The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) received two – of an order of twelve – Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters from Russia in December 2016, defenceWeb reports.
“The aircraft have been delivered and are now awaiting official induction, after which they will be commissioned to take part in military operations,” NAF Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar informed local media.
The remaining 10 Mi-35Ms are due for delivery by the end of 2018.
The Mi-35M is the latest iteration of the venerable Hind air assault platform. It is equipped with a new on-board electronics suite comprising of various self-protection measures (particularly for infrared-guided anti-air missiles) and updated avionics, including multi-function displays. The Mi-35M can be armed with a range of air-to-ground munitions including, among others, laser-guided rockets and anti-tank missiles.
Notes & Comments:
The NAF is going through a comprehensive modernization program. The Mi-35Ms will contribute to the NAF’s close air support (CAS) efforts, which will be directed at the country’s counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns. Nigeria is also hopeful of securing U.S. approval for the sale of Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano CAS aircraft to bolster its CAS arm. Although a turboprop, the Super Tucano is capable of deploying air-to-ground munitions – including precision-guided bombs – much akin to a fast jet. It is often marketed as a lower cost, but attack-centric, alternative to fast jet fighters such as the F-16.
In terms of fast jet fighters, the 2016 Nigerian Federal Budget confirmed the purchase of three JF-17 fighters from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). It is likely that the JF-17 falls under the NAF’s plans for “platform acquisitions … for counter air, counter surface, air ops for strategic effect and air support operations” – i.e. a genuine multi-role asset. The outlined scope also opens the possibility of Nigeria procuring a range of air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions for the JF-17, such as the SD-10 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and C-802 anti-ship missile, among others.
When will we get our Mi35s it’s been almost 3 years since the news broke out of us buying the venerable famous Gunship but so far no formal agreement or progress has been done on that and I really hope we just don’t buy 4 token aircraft I could for the life of me can’t understand the logic behind buying just 4 aircraft of which any 3 will be operational at any given time we need commonality and large fleet not this circus of attack helicopters that range from AH 1 Zulu and the old cobras to that underpowered Z10 or the Turkish T129 or the Mi35s this is a travesty I don’t know what’s going on in the minds of army aviation flybois.
Share your frustration, and the need to avoid a logistical nightmare, but we don’t know financial and political constraints or other goings-on behind closed doors. Not trusting the Americans which is constant background noise in any deliberation, is also a factor. I’m sure commission is not a factor particularly after the last and present COAS. A large Zulu buy particularly in its Marine version, coupled with a medium size Mi-35 buy would sort us out. There also the technical factor of ‘hot and high’ conditions, which AH1-Z is good at with a service of 20,000+ feet. The following flight test report on the Zulu is impressive;