In a visit to the Nigerian Air Force headquarters, Leonardo Africa sales vice-president Claudio Sabatino reiterates the company’s dedication to delivering the M-346 fighter aircraft, marking a stride in Nigeria’s military modernisation agenda.

During a visit to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) headquarters, Sabatino emphasised the Italian aerospace business’s commitment to ensuring the timely delivery of the M-346 fighter aircraft to Nigeria. Amid discussions with the chief of air staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, Sabatino emphasised the importance of the collaboration between Leonardo and the NAF in advancing Nigeria’s military capabilities.

According to GlobalData’s Nigeria Defense Market 2023-2028 report, the Nigerian Air Force previously acquired twelve MB-339A training and light attack aircraft from Leonardo. 

Expressing gratitude for the warm reception and acknowledging the role of the NAF in fostering a conducive environment for collaboration, Mr Sabatino highlighted the progress made in the aircraft fleet’s manufacturing process, assuring Air Marshal Abubakar of Leonardo’s dedication.

Of particular note was Leonardo’s assurance of long-term maintenance support, a commitment lauded by Air Marshal Abubakar for its role in ensuring sustained operational readiness. Recognising the significance of this partnership, Air Marshal Abubakar proposed the establishment of a dedicated Program Management Office to oversee all aspects of the collaboration.

In other Nigerian military modernisation endeavours, Bell Textron secured a $455m deal with the Nigerian Government. This contract entailed the delivery of 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters to bolster the country’s firepower and enhance counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities. 

The acquisition of the M-346 fighter aircraft represents another milestone in Nigeria’s efforts to modernise its military fleet and enhance operational effectiveness. With the first batch of six aircraft slated for delivery before the end of 2024, the partnership between Leonardo and the NAF commences a new journey of enhanced capabilities and operational versatility for Nigeria’s air defence.

Leonardo’s M-346 aircraft is used globally. In 2023, Leonardo teamed up with WZL1 to provide long-term support for the Polish M-346 Bielik fleet, enhancing fleet availability and fulfilling the Polish Air Force’s combat pilot training requirements. Within the same year, the first two M-346 training aircraft landed in Greece, equipped with integrated virtual avionics to elevate pilot training. 

As both parties look forward to future meetings to delve into detailed arrangements on logistics, maintenance protocols, and configuration requirements, the stage is set for a fruitful collaboration that hopes to bolster Nigeria’s defence capabilities and contribute to regional stability.

The Italian aerospace and defence player exceeded expectations in 2023, reporting a 3.8% increase in orders totalling €17.9bn and a 3.9% rise in revenues to €15.3bn, driven by a 34% aerostructure recovery.