he Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has concluded a deal for the acquisition of 10 Super Mushshak light basic trainer jets from Pakistan to boost training at the force’s main flight training school in the northern city of Kaduna.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony of pilots at the 301 Flight Training School in Kaduna last week, NAF Chief of Staff Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar said the aircraft would be supplied shortly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).
Abubakar said the sale agreement included the deployment of Pakistani pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians to the country to train locals in the operation and maintenance of the aircraft. Further, he said the NAF had just completed an airport expansion to accommodate the new aircraft.
The defense chief added that the NAF garrison in Kaduna will, before the end of this year, take delivery of three Pakistani-made JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft and Russian-made Mil Mi-35 helicopters to boost ongoing counterinsurgency operations against Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the northeast of the country.
“The induction of the Super Mushshak trainer aircraft will boost our capabilities by training our pilots in the full spectrum of military flight training,” Abubakar said. In addition to the 10 new pilots who graduated locally, the NAF has sent 10 pilots for specialized combat training in the United Kingdom while another 10 are being trained in South Africa.
Eight more fighter aircraft and helicopter pilots are undergoing training at the International Aviation College in the city of Ilorin, Abubakar said. The NAF has embarked on a costly force modernization program, with many deals for the supply of new aircraft and aerial defense weapons under currently negotiation.
According to NAF director of public relations and information, Capt. Ayodele Famuyiwa, the country is also negotiating with the US for the acquisition of up to 20 Brazilian-made secondhand A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to replace the aging fleet of Alpha jets, which form the vanguard of the airborne counterinsurgency units.