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US DoD confirms Nigerian AH-1Z buy

Seen in US Marine Corps service, the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter will shortly be flown by the Nigerian Air Force also. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has confirmed the sale of the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter to Nigeria, with a related contract notification posted on 19 December.

Having been approved for the sale of 12 helicopters in 2022, Nigeria's procurement was confirmed with the announcement that Northrop Grumman had been awarded a USD7.7 million contract modification “for the production and delivery of an additional 32 H-1 tech refresh mission computers in support of the AH-1Z aircraft for the government of Nigeria”. Work on this contract is expected to be completed by June 2024.

Nigeria's total AH-1Z procurement was estimated by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to be valued at USD997 million, and comprised the helicopters, related equipment, spares, weapons, training, and support.

The US-built AH-1Z will join the Turkish-built T129 in Nigerian Air Force (NAF) service (although there has been no official confirmation of T129 deliveries, it was reported that training of Nigerian personnel had commenced in May 2023, while footage of the first aircraft undergoing in-country flight trials was recently posted online). According to Janes World Air Forces, the NAF already fields 10 AgustaWestland AW109s, 14 Mil Mi-24/35 ‘Hinds', and an unknown number of Aerospatiale SA 342 Gazelle helicopters in the ground attack and close air support roles.

Further to the NAF's rotary-winged attack capabilities, the Nigerian Army is to receive the MD Helicopters (MDH) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior Plus (CWP) light attack helicopter as part of a revamp of its aviation amid the Boko Haram crisis.

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