The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) announced that it took delivery of its second – and final – batch of Super Mushshak trainers from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) on January 14, 2018.
Delivered by an IL-76 aircraft on Sunday morning at NAF Base Kaduna, the consignment comprised of five aircraft – totaling the NAF Super Mushshak fleet to 10.
Nigeria ordered the aircraft in June 2016 along with a training package which had seen Pakistan Air Force (PAF) instructors join the NAF’s 310 Flying Training School to train NAF instructors for the platform.
In December 2016, PAC had also sent four surplus Super Mushshak trainers to the NAF, enabling NAF air and ground-crews to get acclimated to the platform prior to the delivery of new aircraft. Nigeria returned these aircraft upon receiving its batch of new-built trainers.
Deliveries of the new-built NAF Super Mushshak trainers began on July 2017 with a batch of five aircraft. The final batch will undergo assembly by a joint-NAF and PAF team, after which it will undergo test flights and subsequently formal induction with the NAF.
The Super Mushshak is an upgraded variant of the Saab MFI-17 Supporter. PAC became the manufacturer of the platform in 1983 when its original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Malmö Flygindustri, had ceased the production and support for the aircraft in 1982.
In 2002, PAC introduced the Super Mushshak, which incorporated a glass cockpit, Lycoming IO 540-V4A5 260 hp piston engine and Hartzell two-blade, fixed-pitch aluminium propeller. The Super Mushshak has a best cruising speed of 230 km/h, service ceiling of 18,000 ft and endurance of 5.5 hours. Alongside Nigeria, other recent Super Mushshak customers include Qatar and Azerbaijan.
Notes & Comments:
Nigeria has emerged as the leading overseas customer of PAC. In addition to the 10 Super Mushshak, the NAF also has three JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighters on order. In its federal budget proposal for 2018, the Nigerian government allocated the equivalent of $36 million U.S. as a partial payment, adding to the $13.9 million it had allocated for 2017. The JF-17 will be among the platforms contributing to the NAF’s objective of raising assets for “counter air, counter surface, air ops for strategic effect and air support operations.”
Nigeria is also expected to ink a letter-of-acceptance for 12 Sierra Nevada Corporation A-29 Super Tucano close air support (CAS) aircraft. Although the $593 million U.S. deal is not of direct relevance to PAC, it is worth noting that PAC has also been modifying the Super Mushshak for the CAS role, specifically in terms of counter-terrorism (CT) and counterinsurgency (COIN). Of the aircraft shown with munitions, there was a Super Mushshak with NAF roundels, indicating that the COIN/CT configuration of the Super Mushshak may make its way to the NAF. While of questionable combat utility (due to the relatively under-powered piston engine), the modified Super Mushshak could be a valuable training asset for COIN/CT air operations. It could enable NAF train for conducting laser-guided bomb strikes, spurring both acclimated aircrews and capable ground specialists, such as forward air controllers. This would connect with the NAF’s pending A-29 Super Tucano acquisition from the U.S. and Brazil.