The Nigerian Air Force (NAF)’s Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar formally requested the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Army to provide training support to the NAF.
According to an official press release by the NAF, Air Marshal Abubakar was eager to draw on the expertise of Pakistan’s various special operates forces (SOF) bodies to train NAF Special Forces units as well as the NAF Regiment, which provides force protection for airfields and key installations.
In June, Nigeria inked a deal for 10 Super Mushshak trainers from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). Alongside the Super Mushshak, the NAF will also receive support from a number of PAF pilots, who will join the NAF’s 310 Flying School to help train future NAF pilots. The NAF is also reportedly in the process of preparing for the induction the JF-17s, which it had reportedly ordered in the early part of 2016. With three JF-17s on order (for which $25 million U.S. has been allocated for the current fiscal year’s budget), the NAF is planning to raise a squadron of multi-role fighters.
At this stage, it is apparent that Nigeria is looking to rely on Pakistan to not only provide equipment, but also training and capacity building support. Nigeria’s primary security focus seems to center on counter-insurgency (COIN) against non-state actors. This is an area that Pakistan has built tangible experience in over the past decade, and is in fact in the process of translating that experience into a formal institution – the Airpower Centre of Excellence (ACE).
Ultimately, Pakistan’s presence in Nigeria could be relatively comprehensive and long-term. At this stage, it is destined for preliminary flight training and potentially SOF capacity building, but once the NAF inducts the JF-17 – as well as potentially the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano COIN attacker – the PAF’s work could expand to provide training in air-to-ground strikes and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
Through the JF-17, Pakistan may see a vertical integration opportunity for its defence industry. General purpose bombs (GPB) from Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) and precision-guidance kits from Global Industrial Defence Solutions (GIDS) could potentially be offered to the NAF. Through the JF-17 and Super Mushshak, PAC will also see added benefits through after-sale maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and potentially upgrade work.