The Nigerian air force has inducted three Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Corporation JF-17 fighters.

The three aircraft were inducted during a ceremony at the nation’s Makurdi air base, where the fighters will be based, says a post on the air force’s Facebook page.

The induction was part of the air force’s 57th anniversary celebrations.

The Nigerian air force is in the process of a significant modernisation. Air force chief Olaydao Amao said 23 new aircraft have been inducted in recent years, including 10 Super Mushshak trainers, five Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters, two Mi-171E utility helicopters, and two Bell 412s.

The addition of the JF-17s takes this number to 26.

Amao adds that the new assets have an import role in battling an insurgency in the country’s northeast.

In addition, the Nigerian air force is awaiting 12 Embraer/Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano ground-attack aircraft, as well as eight unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) being acquired from China.

The Super Tucanos are due for delivery in the middle of the year.

In a November 2020 Facebook post, the air force said the new UAV fleet will comprise two AVIC Wing Loong IIs, four China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation CH-4s, and two CH-3s.

News of the Nigerian JF-17 acquisition was first confirmed in January 2018, when they appeared on a 2018 budget document. This made Nigeria the first customer for the type outside of Pakistan to be named. Myanmar also operates the type.

There have also been recent media reports that Chinese defence exporter CATIC is pitching the JF-17 to Argentina.