The Nigerian Air Force will soon take delivery of two AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters originally intended for the Indian Air Force and will be used for VIP transport duties.
One of the AW101s was seen at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil, Somerset, in the United Kingdom painted in Nigerian Air Force (NAF) VIP colours. The aircraft will presumably be operated by the NAF’s 101 Presidential Air Fleet in Abuja, according to Air Forces Daily.
The Indian Air Force was originally scheduled to take delivery of the AW101 but India cancelled the $750 million order with AgustaWestland for 12 top-end helicopters in January, citing a breach of integrity relating to alleged corruption.
The NAF has been receiving a number of new aircraft recently and late last month took delivery of three Beechcraft King Air 350i light transport aircraft, which are operated by the 209 Executive Airlift Group (EAG) at Abuja-Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, according to Defence Web. The 209 EAG recently officially accepted an Mi-17-V5 helicopter, which had previously been operated by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for search and rescue duties.
The Nigerian government has reportedly ordered 40 helicopters for attack and transport duties from the United States and Russia. According to local media reports, the helicopters could start arriving as early as this month and the remainder could arrive by the end of the year.
It was earlier reported that Nigeria is receiving two helicopter gunships, most likely Mi-35s. The Nigerian Budget Office this year allocated funds for six Mi-35M helicopters, the report added.