The Nigerian Air Force has acquired at least two second hand Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet trainer and light attack aircraft as it continues to expand its aerial fleet, reports today, March 26, Africa-focused website defenceWeb.
One of the jets was seen passing through the United Kingdom on 25 March, having travelled from the United States via Iceland. It then continued to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on its way to Nigeria, reports Air Forces Daily.
It was flown by Air USA Inc, which specialises in military air combat readiness training and flies Hawks, Alpha Jets, MiG-29s and L-59 Super Albatroses. The Alpha Jet seen transiting the UK was cancelled from the United States register on 19 March together with a second Alpha Jet, both originally flown by the Luftwaffe before operating in the States.
The delivery status of the second aircraft is unclear. It is also not clear if the two Alpha Jets are attrition replacements or part of a larger batch being acquired by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
Air USA Alpha Jets were converted for night vision goggle (NVG) operations, according to the company, and flight certified for operational use of TER, IMER and SUU-20 bomb racks.
Nigerian Alpha Jets have been used in the ground attack role to strike Boko Haram targets and a couple have been lost on operations: one crashed in Niger, killing two pilots, in May 2013 while another went down in September last year.
The NAF has recently reactivated a number of its Alpha Jets. A total of 24 were acquired in the 1980s but several have been lost in crashes. Apparently 11 have been made flyable again.
In addition to refurbishing some of its existing aircraft such as the Alpha Jets, L-39s, Super Pumas and C-130s, the NAF is also acquiring additional platforms. For instance, it recently inducted Gazelle helicopters, which are believed to have entered service in February this year.
Three Beechcraft King Air 350i light transport aircraft were delivered in August last year, together with two AgustaWestland AW101 VIP transport helicopters. The NAF is also acquiring six Mi-35M attack helicopters and 12 armed Mi-171Sh helicopters, which were ordered in August 2014.