The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has taken delivery of the first of two Beechcraft King Air 360ER aircraft from American firm Textron Aviation.
The twin-turboprop plane will be converted into a special mission aircraft to support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, according to a report by Military Africa.
It will operate alongside other ISR aircraft in the air force inventory, providing enhanced intelligence-gathering capability in West Africa.
The NAF has been conducting counterinsurgency operations against Boko Haram terrorists, and adding the King Air 360ER to the country’s ISR fleet will help government forces locate and neutralize terrorist hideouts.
Furthermore, the new aircraft is expected to play a critical role in ensuring Nigeria’s national security and contributing to regional stability.
About the Aircraft
According to Textron Aviation, the “high performance” King Air 360ER aircraft features flight characteristics required to address special mission requirements.
It has a state-of-the-art avionics suite with three 14-inch displays and synthetic vision for reduced pilot workload.
The aircraft also has flexible and reconfigurable interiors to accommodate various missions.
The King Air’s maximum speed is 561 kilometers (348 miles) per hour with a range of 4,702 kilometers (2,921 miles).
Nigeria’s decision to procure a new ISR aircraft aligns with its commitment to bolster its air power projection amid continued regional threats.
It also supports the current air force strategy of deploying multiple ISR platforms for extended periods to reduce target engagement time.
Additionally, acquiring the Beechcraft King Air 360ER aircraft addresses ongoing attrition.
Nigeria’s ISR fleet has suffered a series of unfortunate incidents, including in 2021 when its King Air B350 crashed due to engine failure. A second crash happened a few months later, killing then-army chief Ibrahim Attahiru.