Nigeria Announces ‘Overambitious’ Plan to Buy 50 Military Aircraft

Nigeria has announced plans to further boost its counter-terrorism capabilities by procuring 50 new military aircraft.

Speaking at the opening of two new aircraft hangars in northwestern Nigeria, Chief of the Air Staff Hassan Bala Abubakar said the country will acquire 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and a dozen more AW109 multi-purpose helicopters.

It will also place an order for 24 M-346 light fighter-trainer aircraft from Leonardo and two C-295 medium tactical transport aircraft manufactured by Airbus.

Abubakar explained that the new planes will be used to bolster military offensives against jihadist groups and armed gangs that have been terrorizing Nigeria’s northwest and central states.

Deliveries of the new aircraft are expected to begin next year.


Nigerian defense analyst Mike Ejiofor bluntly questioned the intent of the plan, saying procuring dozens of military aircraft is “overambitious.”

He also claimed that the move is possibly misdirected as Abuja can channel the funds to the training of ground troops so they can better carry out counter-terrorism missions.

“I know it will bolster the fight against terrorism, but I believe that we should concentrate more on land than air,” he stressed. “We’re not at war!”

By appropriating money to proper priorities, Ejiofor said he believes the country can achieve more positive results.

Bolstering Counter-Terrorism Efforts

Nigeria has made large investments in bolstering its counter-terrorism capabilities, including last month when it received 20 armored personnel carriers.

The army also announced earlier this month that it will soon receive an additional fleet of tactical armored vehicles to help combat growing threats from bandits and terrorists.

The military faced public scrutiny late last year after more than 80 innocent people were killed during an airstrike in Kaduna state intended to target gangs.

Nigerian officials have since promised to operate with more precision to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

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