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Nigeria’s Air Force is set to receive a significant boost in its capabilities with the upcoming delivery of the first six M-346 Master light fighter-trainer aircraft from Italy. This marks the initial phase of a larger procurement deal involving a total of 24 M-346s.

The contract stipulates the delivery of the aircraft in four batches, each comprising six planes. This phased approach allows for pilot training and infrastructure development alongside the arrival of the new jets. Importantly, the deal also includes 25 years of logistical support from Leonardo, the Italian manufacturer.

Nigerian officials have denied speculations that the M-346 acquisition is a replacement for the existing JF-17 fighter jets. They clarified that only three JF-17s are currently operational, highlighting the need for additional airpower. Talks with China regarding the JF-17 program reportedly remain ongoing.

Nigeria is demonstrably committed to modernizing its air force. Discussions are also underway with India for the potential procurement of India’s indigenously developed LCA Tejas Mk1A fighter jets. This multi-pronged approach suggests Nigeria’s strategic intent to diversify its fighter jet fleet and establish a robust aerial defense capability.

The arrival of the M-346s marks a significant step forward for the Nigerian Air Force. The multi-role capabilities of these jets, coupled with long-term logistical support, will enhance Nigeria’s ability to address security threats and ensure national security. With discussions ongoing for additional fighter jet acquisitions, Nigeria appears committed to building a more potent air force in the years to come.