The Nigerian Air Force, in its bid for increased self-reliance, has successfully reconfigured 2 demilitarised Alpha Jet in its inventory that were hitherto acquired without weapon delivery capability. The 2 aircraft are among the 4 Alpha Jets bought from the United States in 2015 by the immediate past administration to enhance the operational capability of the NAF to combat Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
However, the aircraft could not be deployed to the theatre of operation before now due to the inherent weapon delivery deficiency hence its limited use for training purposes. The urgent need, in recent times, to commit more NAF platforms to OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE to enhance the success of the counter insurgency operation necessitated the Service to look inward to seek ways of achieving its drive for self reliance through research and development.
The NAF had earlier looked overseas for assistance without much success to get the aircraft reconfigured for combat roles.
A number of vendors invited to Nigeria to assess the platforms had concluded that it would be difficult or almost impossible to undertake the project since the Original Equipment Manufacturer had long closed down the production line.
A few others who agreed to the possibility of having the aircraft reconfigured to carry munitions also submitted proposals for initial assessment fees ranging from $20,000 – $30,000 before they could come up with the actual cost of the project.
Convinced that the project would work, the NAF consequently assembled a team of technicians to develop a feasible model for the project. The model worked on ground, and has since been mounted on the Alpha Jets, and test flown successfully.
This feat is a major research and development breakthrough for the NAF and the Nation as a huge foreign exchange saver given that the project only cost about N400,000.00 compared to what would be required to have it done abroad.
Group Captain AK Famuyiwa
Director of Public Relations & Information