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Nigeria confirms M-346 advanced trainer deliveries for this year

19th April 2024 - 18:50 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


Alongside the two dozen M-346 jets, Nigeria has also ordered six T-129 Atak helicopters, two Augusta 109 multi-role helicopters and three Wing Loong II UAVs. (Photo: Leonardo)

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will enhance its fleet with the imminent delivery of six Leonardo-built M-346 advanced trainer and light attack aircraft by the end of 2024.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will receive delivery of the first six Leonardo-built M-346 advanced trainer and light attack aircraft by the end of the year, the service confirmed.

In a social media post, the NAF said that Claudio Sebatino, VP of marketing and sales for Leonardo Aircraft’s Africa sub-suharan region, reassured the service’s chief of its “unwavering commitment to the timely delivery” of the aircraft during a recent visit.

“Further engagement between the NAF and [Leonardo] would be necessary to conclude other aspects of the project, such as the commencement of pilots and engineering training,” the social media post read.

First Nigerian Air Force T-129 Atak helicopters spotted on X ahead of delivery

Although unconfirmed, some pilot training could take place at Leonardo’s International Flight Training School (IFTS) in Italy, where the company has been training Swedish, British, German and Qatari pilots.

The existence of the Nigerian M-346 deal was denied for some time, but at the end of 2022, the country’s then-chief of air staff confirmed the order of 24 trainer/attack aircraft, alongside six T-129 Atak helicopters, two Augusta 109 Trekker multi-role helicopters and three Chinese-made Wing Loong II UAS – the delivery of the first two T129 helicopters took place in November 2023.

The contract with Leonardo included a minimum of 25 years of maintenance and support agreement for the fixed-wing aircraft. The M-346 was initially designed as an advanced/lead-in fighter trainer but it can also be used as a light attack aircraft.

Leonardo has also launched a fighter-attack version of its M-346 advanced jet trainer, dubbed the M-346FA. The trainer and the fighter-attack models have high commonality, including performance and powerplant, but the FA variant includes specific avionics and airframe modifications to support air-to-air and air-to-ground combat roles. It remained unclear which variant the NAF would receive. 

The Shephard News Team


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