Nigerian Air Force To Become First JF-17 Export Operator


According to a Punch newspaper report on 6 January, Nigeria is masterminding an act to procure three CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder multirole fighters in 2016.

The newspaper cited a leaked copy of the budget, saying that NGN5 billion (USD25 million) has been mapped out for the procurement of three JF-17s, NGN2.06 billion for 10 PAC Super Mushshak basic trainers, and NGN11.6 for two Mi-35M helicopters.

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PAC JF-17 Thunder is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft built jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. The JF-17 can be used for aerial preliminary survey, ground attack and aircraft interception. Its description or title “JF-17” by Pakistan is short for “Joint Fighter-17”, while the label and title “FC-1 Xiaolong” by China means “Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon”.

Since it was jointly invented by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC), the JF-17 is as of yet only used in Pakistan. According to reports, Nigeria was finalising a JF-17 order, but the deal was not subsequently confirmed.

The JF-17 has the ability of deploying diverse weapons (e.g. bombs, missiles, rockets and gun ammunition) used by aircraft, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon. One can say that the JF-17 is a plane that has the capability to take down any other fighter and it is affordable.

The thunder multirole fighter is powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or Klimov RD-93 after burning fanjet (a type of air-breathing jet engine that is hugely used in aircraft propulsion).

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With a high speed of Mach 1.6, the JF-17 is to be the pillar of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), adding a leg up to the General Dynamics of F-16 Fighting Falcon whose performance it approximately matches, at half the cost.

The PAF inducted its first JF-17 squadron in February 2010 and as at December 2015, 66 JF-17 Thunder Aircraft were in service. If Nigeria acquires the said PAC JF-17 Thunder multirole, the country will be the first JF-17 Export Operator in the world as the jet is only in service in its home of origin Pakistan.

Though the cost of acquiring the jets is not outrageously expensive, people complain the price is too low for three jets.