinpoint and compact area attacks during COIN operations in NE Nigeria, an extensive continuum used as hideouts or bases by terrorists can be taken out by A-Jet/Frogfoot.

    Let us do the needful. Time is of the essence.

    @BossJoe. Thanks.

    @ALL. We are still waiting to make sense of the flurry. Five aircraft hangars at SKK, MKD, MDGR, MNA and BEN plus ground equipment whereas there have been no new deliveries of jets. Such activities normally precede the delivery of aircraft. I am still willing to bet on the fact, given the dalliance between the NAF and their Pakistani friends, that we are bound to see new jets in ser ice come 2014. The to and fro between Abuja and Islamabad also suggests aircraft which the PAF are familiar with…that would be JF17 Thunder jets. Be on the lookout for L15 Falcon jets as well.

  4. rka says:

    This is the hope oga beeg. There are so many types of aircraft being suggested that it probably won’t come to pass that we will have them all.

    The Air force has to be mindful not to have too many types of aircraft in it’s inventory with it’s inherent logistical and operational costs. I won’t be surprised if there is attrition replacements for the F-7s lost in addition to establishing another squadron.

    Added to the aircrafts hoped for is the Super Tucano, which just buttresses the point.

  5. Solorex says:

    I believe that the Alpha jets have served well and are on their way out, I do not believe or see a reason for another deep overhaul like the ones been carried out on then again. In 4-7 years they should be gone. The replacement should be able to serve both as a trainer and primary coin Aircraft. A29 has one of the lowest maintenance cost for a trainer/coin aircraft. It also hs proven records in South America. Elbit has also pimped it so much that it is one of the very few propeller Aircraft that has nearly every single function (Navigation and targeting wise) like a regular 4th generation coin/trainer aircraft. Coupled with the fact that Nigeria Government is bent on encouraging ( by means of financing) a large cache of haul of commercial jets from Embraer to revamp the aviation sector-the deal will be easier( remember the Brazilian president and Top Embraer official have been here this year) Tucanos will most likely be procured-the initial MOU must have been signed now for the VP to make reference to it.

    Our lead fighter jets will most likely be an heavily westernized JF17, because of the great love found between Pakistani Air force and NAF- they helped sort out key issues on F7 and have endeared themselves greatly to us. The Super Tucano cannot adequately serve as a trainer for the JF17 and we may just have to complement it with a dozen L15.

    It is unlikely that we will see Su-25now; the Alpha jets/Mi24 have done a wonderful decimation job(nearly all terrorist 4wds and AAG are goners), but we will most likely see several additional helicopter gunships. The War against terrorist is entering a new phase and there will be several dispersed group and Helix backed up response will be more important than ever now.

  6. jimmy says:

    While I agree …….. with the great work that the A-JETS have done it is hoped …….. with the construction of the the hangers that we shall see the imminent arrival of the JF17 AS THE MAINSTAY of the NAF and the immediate deactivation of the FN-7 fighter. We have seen the hard work put in by the A – JETS IN THE NE and the implication is the FN-7 were not trusted to be used in the NE – this to me is the most damming evidence of why they should be mothballed.
    Defence web whether by speculation or rumor mongering is predicting that 2014 , 2015 will see a rise in air force and army procurement to meet the north east challenges, i do not know how far this is true, however one thing that is beginning to become very pparent Nigeria definitely needs troop insertion helios and even a fool will see we need at the bare minimum a squadron of mi35 gunships this is the way forward in a coin reforming army / air force and navy.

  7. beegeagle says:

    Nice one, gentlemen.

    @Oga RKA. I do not really see a crowded field and logistical nightmares. I believe that the A-Jet and the Albatros are nearing the end of their service lives. The A-Jet has been more of a light attack jet for the NAF while the Albatros – no less the attack ZA/ZO variant as fielded by the NAF – has mostly featured as a trainer.

    So the Frogfoot, which is a newer jet in the field than the Alpha and is a dedicated ground attack aircraft with a stupefying 11 hardpoints and capable of flying through a wall of 20mm flak, will ultimately send the A-Jet into storage in prime condition, ready to be scrambled at short notice.

    On the other hand, the L15 Falcon would put to rest the L39 Albatros. Remember that the NAF were already in the hunt for the L159 Alca pursuant to that long-term goal? So only the ‘real addition’ to the field would be the JF17 Thunder really.

