21/01/2020 – The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is about to take into service two more AW109 Power helicopters after they were delivered by air from Italy last week.
The two partially disassembled rotorcraft, along with equipment and spares, arrived at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja on board a Boeing 737-400 Cargolux Airline aircraft from Malpensa International Airport in Italy on 15 January 2020.
A team from the Nigerian Air Force and Leonardo Helicopters then proceeded to begin assembling the aircraft (NAF 579 and NAF 578) in preparation for introduction to service. The first two were inducted on 29 April 2019 during the NAF Day celebrations in Abuja.
The two latest AW109s will be deployed to theatres of operation across the country to reinforce the Air Force’s capability in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality, according to Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information with the Nigerian Air Force.
The previously delivered AW109 Powers have been fitted with gun and rocket pods and used on combat operations.
The NAF said that over the last five years it has taken delivery of 21 new aircraft, including ten Super Mushshak trainers, 5 Mi-35M attack helicopters (with more due to be delivered), two Bell 412 helicopters and four AW109 Power helicopters.
Beside these, 15 additional aircraft have been ordered by the Federal Government, which include 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft and 3 JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft. Photos posted online earlier this month seem to indicate Nigeria’s Thunders are almost ready for delivery.
The NAF said it also took over 11 aircraft from other ministries, departments and agencies including three EC-135 helicopters and three Dauphin helicopters from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), three Donier 228 aircraft and two Agusta AW101 helicopters from the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) making an unprecedented total of 47 aircraft that have either been inducted into the NAF or ordered for the Service since 2015. Meanwhile, more than 20 previously grounded aircraft have been reactivated within the past five years.