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Nigeria to buy JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets from Pakistan Worth $25m

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Nigeria government is about concluding plans to buy three new JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter jets from Pakistan for $25 million, within the year.

More so, the goverment has also set aside money to purchase 10 PAC Super Mushshak basic trainers and two Mi-35M helicopters, Nigerian newspaper Punch reported Wednesday.

PUNCH newspaper reports that it obtained the information on the Nigerian government’s procurement plans from a leaked copy of the 2016 budget, which Buhari presented to the National Assembly in December.

Buhari reportedly proposed to spend some $326 million for the acquisition of various combat aircraft, equipment, vehicles and ships in the 2016 fiscal year, as the Nigerian military aims to defeat Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast.

Nigerian military officials have apparently been interested in obtaining the JF-17 since the 2014 International Defense Exhibition and Seminar in the commercial capital of Pakistan.

During the exhibition, a Pakistani defense official said Nigeria was close to signing a contract for the fighter jets to upgrade its air force. But a deal was not subsequently finalized, according to South Africa’s defenceWeb.

Sri Lanka has reportedly signed a deal with Pakistan for an initial eight JF-17 Thunder jets, as the two countries aim to boost defense cooperation. There has been no official confirmation of the agreement, though it has been widely reported, according to Defense News.

The JF-17 Thunder is a lightweight, single-engine, multirole combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China’s state-owned Chengdu Aircraft Corporation.

The jet is equipped with a 23mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon and can also be armed with both air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.

As of now, the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) is the only one using the aircraft. So far, the (PAF) has received 50 Block I planes, and is scheduled to receive 16 Block-II JF-17s annually over the next few years.

The plane is manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) west of Islamabad, which has the capacity to produce 25 aircraft per year, according to the head of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Air Marshal Javaid Ahmad. Pakistan produces 58 percent of the airframe and China 42 percent respectively, Flightglobal notes.

If the deal goes through, Nigerian Air force will be the first to acquire the high calibre aircraft in Africa.