    I mean, we have phased out one fleet of helics, rested the Jags and might yet or have already removed the Hermit helics from service.

    So the Super Tucano and JF17 would be merely taking the places of rested airframes :-). Bring them on.

    • rka says:

      Good points @oga Beeg, but the A-Jets and L139s earlier on, have been refurbished and have probably still got many years ahead of them if avionics etc were also upgraded
      and I can’t see the airforce heirachy putting them in storage albeit maintained in flying condition.

      It still leaves a concern with adding the L-15 Falcon (which I would personally love to
      Good points @oga Beeg, but the A-Jets and L139s were recently upgraded and I can’t see the airforce heirachy upgrading the aircrafts and putting them in storage albeit kept in flying condition.
      To then add the L-15 (which I would personally love to see), SU-25s, JF-17 as well as the Super Tucano not to of course forget about the MB339s, which were supposedly upgraded or being upgraded as LIFT, it would become quite expensive to maintain the fleet especially with politicians going on about competing demands.
      Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see all these aircraft, but they will probably have to be phased in over the next decade or so, don’t you think, apart from the Tucano which is a more urgent requirement?
      If not, I can’t say I will envy the chaps responsible for preparing the training sylabus for the aircrew re type rating etc. I will of course be the 1st to celebrate if purchased, LOL.

      If not it will create a demanding training programme for the various aircraft regarding type qualification etc.

  8. beegeagle says:

    Oga Solorex, ref the F7 are on point there. I have said previously that I have this feeling that the NAF might be relieving the Pakistanis of some F-7PGs which are arguably the most powerful F-7s in the field and are loaded with COTS technologies – some from China, most from the West and they are BVR-capable. The NAF might be taking up a squadron of those and getting replacements for lost F7s. That is all about the force multiplier effect. We could end up with about 30 F-7NI/PGs. But that is not the end of it.

    Personally, I see the NAF reaching out for about sixteen units (twelve attack+four trainer variants) of the JF17 Thunder Block II.

    Again, it seems like the Nigerian military are responding in sync with the lessons learnt from the 1990s when military sanctions nearly decimated the NN and NAF which were top-heavy with Western-made systems, barring the 33 units of MiG 21MF/BIS.

    Therefore, the new way of doing things is to look to China for hardware systems which emphasize ‘open architecture’. That means, the ship or jet might be Made-in-China but they are able to take on Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components and technologies from the West in the first instance. This however comes with the added advantage of having competing Chinese-built components and if encumbered again by Western arms embargoes, those systems can easily be substituted with Chinese components and thus continue their service lives unhindered.

    This is much unlike the situation which sufficed in the 1990s when Nigeria could not keep hardware operable because the Western systems featured ‘closed architecture’ and could not have had any components from China or Russia installed on them.

    Strategically, the plan is brilliant. We cannot lay ourselves open to puppeteering and arm twisting. So we are doing what is sensible and are buying ‘open architecture’ hardware from China which incorporate Western and Chinese components while if they ever become baggage to us, the Westerm components can be substituted.

    So we have Western-made radar systems on the F-7NI while the P18N OPVs are already sure to arrive from China with German engines and British navtronics.

    Way to go.

    • AOk says:

      There must be training problems as NAF are advertising worldwide for Alpha Jet and G222 instructor pilots.

      • Manny Aydel says:

        Please correct me, but why advertise worldwide for A-jet and G222 instructor pilots when there are several retired NAF personnel competent to fill that role? At least for the A-jets?

  9. freeegulf says:

    the L15s would be destined for NAF weapons school, Kainji. they are for fighter conversion unit FCU, rather than simple advance trainer (of course, they can perform this role ) use. they will be designated for air weapons training. the L-39 Albatros would continue its role as an advance trainer for pilots that have successfully completed the primary air training, before moving on to FCU training.

    for now, neither the chinese nor the pakistanis are producing the JF-17 dual seat option. however, specific customers could ask for 2 seat trainer option if the so desire. the aircraft has been design in such a way that it is simple enough for fighter pilots induction. moreover, simulators and the L-15s would make the transition a smooth one.

    what current role the MB-339s will be employed by NAF is still unknown. in the late 80s, they where deployed in calabar as part of the Maritime Strike Group. today, we have the Air Maritime Group and no strike wing in calabar for anti ship missions and air support

  10. beegeagle says:

    Yeah Generalissimo, that is true. The Maritime Strike Group used to field Aermacchi MB 339 jets at Calabar during the early 1990s.

