China’s CATIC to supply strike aircraft and trainers, with shipments to start next year

Nigeria’s defence ministry has signed a contract worth more than $220 million to acquire one squadron of 15 Chengdu F/FT-7NI strike aircraft and trainers from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).

The Nigerian air force will take delivery of 12 F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers under the deal, which details a unit cost of over $11 million. The service’s two-seat FT-7s will be shipped from China next June for reassembly in Nigeria, with the country’s first single-seat fighters to follow from October 2006.

Twelve Nigerian pilots, including four instructors, will travel to China early next year to undergo conversion training on the new aircraft, which is an extensively modified development of the veteran MiG-21 design already in Nigerian service.

A related armaments package accounts for around $32 million of the deal’s value, with thiscovering the supply of PL-9C short-range air-to-air missiles, unguided rockets and 250kg (550lb) bombs for anti-tank and runway denial missions. CATIC will deliver 20 live PL-9Cs, 10 training rounds, launchers and training and support services for the weapon for around $18 million under the agreement.

The acquisition supports an effort to boost the combat effectiveness of the Nigerian air force, which has been diminished through the removal of its Sepecat Jaguars and by the grounding of its 23 MiG-21s. Nigeria’s decision to buy F-7s rules out a proposed $160 million upgrade and life extension for the MiG-21s, which had been pursued by teams comprising Aerostar/Elbit Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries/RSK MiG.

The re-equipment process also involves a more than $70 million deal to refurbish five of theservice’s stored Alenia G222 transports and to acquire one ex-Italian air force example.


Source: Flight International