Insofar as the Nigerian Navy’s incoming 1,800 ton P18N Offshore Patrol Vessels are enlarged derivatives of this 1,440 ton Type 056 corvette, there is the continuing need to draw operational lessons from the Type 056 corvette/Harbin Z9 helicopter pairing.
Hopefully, that would serve as a roadmap towards the emplacement of one-stop maritime security solutions for our dear country which is critically assailed on all fronts by a gamut of daunting security challenges at this time.
Speaking of templates to be followed and pairings that demonstrably work, remember that Type 056 corvettes and Type 054 frigates are patrolling the waters around the James Shoal in the disputed Spratlys Islands of the South China Sea as we write this. It is a pairing that is at work for China even now.
From the perspective of lifecycle maintenance support, let me restate my belief that we can and should make Port Harcourt the hub for the construction and maintenance of Chinese-sourced platforms. The angle of one-stop solutions will come into play when we have the optimised Harbin Z9 naval helicopters paired up with the P18N stealth OPVs.
If you ask me, the Nigerian Navy Air Arm should operate and deploy the following airframes as follows
* Bell Jet Ranger – maritime observation and littoral/delta operations in support of counterpiracy and anti-bunkering missions
* Agusta A109e Power – special operations forces insertion, hot extraction, SAR
* Westland Lynx Mk.89 ASW – embarked assets on Western-derived platforms such as the NNS Aradu, NNS Thunder and the incoming USCGC Gallatin
* Harbin Z-9EC ASW – embarked EW and ASW assets on the P18N stealth OPVs.
For maintenance, Agusta/Westland/Bell do work in close collaboration and with the Agusta maintenance facility of the NAF in Lagos, the NN might as well key into that by way of a lateral integration of efforts. That is the way I see it.
Good morning, gentlemen.