Nigeria today inducted the JF-17 Thunder jet it imported from Pakistan on the occasion of the 57 th anniversary of the founding of the Nigerian Air Force.
A JF-17 Jet, bearing tail number NAF722 was displayed in the airfield of Makurdi Air Base where the ceremony was held.
A NAF pilot who was briefing dignitaries said during a live broadcase that the JF-17 Thunder is a 4.5 generation fighter jet equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground fighting capability. It has eight under-wing hardpoints to accommodate a variety of bombs and missiles.
He also said that the Nigerian JF-17 is equipped with an Aselpod targeting pod system that can identify targets with pin-point accuracy and inform which ones among them are active. Pakistan had acquired the Aselpad from Turkey’s Aselsan for the use of its own air force. This is the first time it has come to light that the Aselpod is a part of the package sold to Nigeria.
Earlier, the NAF had said that the JF-17 multi-role Thunder aircraft will “add impetus to the ongoing fight against insurgency, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country.” Given this clear message, the JF-17 may immediately put into service to conduct air strikes against the Boko Haram rebels that are running riot in certain parts of the county.
The Vice Chief of Air Staff Pakistan Air Force, Air Marshal Syed Noman Ali attended the induction ceremony.
The three JF-17s ordered by Nigeria are the first of over two dozen that the NAF wants to eventually buy. However it has not indicated when the folow-on orders will come.
The NAF has made it clear that the JF-17 will be its front-line multi-role fighter jet and that it has opted for this fighter due to its low acquisition and maintenance costs.