Nigerian Navy personnel board a US Marine Corps HH-46E for a search and rescue flight demonstration during a visit to MCAS Cherry Point on 4 February.
IHS JANE’S DEFENCE WEEKLY
17 March, 2014
Gareth Jennings, London
A delegation from the Nigerian Navy recently visited the United States to discuss the procurement of surplus Boeing-Vertol HH-46 Sea Knight and Kaman H-2 Seasprite helicopters from the US Marine Corps (USMC), the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)
announced on 17 March.
The delegation arrived at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point in North Carolina on 4 February for a visit to NAVAIR’s Specialized and Proven Aircraft Program Office (PMA-226) that included a search and rescue flight demonstration aboard HH-46E helicopter.
While NAVAIR said that the Nigerian Navy is interested in procuring surplus HH-46E and H-2 platforms, the command did not reveal possible numbers or delivery timelines. With the HH-46E in the process of being replaced by the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor, and the H-2 now long-retired from US Navy service, there are numerous examples of both types at ‘the boneyard’ at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
As Excess Defense Articles (EDA), the helicopters would only cost Nigeria the expense of retrieving them from the boneyard and re-equipping them for flight operations. The airframes and engines would be gifted, free of charge.
The Nigerian Navy currently operates an air arm made up of three Fokker F27 transport aircraft, four AgustaWestland AW109 Power and two AW139 utility helicopters, two Westland Lynx Mk89 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, and two Bell 206B JetRanger training helicopters.
It is not clear if the HH-46Es or H-2s to be procured would augment or replace any of the types already in service,but with the operational status of the Lynx platforms in doubt it is probable that these would be replaced by the H-2 in the ASW role.
Most of the Nigerian Navy’s aviation assets are land-based,with only the NNS Aradu MEKO Type 360 frigate capable of embarking Lynx/H-2-class helicopters.