Nigeria confirms procurement of Leonardo M-346FA light combat aircraft

By Defence Industry Europe

On May 27, Nigeria officially confirmed the acquisition of 24 Leonardo M-346FA light combat aircraft. The size of the order indicates the intention to equip two squadrons with these aircraft.

The combat variant of the aircraft comes equipped with the versatile Grifo-M-346 radar, developed by Leonardo and optimized for installation in the M-346FA’s nose.

The M-346FA light combat aircraft also features a Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS) for self-defense, an integrated communication system, and Tactical Data Link (TDL) capabilities.

The aircraft can be integrated with various types of armament and pods, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground ammunition (infrared, laser, or GPS-guided), as well as reconnaissance and targeting pods.

It is highly likely that the Nigerian authorities have opted for Israeli-produced equipment and armament.

The M-346FA will also serve as advanced training aircraft before pilots transition to supersonic Chengdu J-7 and JF-17 fighter jets. Until now, Nigeria has relied on older and heavily utilized aircraft such as the MB 339 (6 units), L-39 (8 units), and AlphaJet (12 units) for this purpose. Additionally, the M-346FA will provide valuable support to the Nigerian Air Force’s efforts in reducing the activities of Islamic extremist groups.

The acquisition of the Leonardo M-346FA light combat aircraft represents a significant step towards modernizing and enhancing Nigeria’s air capabilities, further strengthening its defense forces.



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