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Nigeria inducts JF-17 fighters

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) formally inducted its three JF-17 Thunder multirole fighters into service during a 20 May ceremony at Makurdi Air Base that also marked its 57th anniversary.

The aircraft (NAF 120-122) were ordered from Pakistan in 2016 and formally signed over during the event, which was shown live by the NAF.

“The JF-17 aircraft is a single-engine single-seat all-weather day-and-night multirole tactical fighter with full air-to-air and air-to-surface combat capabilities,” an NAF commentator said. It has a range of 1,200 n miles (2,222 km) that can be extended using external fuel tanks and can carry up to 3,700 kg on its seven hardpoints.

It has three multifunctional displays and a head-up display, as well as a defensive aide suite that includes radar and missile approach warning systems, a countermeasure dispenser, and radar jamming pod.

The commentator added that the aircraft “provides low operating costs that come with a new, more efficient aircraft as opposed to much higher operating and maintenance costs associated with competing earlier-generation fighters”.

A pilot provided a briefing on the aircraft, saying it is capable of sharing data with another JF-17 so they see each other’s status. This also allows one to use a missile to engage a target that the radar of a second is locked on to.

The JF-17 was jointly developed by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The NAF is the third operator after the air forces of Pakistan and Myanmar.

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