The Nigerian Air Force has proposed over N25.4billion to purchase fighter aircraft in 2021 which will join the existing fleet of jets combating the Boko Haram terrorists, as the 11-year-old insurgency continues to drain the country’s economic resources.
The NAF, in its 2021 Appropriation Bill obtained by SaharaReporters, said it would spend N17.6billion on three JF-17 Thunder Aircraft while the service would use N5billion for one AW139 Helicopter.
It added that it would procure the various aircraft arms, ammunition and spare parts for another N1.4billion.
Since 2015, the NAF had acquired about 19 aircraft mainly to prosecute the war against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East and other internal security operations across the country.
The NAF fighter aircraft in the North-East are mostly deployed from the Air Task Force Headquarters of the Operation Lafiya Dole, in Yola, Adamawa State.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, had in November 2019 said Nigeria was expecting 18 more aircraft in 2020.
Just in February, President Muhammadu Buhari inducted three fighter helicopters newly acquired by the NAF for the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East region.
The fighter aircraft – two Agusta 109P helicopters and one Mi-171E Helicopter – were unveiled at the Eagle Square, Abuja, and after that deployed to the North-East theatre.
The NAF budget as seen by SaharaReporters, partly reads, “Balance payment for procurement of three JF-17 Thunder Aircraft, Support Equipment and Spares – N17,665,326,652; Part-payment for procurement of one AW139 helicopter – N5,060,448,318; procurement of targeting pod for JF-17 Thunder Aircraft –N3,761,420,000; Procurement of various aircraft arms and ammunition – N650,000.”
The Boko Haram insurgency, which the Nigerian military continues to grapple with, started since 2009 and has continued to eat deep into the economic resources of the country.
On November 10, air chief Abubakar said Six Super Tucano aircraft would soon be delivered to Nigeria from the United States.
Nigeria paid $598million in 2017 for the equipment, and it is unclear whether the aircraft would still arrive in the country this year or next.
In December 2017, the National Economic Council approved the withdrawal of $1billion from the country’s Excess Crude Account to fight the Boko Haram terrorists.
More findings have shown that the Muhammadu Buhari administration already committed over N75 billion to fight the terrorists since 2015.
These sums are from the budgetary allocations of the military to tackle the insurgency, which are outside other special allocations.