The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has inducted three JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft. The PAC JF-17 Thunder or CAC FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon), is a lightweight, single-engine, fourth-generation multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. Its designation “JF-17” by Pakistan is short for “Joint Fighter-17”, while the designation and name “FC-1 Xiaolong” by China means “Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon”.
The ceremony took place on 20 May and was performed by Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari. The induction marked the end of NAF Day Celebration 2021. A JF-17 jet bearing tail number NAF722 was displayed on the airfield of Makurdi during the ceremony. The aircraft will serve as NAF’s frontline multi-role fighter jet. The Nigerian JF-17 is equipped with an Aselpod targeting pod system that can identify targets with pin-point accuracy and inform which ones among them are active. Pakistan had acquired the Aselpad from Turkey’s Aselsan for the use of its own air force.
The Nigerian Air Force has confirmed it is expecting delivery of JF-17 for use in military operations against Jihadi militants in Northern Nigeria. In October 2018 Pakistan approved of the sale and local Nigerian production of three JF-17s for US$184.3 million. On 30 December 2020, the PAC rolled out three JF-17A Block 2s for NAF, which were delivered to Makurdi Air Base in Nigeria in March 2021 aboard PAF Illyushin Il-78MP freighters. NAF may order 35-40 more JF-17s if the aircraft meets its requirements.
The JF-17 can be armed with up to 4,325 kg (9,535 lb) of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, and other equipment mounted externally on the aircraft’s seven hardpoints. All seven hardpoints communicate via a MIL-STD-1760 data-bus architecture with the Stores Management System, which is stated to be capable of integration with weaponry of any origin. Internal armament comprises one 23 mm (0.91 in) GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon mounted under the port side air intake, which can be replaced with a 30 mm (1.2 in) GSh-30-2 twin-barrel cannon.