    Last year, the outgone NAF Chief mentioned his readiness to deploy A-Jet in support of maritime security operations and that made me wonder if some of the A-Jet are adapted for maritime strike. Perhaps that also has an echo of times past to it. Recall that during the heyday of the F27-200MPA surveillance planes, some A-Jet were also stationed at Benin in support.

    Today, the 207 Special Mobility Group is based at Calabar and that is where the Mi-171Sh Terminator combat-transport helicopters belong.

    BTW, the four used but pricey units of Super Puma for which orders were placed in August 2010 and which came in two variants – B1 and C1 (two units each) were supposedly dedicated military variants with maritime patrol and SAR capabilities. Dunno about these four latter-day units but the initial haul of Super Puma which arrived in the early 1990s (not to be confused with the regular-sized SA 330 Puma acquired around 1977), supposedly had the ability to launch anti-ship missiles such as the Exocet.

    Perhaps we just felt like patronising the French at the time because for US$102 million we could have got Agusta to supply four brand-new AW139s with SAR+MP capabilities for US$64 million and used the balance of US$38 million to acquire nine factory refurbished Mi-17-V5 with “hot and high” capabilities and which are able to operate in the infernal desert heat of the Far Northeastern borderlands or in the mountainous frontier with Cameroon, chiefly the volcanic and cave-strewn Gwoza Hills and Mandara Mts.

    To this day, I really cannot say why we did not package that deal differently such that it would have yielded a useful thirteen helicopters ( four new AW 139s and nine factory-refurbished Mi-17-V5s). To be sure, the Iraqis lately got a great deal for over 20 units of factory-refurbished Mi-17s at a unit cost of US$3.33m while another larger American-financed deal on behalf of the Afghans cost about US$4+ million apiece.

    Let us be reminded that the NAF operate A109s and AW139s while the NN Air Arm also operate A109s and even a lone AW139 on behalf of the Maritime Guard Command.

    Without horsing around for a minute, the most rugged and combat proven large combat-utility helicopter in the world today, no less a favorite for UN PKOs and relief agencies, is the Mi-8/Mi-17. They are durable and able to withstand untold pressure.

    For good measure, a Puma carries 16 persons while the Super Puma carries 24. Comparatively, the Mi-17 heaves 33 persons while the Mi-171 is capable of transporting 37 persons. That is the story. As for the scorecard in the field, Mi-17s are incomparably rugged and durable. Hopefully, we get to acquire more of those very soon.

    The Sudan which already operate a minimum of 30 units EACH of Mi-24s and Mi-17s lately concluded a US$200 million deal (airframes+training+spares) for 38 units of Mi-24/Mi-17 attack and transport helics. I wonder what Nigeria are thinking.

    We always seem to hope that a conflict somehow fizzles out so that we do not have to spend money on procurement. The sad part of the story is that it creates the impression that the lives of our troops at the frontlines are expendable commodities. The continuing dearth of Casspir+GILA MRAPs and scout/assault/attack helics in the vast and fluid frontlines of the Northeast is unconscionable

  11. Are James says:

    An open question for the forum. What’s the typical conversion and training time for pilots moving between airframes in the third world?. I believe this time interval is key to moving quickly from ‘aircraft acquisition’ to ‘ongoing capability’.

  12. doziex says:

    Oga Are James, I believe NAF and Nigeria are just speaking too much grammer.

    While planning and logistics are essential to adequately back up any fighter acquisition, Nigeria merely uses this as an excuse to do nothing.

    I mean, we have been lollygagging about resuscitating our airforce since OBJ was elected. That was 13 years ago.
    What ever our strategy is, it is damned too slow, and is not working.

    In Uganda with Museveni as the CIC, He just purchased the 6 Su-MK2s, T-90 tanks and other systems, because it needed to be done.
    In time, the UPDF would have to rise to the occasion, and master these systems.

    Tiny Eritrea, has done the same thing, grab Mig-29s. SU-27s and other advanced systems, cause it needed to be done. The rest, they are still figuring out.

    Nigeria should just purchase what we need, then worrying about building up our capacity after the fact. Waiting to build up the capacity first, has not worked for Nigeria.

    We develop the capacity at great expense, then allow it to decay because no assets have been purchased.

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