By Salim Yunusa

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has handed over three JF-17 Thunder aircraft to Nigerian Air Force to enhance its security capabilities

A ceremony in this regard was held at Nigerian Air Force Base, Makurdi, on the 57th anniversary of the Nigerian Airforce.

Vice Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, Air Marshal Syed Noman Ali, was the special guest while Nigeria’s Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi, was the guest of honor.

Speaking at the occasion, Air Marshal Syed Noman Ali said today’s event is a historical landmark for Pakistan’s JF-17 program and reflects strong military cooperation and mutual trust between Nigeria and Pakistan.

Air Marshal Noman Ali said that Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex would continue to provide all-out support to Nigerian Air Force in meeting all its requirements. The Vice Chief of the Air Staff added that the JF-17 aircraft would help improve the defense capabilities of the Nigerian Air Force.

Addressing the gathering, the guest of honor thanked Pakistan Air Force for extending its support and cooperation in enhancing the Nigerian Air Force’s capabilities to meet Nigeria’s security challenges.

Referring to the new induction, he said, “We are happy and excited about the addition of JF-17 fighter aircraft from Pakistan.”

The Nigerian Air Force had ordered three JF-17 Thunder jets in 2018, and the delivery was expected by the end of 2020, which was pushed by six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan’s Air Force has also trained Nigerian pilots and ground crew to support these aircraft, as well as enabled the African-based force to indigenously train personnel, making the whole training and maintenance process local.

Asked about future cooperation, author, analyst and former Pakistan Air Force pilot Kaiser Tufail anticipates incremental developments.

“The NAF has decided to induct the JF-17 in stages, as it does not have the wherewithal to support a full squadron strength all of a sudden. More aircraft are to be inducted in the coming months,” Tufail said

Nigeria is expected to use these aircraft in its operations against armed bandit groups, Boko Haram, and other insurgent groups in the north of the country.


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