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Nigerian Air Force inducts Mi-171E helicopter

06 February 2020
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The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) inducted a single Mi-171E and two AW109M helicopters on 6 February in a high-profile ceremony in Abuja that was attended by President Buhari.

The Nigerian Air Force has received the first of two Mi-171E multi-purpose helicopters. (Nigerian Air Force)The Nigerian Air Force has received the first of two Mi-171E multi-purpose helicopters. (Nigerian Air Force)

The NAF announced in January that two new AW109Ms and been delivered but its procurement of the Mi-171E was previously unreported. This is an export version of the Russian military’s Mi-8AMT with VK-2500-03 engines, making it appropriate for hot-and-high conditions.

A NAF officer said during the induction event that the NAF was expecting a second Mi-171E to be delivered, as well as three JF-17 jet fighters and 12 EMB 314/A-29 Super Tucano light attack turboprops.

Russia’s Rosoboronexport defence export agency announced in September 2014 that Nigeria had ordered six Mi-171Sh (the export version of the Mi-8AMTSh) and six Mi-35M helicopters.

However, the deputy head of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Co-operation said in September 2016 that Nigeria had signed a contract in October 2015 covering 12 Mi-35M attack helicopters, without mentioning any transport types.

Meanwhile, NAF officers have stated that six Mi-35Ms had been ordered without mentioning any Mi-17s. The first two Mi-35Ms were inducted in April 2017, with a second pair following a year later.

One of the new helicopters subsequently crashed on 2 January 2019. That followed the crash of a Mi-17 on 8 January 2018. The NAF denied the aircraft was shot down as claimed by the militant group known as Boko Haram.

The group released a video showing the wreckage of helicopter NAF 558, which appeared to leave NAF 270 as the air force’s only operational Mi-17.

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